yurt life

An off grid Christmas in a yurt in New Zealand

7 December, 2016

I’m sitting on the sofa with a redbush tea and a bar of chocolate, feeling completely shattered, creaky boned weary.

Do you ever feel like life just bites you on the bum sometimes? When decisions that you know are right end up being tough ones?

We aren’t busy with the normal festive stuff, the bustling about with shopping and Christmas prep, but we are overwhelmed by the rush of summer and new farm animals and building infrastructure and other elements of off grid life.

In fact, I’d say this month has been one of the hardest since going off grid. The work has just felt absolutely relentless. Our new animals have been escaping, and we’ve put in a new bit of driveway so people can more easily visit (Tim borrowed a digger), as well as trying to put together the fanciest AirBNB yurt ever.

I had also set myself the challenge of Nanowrimo – a first draft of a novel in one month. In a way writing my 50,000 words late at night and in stolen corners of the day meant I had something to look forward to each day, but it also put on a lot of unnecessary pressure! When I look back on this last stressful month I’m like – why in the blazes did I keep doing nanowrimo?!?!?!?!?! The truth is, it felt important to me, to prioritise something that I get a lot out of. Does that make sense? Sometimes self-care looks like going to bed at 10pm and getting enough sleep and sometimes it means googling “how to write fiction” at 1am.

One of the factors has been how we accidentally ended up with a million more farm animals this month. It is all exactly the right thing for our farm, and it has all worked out in a totally serendipitous way. But it has been SO FULL ON. Watch our new video to meet these mysterious, slightly scary, creatures. Also Ramona’s first bash at beekeeping:

(This video was filmed on our first day with the animals, I am used to them now and we are on far better terms…eeep!)

It’s always funny approaching Christmas being a Brit in NZ.

Last Christmas we stayed on the farm and had our own little meal. We had no oven so we built a campfire and cooked a roast chicken in a cauldron. It was nice. And smokey. Ha.

This year we are having all of Tim’s family over for Christmas. And we are also ovenless- that’s because our yurt oven is woodfired which we shut down over summer; if we were to stoke it up our yurt would become a sauna. So we will build a spit for a lamb. We will camp and swim and have barbecues and salads. Salads for Christmas lunch! I’m serious. Bringing you the hard truth, right here, my friends.

Home away from home 😆

A photo posted by Lulastic & the Hippyshake (@lulasticblog) on

It is beautiful, having time together under the sun, swimming in the river and going on long evening walks. But, do you know what? Christmas is when I miss London the absolute most. I never feel properly festive here. I decorate the yurt like I think it’s the Christmas window display at Fortnum and Masons. (It would be really beautiful apart from that anything with a face – the nativity set, angels, Santa tree decorations etc- gets spirited away in carrier bags to different parts of the farm as playthings.)

I listen to ALL THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC. All day.

We do all the little advent rituals. (Some of them taken from Sacraparental’s epic list of advent ideas.)We are into our fourth year with our homemade pocket advent calendar, the girls are SO excited about seeing what is in every pocket. I have to do it each night otherwise they would have opened all 25 on the first day. I’ve only forgotten to put the thing in once… or twice. Ay ay ay, it is only the seventh of December!!! This morning they got little Santa candles in their advent pockets (stretching the concept of advent a bit, whatever) which they really enjoyed until Santa’s head melted completely away and Juno cried.

Despite all this I never really feel that buzz of December, that feeling that even though it is sludgy and dark and my nose and toes are constantly cold, there is this magical day coming up, this glimmer of shining hope to look forward to.Pocket Advent Calendar

It’s also when I miss my family the most. Christmas with my family is always so, so, so random. All the family and then several friends of friends, or neighbour’s cousins, or complete strangers. One year we met someone at the Christmas Ever service and she was going to be in London on her own the next day, so instead she came to us for Christmas. She went on to become a really cool friend. Hehe.

I try really hard to not get sentimental about being in NZ when all of my family is in London, but I really wish I could be with my folks and my sister and my nephews and niece at a cute little German market wearing wooly hats and eating churros that cost ten pounds.Off grid christmas in the summer

Luckily the swimming and the camping and the roadtrips balance out the homesickness a tiny bit.

