If you have ever thought seriously, or for that matter just fantasized, about getting away from it all, going off grid, hunkering down in the deepest countryside with nothing and no one for company other than a few goats and an amazing view, and living a lifestyle that doesn’t rely on 21st century concrete and carbon-fuelled energy, then this book is a must for you.
If this isn’t your bag and you don’t really fancy the thought of a composting loo (two actually, one for summer and one for winter) even with a glorious view, it’s still a really enjoyable, remarkable, book to read, written by a truly courageous woman with incredible determination and an imagination to boot.
We are talking about Aytula K Bingham’s most recent book, Mud Ball. This, her second publication, is an autobiographical offering, full of witty and frequently self deprecating vignettes and no little drama, as she recounts her adventures from a few years back on a hillside in Antalya hillside when she originally built the earth bag house she has been living in since 2013.
A lighter footprint
Aytula’s idea was not a new one. In the old days, traditional houses in many parts of the world were built from local mud, and in some parts still are. But for several decades it has become an alternative building technique of choice for people who want to leave a minimal footprint on our vulnerable and precious environment.
Far away from Portland!
Aytula built her little house in Turkey; a country where massive constructions of Portland cement have become all the rage and the age-old skills of making sustainable homes from local soil is sadly all but lost.
On her search for lime, a natural and ecologically sound product of which Turkey has prodigious amounts (just look at the limestone mountains), in order to make limecrete, a product used for millennia, Aytula started to face some pretty negative comments and she hadn’t even started building at that point:
Oh no no no… Lime won’t work in foundations. You can’t build without concrete, dear.’
A house without concrete? What, like in the olden days? No. You can’t do that. They get rats and damp and all sorts.’
No, a house without concrete wouldn’t be safe in an earthquake.’
Determination, a vision and a team of loyal friends
Fortunately for us, although she faced much scepticism, she didn’t give up and the negative comments just made her more determined. The bad weather an Anatolian winter could throw at her didn’t help either, but Aytula and her band of supportive friends persevered. As a result we can follow her amazing, and occasionally frustrating journey, which takes her from a tent to a remarkable and very unusual home perched on the side of a mountain in Antalya.
If you would like to learn more about this incredible journey and where to buy Mud Ball, click here. It is available both as a book and a download.
Okay, we know it’s a bit back to front but we will be posting a review of Aytula’s first book next week.