Thursday, 13 November 2014
sika lodge: dorset - part one
Firstly, I cannot believe it's taken me almost three months to write up our little holiday, but somehow, it has. It's been quite nice to sit and edit all the photos now the colder weather is here; little memories of sun soaked days and log-fire filled evenings are keeping me going through the rainy weather quite nicely!
Being into all things eco, when I saw Sika Lodge featured in Country Living a couple of years ago, I decided immediately that it was somewhere we absolutely had to visit; it was fully booked for that summer, so we waited until January of this year, and got in ahead of the crowds. One of the best things about this place is that owners Robbie and Rachel charge a flat fee all year round - so no ludicrous price increases during half terms and summer holidays (yes, Centre Parcs, I'm giving you the side eye right now...), which is pretty important to us as Ben is obviously at primary school now.
I'd seen a few pictures of the cabin on the website, but it still exceeded all my expectations; Robbie is an incredibly talented carpenter, and not only did he craft all of the furniture by hand, he also built the actual lodge itself. Inside, it was like ethical-rural-rustic heaven; a sea of upcycled and recycled wood, beautifully simplistic kitchenware (we loved the whistling kettle and enamelware) and the cosiest little living area complete with log burner. If there's one thing that's missing in my life, it's an open fire - so even though it wasn't all that cold in the evenings, we were determined to make the most of it!
Being an eco-lodge, there were a few interesting features that it took us a while to get used to; the toilet, for example, was basically a posh hole in the ground with a seat on top. Now, on the website, it does say that there's an eco-toilet, but I just assumed it was something with a fancy flush and then forgot about it - so when Robbie gave us the 'wee-in-the-front-poop-in-the-back' instructions, I must have looked pretty surprised. Basically, composting toilets are great for the environment, and work by separating your ones and twos - there is more information here for anyone who is interested - and they require absolutely no flush whatsoever. Genius! It sounds horrendous, and I bet you're all going, 'uurrrghhhhhh, that's SO DISGUSTING. I bet it STINKS' - but it doesn't smell at all, and after the first evening you just sort of get used to it.
The second thing that we struggled with in the beginning was the hot water situation; the cabin is solar powered, which means that if there is no sun, then there's no hot water - simple as that. We were fine for the first day, but then it clouded up and we were just getting no hot water at all - the only other option was to light a fire to heat the water in the tank instead, so this meant setting an alarm to get up and get the fire burning nice and early. The first morning was a learning curve with a little tantrum thrown in (err, that could possibly have been me...), and then after that it was just a case of being organised. I think this would have been way less hassle if we hadn't had a toddler and a five-year old in tow, running around and generally doing those kid-things that kids do!
The lodge itself was equipped with everything we could possibly have needed (there were even freezer blocks in the freezer for picnics!); the emphasis is really on the environment and getting back to basics, so while there was a radio and CD player, there was no TV, no 3G signal and no internet. There were, however, plenty of board games, a good selection of books and a hot tub, so the chances of getting bored were slim to none. It was really nice to not be 'connected' all the time - working for myself means that I'm kind of always 'on', to the point where the last thing I do at night is check my emails on my iPhone (sad, but true!) - and I found that I relaxed way more than I do when I'm flicking through Twitter and Facebook, or checking up on Instagram. I think with technology and social media, it's incredibly easy to forget to switch off and enjoy the simple pleasures; making food together (OK, I actually hate cooking and am terrible at it, but you know what I mean) reading books, crafting.... I swore when we left that I'd spend more time away from the internet, but I pretty much fell at the first hurdle when I started writing emails on the way home! I do love the whole slow-living ethos though, and my stay at Sika Lodge has definitely inspired me to spend more time looking into how we can make our home and lives more simple and environmentally friendly.
For more information, head to the Alpha Farm website here; Robbie and Rachel are both incredibly friendly and accommodating, and were happy to answer any questions we had.
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