Guess what arrived in the post this week?

Hello and welcome to the latest blog of the Olivia Rose Diaries on November 18th 2021.

Autumn leaves.

We’ve been back in Le Shack almost two weeks now and I wondered how I would feel about being here after our house-sitting adventure, where we were living in a conventional house with luxuries like central heating and hot water on tap, not to mention a washing machine. 

Thankfully no adjustment was needed. Le Shack still feels like home and the mindset changes automatically into off-grid mode – apart from the lack of a washing machine, which is felt more keenly once winter sets in. If only we had a mangle it would be much easier.  I find that in some ways I prefer being here in winter rather than the summer. With the woodburner on and the lights shining softly on the wood-clad walls this litle cabin is the cosiest of spaces. Everywhere I look around me I see simple but precious things: our colourful quilted curtains, handmade by Michael’s mother: Michael’s drawings: my favourite books and a few ornaments. The only thing that jars is my own attempt at art, random splashings of bright acrylic paints that a six year old might be proud of, but I most definitely am not. I think they’ll have to go in the bin and I must accept that painting is not my thing.  

We have had a surfeit of pictures of wonderful landscapes in the past few blogs and it is time for a change. We had something exciting arrive in the post this week – well… exciting to us – and it gives me the chance to re-visit one of my favourite subjects,  one that is always of interest to my fellow boaters. Composting toilets!!!

As regular readers will know we have a composting toilet in an outhouse here in the cabin. In case you’ve forgotten I’ve included a picture below to remind you of our room with a view. 

Our composting toilet

Our new purchase will be used on our boat, Olivia Rose, rather than here. As you can see it is a far more glamorous affair, although I wonder slightly at myself for using the word glamorous to describe a toilet. 

With the lid down…
….and with lid up.

We had an electric macerating toilet on Olivia, with conventional plumbing and a holding tank, until the end of this season when the whole thing got clogged up and died on us. I will spare you any more details than that but we decided we didn’t want to replace it like with like, only to have a re-run of a similar problem a few years down the line due to unavoidable design flaws in the system. 

This shiny white box is called a ‘Simploo’, quite a catchy name, and seems well-made and well thought-out. I will report back on how well it works next year. For those of you who might like more specific details about how it works try their website

We have one more week here and then we are on the move again. We’ve been bitten by the house-sitting bug and have two more booked in which will take us up to the New Year. Our first home is situated on the foothills of the ‘Montagne Noire’, east of Toulouse,and will be very different to our last urban house-sit. The farmhouse is located in an isolated position deep in the countryside, a much more familiar setting for us, but we did enjoy the novelty value of being able to walk into town for a coffee in Marseillan. We certainly won’t be doing that here, however there is ample compensation in that we will be looking after a dog, chickens, miniature sheep and, joy of joys, a goat. 

We had a smallholding of our own in Wales for eight years with sheep, pigs, chickens, a horse and a donkey but sadly we never had the space for goats. I am also looking forward to having a dog for company again. It has been six months since we lost our own dog, Maddie, and walks just don’t feel the same without a canine friend at your heels.

Hoping all is well with everyone and that you are enjoying the splendid autumn colours. See you soon.


Autumn leaves.

10 thoughts on “Guess what arrived in the post this week?

  1. If you desire to make paintings, suspend judgment, and just do it. Even for experienced artists true masterpieces are rare. Tack your works on the walls, live with them, then continue to work on them. Tuck the less appealing ones away, and look at them again in a month or so. Look at a lot of paintings, read and educate yourself, and work with your materials. Your paintings will improve.
    All work can be repurposed…I still cut up years-old paintings to turn into cards as gifts. Old paintings also make great collages.
    Living on the move in a small space, however, could be hard. Art materials and works take space.


  2. As ever I am impressed with your photographs, especially the autumnal leaves, although the leaves and loos do not mix too well!


  3. I didn’t recall that you lost Maddie, so sorry to read of her passing. Our pets don’t live long enough, it breaks the heart when they leave us.
    Congrats on the new loo, quite sleek-looking! And have fun with the next house-sitting. A brilliant low-cost way to travel and learn new regions.


  4. As toilets go, that one is pretty glamourous. I’m fascinated with the idea of off grid living, currently living in army quarters while my husband sees out his years serving, but the long term goal is a little house and a simple life. Although I suspect it might not be as simple as it seems?


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