Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Resurrecting the blog for the new year

The "yikes it's the end of the year and there are only two posts from the last one!" rather hasty lowdown:

I can feel a new years' resolution brewing...

End of year updates [in brief!]

There has been some window and  door weather-proofing, some epic brickwork repointing sessions, new food co-op bulk buying efficiency measures, bathroom damp-proofing, limewashing the hallway, making the stairs look pretty, reorganising the tool room/garage... and loads more than that. Pictures/details to follow in an end-of year photo album style epic... if I have time!

Less positively, we've had our work cut out trying to mend the heating system, prevent persistent damp, fix roof leaks [not the nice edible kind, although we've had lots of those too], and as usual, the Mould.

What's left of 2014...

In the coming days and weeks there will be some celebrating over Yuletide [contact us for more info], some weeding/planting work at the Oak Tree farm, and much needed building & maintenance work days in the new year. Get in touch if you're curiously helpful or helpfully curious.

Happy Yule! xx

Monday, 10 February 2014

Work Days on the Band Practice Space

Calling all musicians, DIYers, punks, fellow co-operatives, friends, anarchists, and people of practical bent! Put these dates in your diary:

All day Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th February

We're hosting two work days to finish the band practice space in 23 basement and get the 27 hallway ready for the healing room relaunch.

If you'd like to help, please get in touch! Food and drink will be provided, although you're welcome to bring your own too if you like - and help will be on hand if you want to learn how to do any of the following things:
  • replastering part of the ceiling
  • ongoing mould- and damp-prevention
  • devising a way of fixing sound proofing to the ceiling
  • hammering down or removing any nails sticking out of the wall so it is safe to go into the basement
  • paint stripping and wood finishing
There may also be a chance to help build and weave a new living willow fence, depending on how many people show up and what the weather's doing.

The First Ever Camel Bazaar!

[Before this there was a work weekend but i keep forgetting to get the pictures off Frankie, so I'll post more on that later. Thanks to Ric for these photos...]

Last weekend the house of Random Camel hosted our first ever Camel Bazaar! It started with the idea of holding a craft fair/yard sale to raise some money and support friends who want to sell the things they create. By the time it happened, it had turned into an event where friends, family, and camels also shared our skills, performed, and ran on bartering as well as exchanging money. The only 'rules' were that the goal was not for commercial profit but mutual aid [all of us needed either money or stuff we didn't have], and that everything had to be hand made, local & ethically produced by the stall holder, or else second hand.

It was a great day. For the first time our house was open to lots of people socially in the daytime, and we started to glimpse what shape it might begin to take in our community. Here are a few pictures...

Getting ready...
A friend who makes toys and bags out of recycled clothes, and behind, Jewelry made from fabric remnants by my mum

After a beautiful dance by Helen [which i sadly have no pictures of right now], the Bazaar is open! 
Camel stall, featuring Frankie's ring pull jewelry, cake, knitted scarves, various adornments, local music, and lavender bags for a local mental health charity. Our friend Amy is in the background with the commercially impossible and fantastic tetra pack lampshades she learned to make, giving demonstrations and selling other artwork of hers.
[one she made earlier from tetra pack and old vinyl sleeves...]
Herbal remedies and simple ethical home-made soaps

The blue fabric behind the camel stall operated as a posting place for people to trade or share projects and skills

Elly Tree, a great local folk band who have given us lots of support, playing in our living room to close the bazaar :)

A chair made by their lead singer. She also carves beautiful walking sticks and staffs
Mandy getting rid of bric-a-brac in, well, a garage sale

People from Orchard Barn, a local sustainable building project, running a workshop on how to make roof tiles from green wood

The Decibel Kid! Or, Ric from down the road who also happens to be a brilliant DJ and friend of vegans & anarchists. He was joined on the music by long-time Camel Collective member, Dan

Radical Routes banners & props we've stolen-I mean borrowed temporarily...

Our wall of info about Radical Routes co-ops

Handmade scarves and other goodies. [It's ok your drums were not for sale Adam, in case you're reading this].

Home made Jam, clothes & flute lessons for sale/trade/raffle

Sign-making and hand made wooden fish, of course

A knitting workshop for Wool Against Weapons - also check out the Ipswich Zine Emporium in the corner!

The first performance in our very soon-to-be band practice space in the basement of 23! Experimental noise/bleepy music/sound art from local musician Poisk.
I feel really lucky to know so many interesting people and be able to bring them together. Once again, thanks to everyone who took part. We will definitely be hosting more events like this soon!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Christmas and beyond

The end of 2013 and Christmas

The two newest Camels had milestone birthdays, Mark's 50th and Holly's 30th -- both of which were celebrated in raucous style in the run-up to Christmas.