What are you up to this Christmas? Are you feeling okay? Have you seen Mel’s 5 permissions, to help you look after yourself a bit? Have you seen my alternative, non-toy gift ideas for kids?

Hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, life isn’t biting you on the bum… x x

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  • Lauren 7 December, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Lucy christmas here is the only time I’ve ever heard David say ‘Let’s go back’, so hard to get the christmassy feeling even when surrounded by such awesomeness. Sent a pic to the Grandparents, who are currently snowed in, of Pippa decorating the tree wearing her togs and gumboots while it was still light close to 9pm! While I wouldn’t trade NZ Feb for UK Feb anytime soon I’d happily pop back and get wrapped up warm, head to the pub and enjoy a pint with a few friends for christmas. Maybe next year?

    • Lucy 7 December, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Yeah, we sometimes think about heading back for Christmas but the days are so short you wouldn’t feel like you were making the most of it!

  • Kate 7 December, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks for the honest post! This time of year feels very isolating for me in U.K. when kids are sick and we are stuck inside driving each other mad. I would like to live in a warmer climate as I am a better happier person and better Mum when the sun is shining. It’s easy to look at moving overseas as a solution however I love my home town and have a big family here. It’s a tough one! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, positive and negative!

    • Lucy 7 December, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      Yes actually there is that – happier family times in the sun. Tim and I are both definitely nicer to be around when it is sunny!

      • Kate 7 December, 2016 at 11:43 pm

        And now that my sisters have their own families most of them are doing their own thing a lot (so are we!). It’s possible things are different at home than you remember. It’s always nice to look back on happy family Christmas’s though, and get excited about making it just as great for our little ones, with our own new traditions.. that’s what I’m focusing on xx

  • Sarah 7 December, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    It’s tough being away from family. I lived in Australia for a couple of years so I understand what you are saying. I found the Christmas in summer thing a bit strange. I remember shops playing “I wish it would snow” even though I was in Queensland! Then when winter came I kept thinking it was nearly Christmas but it was actually July. I wonder if, over time, you will get used to it and make new traditions and associate Christmas with different things.

    • Lucy 7 December, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      Yes, I totally feel Christmassy in July! I think we must do something festive around then.

  • Kumari 7 December, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    I am so excited for you that you’re writing your novel. You have reminded me that one of the reasons that I moved my little family from London to these beautiful blue mountains was to write my book….So easy to just bob along the waves of growing my boy…but you’ve re-inspired me to answer the call of creativity too. We too miss London at Christmas. So I send love and hugs. Your Airbnb looks amazing! We may come over from Oz for a wee stay soon….as long as you keep those hairy coos away from me

    • Lucy 7 December, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Hahaha! Well, we would love to see you! I can really recommend nanowrimo actually, it was SO GOOD to just break into it without overthinking or feeling like I needed to actually write a novel. It was just a lot of playful words really, so good to do.

  • Adrienne Thompson 8 December, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I’m a New Zealander but lived 40 years in the Northern hemisphere so share your sense of incongruence in a summery Christmas and the homesickness for people and traditions that make Christmas what it is. Next year when you’re feeling Christmassy in winter perhaps you’ll do what I’ve been doing the last few years – re-light my Advent candles and bring out all my Christmas stars (not the angels and tinsel, just the stars), bake gingerbread stars, light fires, eat roast lamb, and tell stories – all to observe Matariki. The manaakitanga of Māori has shared a wonderful winter celebration with Aotearoa. But meanwhile – I hope the traditions you and your children are making will build into a wonderful reality of your own sense of Christmas as the years go on. Ngā mihi!

  • Sydney 8 December, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the video about life on the farm…watched it with my son and got big ooohs and ahhhs. From me. Ha. Love the homestead life.

    I am from the US and live in the tropics now. Never seems quite the same to see everyone decorate their homes with fake trees when it is boiling hot outside.
    The subscription discount code for green parent doesn’t seem to be working, I’d lulast the correct one?

    • Lucy 8 December, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      it might have to be in capitals? xx

  • Becky 13 December, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    My parents both died years ago yet i get this absolute yearning at Chirtsmas for them to be there. Its a funny old time isnt it packed with memories and wishes to recapture our childhood. Hurts my heart a little too . Have a beautiful one my friend