We're sponsoring the Big Straw Bale Gathering 2018!

BSBG sponsor badgeI'm delighted to say Huff & Puff Construction are sponsoring the inaugural Big Straw Bale Gathering, to be held 10th-12th August at Down to Earth, Swansea.

This is the first event of its type, a gathering to discuss and learn straw bale construction and share the latest and best thinking within the industry.

Held at Down to Earth’s beautiful strawbale roundhouse in South Wales, the weekend will feature talks, discussions and hands-on workshops, for all levels, led by the UK’s best natural builders and leading associated professionals. So come down and get excited about building with straw, learn some new techniques or get stuck into the geeky technical stuff.

When you are full of knowledge you can relax with great local organic food, music, dancing, yoga, ‘Strawbale Ale’, children’s activities and a host of extracurricular events ranging from walks to canyoneering on the beautiful Gower peninsular!

Us Huff & Puff folk will be on hand throughout the weekend, so come and seek us out to say hello, and for advice and answers to your straw bale questions. :-)

Book your tickets here: http://strawbalebuildinguk.com/bsbg-tickets/


Stock Gaylard Oak Fair 2014 - see us there!

Stock Gaylard Logo
Stock Gaylard Logo

We are delighted to be exhibiting at the Stock Gaylard Oak Fair 2014 (close to Sturminster Newton in Dorset, UK) on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th August. Look for us in the demonstration area where we will be demonstrating how to build with straw bales.

This is a wonderful show, full of all sorts of countryside groups and crafts - there are loads of things to see and do for all the family. This year the show celebrates its 10th anniversary and so is being held over two days.

Please see the Oak Fair website for details - http://www.stockgaylard.com/oak-fair/oak-fair-at-stock-gaylard.html. We hope to see you there!

Cranborne Chase Woodfair 2013 - thank you!

Cranborne Chase Woodfair
Cranborne Chase Woodfair
Thank you to everyone who visited us at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair 2013! We had a lovely weekend and met lots of new people interested in straw bale building. I hope we managed to answer some of your questions and have got you in the mood for some sustainable building.

We had an end pitch, which was nice, so we made the stand a bit bigger, left the roof off, and made the most of the glorious weather we had all weekend. Below you can see a few photos of how things went.

This will probably be our last show for 2013, but if you know of any shows - this year or next - that you think would suit us, please let us know below (or some other way).

Cranborne Chase Woodfair 2013 - see us there!

Cranborne Chase Woodfair
Cranborne Chase Woodfair
We are delighted to be exhibiting at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair - www.woodfair.org.uk - this coming weekend, 5th & 6th October, at Breamore House near Fordingbridge.

We are stand No.44, visible from the main arena.

Come along and see us demonstrating how to build with straw bales, our almost legendary puppet show, and gather info and ask questions about sustainable building.

The show should be bigger and better than ever at its new venue. The show focuses on wood and country crafts, with plenty of things to interest all ages.

Dare I say it, the weather looks promising too! We hope to see you there!

Great Dorset Steam Fair 2013

Great Dorset Steam Fair logo
Great Dorset Steam Fair logo
Michelle and I spent a very enjoyable day yesterday at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. The fair runs from Wednesday to Sunday in late August each year and is, I think, the largest event of its sort in the world. You can see all sorts of old traction engines and old farm machinery, with an emphasis on seeing things in action. My favourite field is over on the east of the site, where you can see sections dedicated to horses and horse ploughing, threshing and wood sawing, along with various halls for crafts and food. With a fair wind we'd love to exhibit there next year.

We wore our Huff and Puff T-shirts and made some new friends. We saw the most splendid vintage baler - see photos below - which was putting out the most incredibly compact, square-ended bales that you could hardly lift. I do get quite excited now when I find good, construction quality bales, but that goes with the territory I guess!

I've been looking for work to do during the winter months when we can't build with straw or render and we keep coming back to the idea of shepherds' huts. Having done a bit of research I think there are probably in excess of six companies making huts in Dorset alone, and they do seem incredibly popular at the moment. Some are of awesome quality, but I'm not convinced about the eco-credentials of the ones I've seen. Along with quality I think that would be what we'd like to focus on. What do you think? What would you like to use a hut for?

Dorset County No Show

We had hoped to bag a last minute space to exhibit at the Dorset County Show on the weekend 6th/7th September, however the cost is quite simply ludicrous, in my opinion, for a small business.  I won't embarrass them by saying how much, and it makes you wonder who they want there really, but I digress.  Instead, Michelle and I will be there on one of the two days as visitors, wearing our new, organic cotton Huff and Puff T-shirts, attempting to identify and engage in conversation any people who look like they might be interested in straw bale building.  If I'm feeling super-audacious nearer the time I might even make some sandwich boards, if I can work out how to smuggle them in...

