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Aaaah I love our life!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Pros and Cons and Keeping Rural Living Real.

This morning I had to go and pay the mechanic who did the MOT on my car yesterday. I needed to drive 2 miles to the post office as that is the nearest place to get cash, then I drove 2 miles home to the turning from where I drove 3 miles to and from the mechanic. Some people may think this is a bit of a jaunt but that is what it takes.

In order for our boys to take part in various activities after school we need to make a 26 mile round trip to Aber but they cannot miss out just because of where they live. Sometimes we are able to take turns with journeys by sharing with other parents but not always so sometimes we have to hang around until the boys have done their thing.

Growing your own fruit and veg when you live in places like we do is something lots of people do for lots of reasons. (I have always wanted to produce and raise as much of our food as we can.)The reasons can be that you just want to know where your food comes from, you see it as a challenge or it can save you money. Now regarding the latter I have not saved us a fortune this year because I am still learning so much about GYO. However, the things I have not had to buy along with the things I have acquired, been gifted, foraged etc. mean that the money we have spent has allowed us to spend money on other things.

Most people feel that wishing to maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle, or as I prefer to call it self-reliant, as well as a different pace of life agree you need some sort of income to run alongside the other parts of that life you are trying to build. We are fortunate to have out buildings which came with the house and with the skills Jon has we are on our way to building a business. The money we have made from the first room has not been a fortune but when Jon needs to spend £40 here and there on building materials or I need to buy extra shopping when guests come it has been a real bonus. Because our nearest, proper supermarket is also a 26 mile round trip you add the cost of fuel onto the food you buy which is another good reason to grow your own. Other people chose to make an income from raising and selling meat, eggs, fruit and veg, any number of things which they are able to produce on whatever land or layout they are working with and what suits their lifestyle. 

I guess I began thinking about all of this as I drove down the hill back to the house, as part of the 10 mile journey, looking at the wonderful landscape we are so lucky to live within. I hope this isn't too much of a ramble but I suppose I was trying to find a way of saying that you have to keep things real. 

When visitors say we have the perfect set up here and you really are living the dream I am always quick to say we do not live our life wearing rose tinted glasses. It IS the perfect place for us to live and we wouldn't change it for anything but it takes work. If you have a lot of money from whatever source then you are more easily able to set things up; if you don't then there is a degree of planning for the future needed and also a certain amount of patience until you are able to get to and....




That's all I think.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Autumn and Other Stuff.


Good evening.

Autumn has definitely arrived and if anybody is a regular reader of my blog you will know I DO like to decorate.

I spotted these fantastic gourds in Lidl and just had to have a couple for this display.

In the living room I have the books I usually put out along with a fabulous card with foxes on from when I took part in a stationery swap.


In the front kitchen window I have put together a basket of Autumnal goodies and I am particularly pleased with this one. (Another fox card.)


Outside the Autumnal weather is properly taking its toll - on the Poly House! There are too many rips and too much damage now to show but this scene greeted me the other morning. These will not be kept on the top shelves anymore but instead be stored in the planters and containers once they have all been brushed and washed out.


The bed inside the Poly House has been cleared of the gherkins and cucumbers...



so is now ready either for new sowings or to be covered. 


Considering the state of the Poly House I think I will be covering it over until Spring!

Outside I have come to the conclusion that the far corner of the veg area is NOT the right place for sweet corn. It has failed miserably; I had plenty of cobs develop but there was just not the sun for them to ripen.


However I did manage to harvest one cob, which out of approx. 19 plants is very sad. I won't be growing it again next year as this was the best spot for a good amount of plants.


A couple of other things that are still growing outside include the Pak Choi, all be it in the rather now shabby looking cold frame; it looks as though it's growing as it should.


My courgette plant seems to still be the gift that keeps on giving!


One thing that was not wind damaged or unripe was this tasty chocolate chip cake I made when baking yesterday. Went down a treat, especially with my friend after we came back from a lovely walk this morning. Have to say I am enjoying the Great British Bake Off more than I thought I would so will be tuning in to that a little later this evening.


Jon has reached plastering stage in the new Airbnb room.




Jon is a great plasterer and has already finished the bathroom ceiling this evening.

As you can see there is not a lot going on at our little homestead just now.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Quantity or Quality Time?

Yesterday, as fairly normal, I listened to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2.

The article I was most interested in was about parents who regret they did not spend more time with their children when they were young.

People made comments about there not being things like Skype back in the day so a parent was gone until they came back and that was it.

One father, and it seemed mostly to be father's with the regret, who in later life became a foster parent said he was closer to his foster children than his natural children because of working away when they were young.

Jon and I were very lucky that when I had Harry he took two weeks off work - we had our own business - and I hardly changed a nappy which meant he had some quality time. When both the boys were young we still lived close to our business and although I stopped working with Jon when Harry was born he was always there in the evenings.

One mum said to Jeremy that she has been on maternity leave for the last 51 years! I feel so very lucky that apart from a short time when we first came to Wales I have always been at home for them. I am also lucky that I have always, and continue, been so happy to be what the Americans call a stay at home mum/homemaker. I am never happier than baking, cooking, making comfy the house into a home and just being here for the boys and Jon. I have to say Jon rarely asks me what I've done during the day, I just get on with my thing as he does with his. He also loves working only 10 minutes from home and having the weekends free, although he doesn't have the luxury of a lot of holidays.