Family members came to stay, so there was much readying of the house to make it homely and comfortable, including this rather handy handle. This is the first step towards making the house more accessible for those who can't use stairs.

A useful handle for an elderly relative, installed by Mark in the pre christmas spruce-up
Mould has made an unwelcome return in places. You can see the problems we have in the newer parts of the house here, where the gypsum plaster is making our damp problems worse. We reckon that re-pointing the brickwork on the outside of the house will help prevent this, which is on the agenda in spring, and some work to remove external render is set to be done in the next few weeks - see below for more details.

The downstairs loo, cleared of mould and much of the paint!

Work on the hallway has gathered momentum ahead of the re-opening of our healing room in March - more updates on that in due course. In the meantime check out our stripping skills:

The stairway half way through paint-stripping

The paint here was almost a centimetre thick in places...  also lead-based, so we needed to wear masks

This will look great when sanded and finished

Nearly there: The hall, stairwell and landing needs to be ready for the grand re-opening of our healing room, which will be at the end of March
The garage space has been transformed already into an actually functioning workshop space, with much help from Camel friends Ken and Jim [John's dad]. The main issue in here is the structural integrity of the garage as this outside wall is not sturdy enough to bear the load of all the wood on its own. For this reason, we put in vertical supports that run from the floor all the way up to the ceiling joists, and mounted the brackets onto those.

The new work bench, thanks to the work of Jim. Those lower horizontals are made from reclaimed stairs
Much of our building wood has now been stowed away, making for more work-space

The whole of the garage, a work in progress

Aside from those ongoing projects, plenty of other things have been occurring, such as maintaining this wood store, which we reinforced as it was in bad shape on the right hand side.

Our log pile, with cut wood ready for seasoning

A friend of the co-op has helped us cut the log-pile down to size
We also saw the arrival of a new and rather large item: a beautiful piano. [Ed: Squeeeeee! I haven't played properly in years!!] Once it's tuned, the house will be full of the music of... well, me [Sue] and whoever else wants to learn or improve with me!

Our nearly-new piano! Any tuners out there?

Helen's beautiful solstice banner and our tree.

Into 2014

Work Weekend: 11-12 January

We're having a work weekend next week should any Suffolk-based readers of this blog fancy lending a hand. Food and drinks will be provided. The plan is to tackle the immediate damp problems of the newer parts of the house before they get any worse. People will be around to offer advice and guidance to less confident DIY-ers who want to learn new skills. All welcome.

Investors' Day: 2 February

We're also getting ready for an investors' day to show everyone who backed us when we set up our co-op how we're getting on. If you have invested, you should have been sent details of this - if you haven't received anything from us please get in touch asap so we can update your contact details and tell you about it. We hope to see all of you here next month!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Underground activity

So once again I've neglected the blog! Lots has been going on despite the online inactivity. In the months running up to Christmas we were concentrating on our subterranean spaces, making them weather proof and drying them out as much as possible.

In 23 basement - which we are going to turn into a band practice space - we've finished making the window from glass bottles and lime mortar mix. First we collected up our empty wine bottles cut the bottles in half using an electric tile cutter and fixed the bottom halves together using... erm... duct tape. We aren't sure how waterproof or durable this will be yet but due to time constraints we went with it.

Light tubes ready to be lined with foil and duct taped together
Mark preparing one of the light tubes in the tool room

The next step was building up the layers of lime mortar and layering up the bottles in a line. There are two layers of bottles. 

First layer of light tubes

John mixing the lime mortar

Not sure who this is! Working the mortar from outside the house to get the front straight

In between the two layers of bottles we laid pipes to help with the ventilation and air flow of the house. This means that once we start using the band practice space all the hot air will be able to flow out, taking moisture with it. We kept them flush with the wall by butting them up against a plank of wood. It was all finished by the beginning of November.

In 27 basement we swept out all the damp soil and debris, and friend of the house Ken hooked up an old CPU fan [from a computer] to an old lamp and placed it in a duct to improve air circulation.

Ken, Sue, and John planning how to dry out the basement 

A cunning plan to draw out the damp air

We knocked out the middle separator so we could install the condensation-catcher
So that concludes the underground activity post which I began in November!

We also had a new member - plus dog - join us, meaning we are completely full. Holly - that's the human one - and Loki moved in at the beginning of November. 

More on all the other stuff that's been going on to follow...