Last year we built our clay oven, barbecue, and open fire facility in Middle Stolford (see earlier blog!). All of these were designed from the perspective of an individual from the chalk downlands of Berkshire and Wiltshire, so our first Exmoor winter highlighted the need for a number a number of changes.
Firstly, it required a closed in front, three sides being a bit of a shortcoming when the rain is coming in horizontally. Also, having built the clay oven ourselves from raw clay, it only took one Exmoor winter to turn it back into raw clay. No particular shape of clay, just a great big wodge really with a chimney poking out of it sideways. In addition, the smart tongue and groove ceiling swelled up in the constant damp, and buckled in a very disappointing fashion. So we bought a very nice factory made clay oven that will literally laugh at rain and mist, replaced the roof and ceiling with something more rustic and weather proof, and installed a wooden fascia with windows and doors so it all looks super smart and will keep out next winters gales and downpours.
While we were at it we also installed a large childrens play area, and a pergola which we made ourselves. We hope the new facilities will make for an even more comfortable and interesting stay at Middle Stolford. Next Winter we are planning to turn the double garage area into a games room so that will make a second covered area for folks to enjoy Autumn and Winter breaks.