It seems we are enjoying the outdoor lifestyle more than ever nowadays, weather permitting. This summer, for example, there are a plethora of festivals taking place in the county at venues including Henley, Great Tew and Cornbury Park, as well as Truck at Steventon and most, if not all, will involve temporary structures of some kind.

Many will be marquees but increasingly there is a demand for camping accommodation and, for those without their own facilities who are willing to pay, it is possible to hire tents and even teepee-style structures to add an extra experience to the weekend.

Noticing such a trend formed part of the reason for Sarah Lay to invest in a yurt, a structure traditionally used by Turkish and Mongolian nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.

She had come across them after meeting a community of people at Watchfield who actually live in yurts, and they agreed to make her one for £5,000.

A yurt is no ordinary tent and usually consists of a circular wooden frame with a felt cover and so it is with Ms Lay’s version with the frame made of oak and poles from Douglas fir, although the felt is covered in a waterproof canvas to keep out the elements.

Ms Lay’s yurt, however, is not just for her own use, although she admits that she did live in it for a couple of weeks last year with 12-year-old daughter Lizzie, while she was in the process of moving house.

She got the idea of buying a yurt after renting one for her 40th birthday, and now she provides her own for a wide range of occasions, including corporate events, weddings and special celebrations.

It can hold up to 70 people and Ms Lay has also invested in appropriate furnishings and a wood burning stove, so guests can enjoy creature comforts while enjoying the yurt experience.

She said: “It is a circular space which makes it different and the light comes down from the central crown, and in the summer you can have the sides raised which shows off the wooden frame.”

The flexibility of the yurt means that not only can it be used for a family celebration, but also as a secondary area to a larger party, such as a wedding where it could be scattered with comfortable settees and cushions to provide a “chill-out zone.”

But there doesn’t have to be an Eastern theme when using the yurt, as it lends itself as accommodation for all occasions — as Ms Lay says, it is just “different.”

“You could use it to hold yoga classes or a team-building exercise. Most recently I had a group of ten girls using it for a party and then sleeping in it afterwards.

“I provided the furniture and the cooking utensils and cooking can be done on the log burner.”

Talking of team-building, the yurt, which is 24ft in diameter, takes two people about three hours to erect, but that is all done by Ms Lay and some willing helpers drawn from her family around Kingston Bagpuize.

At the moment, the yurt is a part-time business for Ms Lay as she is also an NHS nutritionist, but she is hoping there will be sufficient custom this summer to help her devote more time to it.

She is even hoping to combine it with her passion for food and offer catering services to parties.

Ms Lay added: “The great thing about it is that it is really fun.”

The yurt is available to hire at £750 for three days.

n Contact: Sarah Lay, 07786 268720.