Lockdown project

rebuilding and renovating the camp at Cafe Tissardmine during the time of COVID

Once I realised we were going to be closed for some time due to the pandemic, and having no-one around to entertain or be entertained by, I decided to do some renovation. It served many purposes; it kept me busy, was a great distraction from the memoir I was supposed to write but most importantly, as I was to discover, the termite ravaged wood all needed to be replaced before it all fell down! The project was replacing the tented accommodation. The camp was very charming but not very weather proof – comfortable enough for short stays but I needed it to be more practical.

I started investigating many building options; round houses with reciprocal rooves and walls made of strawbale was my first choice and I set to with my research and drawing up plans – I kept the bathrooms and basic footprint of the camp

research and planning


once we took off all the cloth and removed the sand from the rooves, the frames pretty much fell over by themselves. The wood was totally eaten away by termites. The next problem was how to stop the next lot of wood being eaten. Then I discovered Borax and Linseed oil – we will see…


As much as I tried to convince the team to build round houses, they wouldn’t budge so I decided to save that technique for another day and went back to the drawing board to make something more in their comfort zone. Cabins with sloping rooves and guttering meant It certainly wasn’t exactly traditional to the area but it was manageable and weather proof. The walls were bamboo covered in adobe render inside and out, kind of a bamboo sandwich.

the new wall

I really wanted to try and build something from straw bale so designed a wall that would make a cosy seating area and protect the ‘camp’ from the strong southerly winds. We cobbled together the foundations using old brick and sand filled bottles, stone and wood off-cuts. The straw was rendered with tinted talakt. and finally decorated in stone.

nearly finished

Most of the build is complete, but there is a lot to finish inside the rooms, so maybe by the end of May we can celebrate…and then hope we can invite people to stay…

2023…new rooms are completed and we are open for business!