Stock Gaylard Oak Fair 2013 - thank you!

wolf-01Thank you so much to everyone who visited our stand at the show, it was wonderful to meet so many new people interested in straw bale building! If we met you there it's very nice to welcome you here! And we'll be in touch sometime soon if you kindly left your e-mail address. Please feel free to like us on Facebook too - the link is either on the right or at the foot of the page.

To set up for the fair, my wife Michelle and I spent part of Thursday afternoon and Friday on the site building a basic timber frame and flat roof measuring about 7.5m by 4m - from scratch, with timber bought from local yards. It was a massive effort, and I think it looked pretty good. We will now either reuse this building at shows or incorporate the timber into upcoming builds.

The idea was to show timber framing holding up either a full flat roof or a first floor, and to build a load bearing straw bale wall up underneath, ready for the frame to be removed and the roof lowered down. It's wonderful to see some people's faces when they realise straw bale can be the actual load-bearing wall. Hopefully at future events we can demonstrate a more complete straw bale wall - I completely underestimated how much I would be able to talk to everyone and build at the same time, so we didn't get a full height wall and corner in place (we'll do a lot more preparation of certain elements next time to allow for this).

We had information material displayed in the middle of the stand, and the crowning glory was our puppet show, which was the first element most people passing got to see. Michelle is a teacher and we were really keen to do some children's entertainment so we told the 'Huff and Puff' version of the three little pigs story, with accompanying little pigs and wolf hand puppets. It goes a little like this (although it grew more elaborate throughout the day!):

There was an old sow with three little pigs, and as she had not enough to keep them, she sent them out to seek their fortune. The first that went off met a man with a pallet of bricks, and said to him, "Please, man, give me those bricks to build me a house." Which the man did, and the little pig built a house with them.

Presently along came a wolf, who knocked at the door, and said, "Little pig, little pig, let me come in."

To which the pig answered, "No, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin."

The wolf then answered, "Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in." So he huffed, and he puffed, and the little pig's house got very draughty and very cold. The little pig thought, if he was cold now, how much colder his house would be in winter, so he ran out the back door to go and find his brothers.

The second little pig met a lady with a bundle of wood, and said, "Please, lady, give me that wood to build a house." Which the lady did.

The third little pig met a man with a load of straw bales, and said, "Please, man, give me those straw bales to build a house with." So the man gave him the straw bales.

The second and third little pig then met on the road, and soon after the first little pig ran up, all out of breath. “There is a wolf he said, we need to build a very strong and warm house!”

So the three little pigs made a house out of straw bales and wood.

Then along came the wolf, and said, "Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in."

"No, not by the hair on our chinny chin chins."

"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in."

Well, he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed and he puffed, and he puffed and huffed; but he could not blow the house in.

So the little pigs stayed inside their straw bale and wooden house, all safe, comfortable and warm, until the wolf gave up and went away to find some less well housed little pigs.

I'm pleased to say this seemed to go down very well with children and parents alike. We enjoy a bit of fun and like to think we're approachable - of course meeting potential new friends and customers is a big reason for doing shows, but we are passionate about straw bale and sustainable building itself, and what it can do for both people and the planet, so it really was tremendously enjoyable just to help spread the word, speak to like-minded people and have some fun in the process.

We had a lot of interesting conversations with people who are considering their own building projects, and providing we can secure enough work in the meantime, we would love to be back next year. A big thank you to organiser Andy Langmead, especially for the hand we needed lifting up part of our frame, to Toria for all of her help - and to all the Stock Gaylard crew, especially John, for being so cheery and welcoming!

Thank you also to all our friends and family who either helped or lent moral support on the day - especially our wonderful Kate, Sue 'Mahali Mazuri' Hulbert, and my Mum Eileen and sister Ann. It was also truly splendid to once again meet the hugely talented Fabienne Rumney, who specialises in lime work, and who along with Rob Buckley led the DCRS straw bale course I did back in February - Huff and Puff probably wouldn't be here without you both.

We would now dearly love to do the Dorset County Show in Dorchester on the weekend of 7th/8th September, but we are trying to tally that with all the work we have on for the first straw bale build here at Huff and Puff HQ so that may not be possible. We definitely have the fair/festival bug though - how great it must be for folks to go around and do this all summer!

Please view more photos below in the gallery.

Stock Gaylard Oak Fair - see us there!

Stock Gaylard Logo
Stock Gaylard Logo

I'm delighted to say that we are exhibiting at the Stock Gaylard Oak Fair (close to Sturminster Newton) on Saturday 24th August. This is a wonderful show, full of all sorts of countryside groups and crafts - there are loads of things to see and do for all the family. I think we're over in the 'Machinery & Timber Yard' area, but don't hold me to that. Please see their website for details - http://www.stockgaylard.com/oak-fair/oak-fair-at-stock-gaylard.html. We hope to see you there!