I understand that it is a very tricky thing for people to balance having to work to pay the bills and also finding that time to spend with family. I could say certain things here but I would never offend anybody regarding their choice of lifestyle, their aspirations etc. I do think we are quite simple when it comes down to the things we need or want and generally we get there in the end, though we may have to wait and little longer at times. 

If you have the time to use the BBC Iplayer and listen to the article you may find it interesting - just a mascara warning that they played Cat's In The Cradle by Harry Chapin and Slipping Through My Fingers by Abba during the article! Boo hoo!

Bye for now.

Lou.xx

Friday, 29 September 2017

Preserving and Project Progress.

Hi!

Airbnb phase two is coming along really well. Inside we have got the frame for the front of the chalet in place.



The window and door were put in along with membrane covering.


The doors were then taken off and they will be used on another project.


This door was originally the connecting door between Jon's tool shed and the main shed.



Alfie was a really good lad learning some new skills by helping Jon with the cladding and putting on the new windowsill. 





















And here we are.





We are very pleased with how it looks on the outside - obviously it needs painting but when guests come it looks tidy from the front.


Jon will continue working on the inside at those times when we don't have any guests.


In other news my order of onions and garlic have come today.



It was my offer from GYO magazine.

And I am pleased to still be harvesting some things...



which include my only four chillis, one last Spring onion I think, lettuces (not Winter ones), the contents of the first growing bag of sweet potatoes, which I am so very pleased with, and still some tomatoes are coming.

Today I have made a jar of gherkin relish as they keep popping up, too. I'm really looking forward to my preserving this year. I look forward to us using it on burgers next summer and it looks JUST how I wanted it to!



Right, I have a cake in the oven just now for when we go visit my mum tomorrow. 

I look forward to seeing what everybody gets up to over the weekend.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx




  


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Foody Photos Inside and Out.

Hi!

I've tried a couple of new recipes recently as you really can get a bit bored with the same old same old sometimes.

I sat down and had a good root through my Save With Jamie book, which I love, and I've been a little inspired due to watching Celebrity Masterchef just now, too. 

I made Koftas but with turkey mince instead of lamb and also rustled up some flat breads to go with them. They went down a treat so will definitely be making them again. (Unfortunately no photo.)

I had some puff pastry in the freezer so made this with a filling of chicken, peas in my homemade mint sauce, tarragon and all put through a bechamel sauce. Mmmmm.



Then I decided on pork belly-filled ravioli which was ok in the end but I have misplaced the bracket that holds my pasta machine to the island! I had to roll by hand but it came out alright.

I've taken delivery of a kitchen gadget which I've used for tea last night - a meatball maker and I love it! Jon cooked the meatballs whilst I was watching Strictly and he said they cooked really well; the texture seemed to have been improved by the pressure of the gadget making the balls into a really good shape.







Now, I've finally got round to processing, almost, all of my garlic which I took up when we came back from our holidays. It has taken ages for it to dry out as the soil was so very wet but it looks great and I am so very pleased with it. I have it in the basket I bought in Menorca hanging in the kitchen as most things I read say it should not be kept in the dark incase it sprouts so that is why I didn't put it in the cellar store room.




I have on order a small amount of garlic but need to get some more.

Yesterday I had a bit of a tidy up in the Poly House. It looks a bit better...


but there are a few jobs to do yet.


I also need to clean out the planters etc before I store them away for the winter.


My next door neighbour works at our local plant nursery and he brought me these two thyme plants. They are now in the herb sink and I was very grateful for them as mine had not grown well this year.


In the Poly House these are the broccoli raab and Spring cabbage; I intend to get them outside quite soon before they get too leggy and spoil.



Also yesterday I took up the last of my Maris Piper spuds, as I was worried the blight may get to them, and left them to dry until today.



I brought them inside this afternoon along with something else!


I have some in the kitchen to eat at tea tonight and the rest I have stored in the cellar. Don't want the precious few to spoil. I am very pleased, though, that I have these, the Christmas spuds and also the sweet ones.

Oh this really is turning into a ramble, sorry. I just remembered the mum of a friend of Alfie's, who spent the day with us yesterday, gave me a huge courgette she grew on her allotment. I am chuffed to bits as I wanted to make some of the courgette and apple chutney as I did last year but only had the apples. I've put some of the many cooking apples I was given in the cellar, ones that are not bruised, on a flat box as most of them have been put to the compost heap or the chickens. That is a job for next week I'm looking really forward to.

Right I think I should stop now or there will be no end to this!

Bye for now.

Lou.



Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Storm Damage - Aaarggh!

Good afternoon.

I have finally got round the taking some photos of the Poly House after the recent bad weather.

The rain, lashing down as it did,has caused quite a lot of damage. This is damage which will not be mended very soon as the contents of the PH are diminishing with the end of the season but also because Jon is very busy with all his spare time getting the second Airbnb room finished - oh I think I have a few photos of the first stages.

The very start and needing to keep the door open until the electrics are in to shed some light on the proceedings.


 

Jon has been collecting/acquiring windows for various projects we have planned so he made a lovely wooden frame for this one. As it so high up it doesn't need to be frosted.


Sink and toilet are in possible position before pipework is done then they'll be set in place.

 

The shower tray has been put in place and the stud walls are up.



More photos of the next stages soon.

Now these are photos of the main damage from the far end of the PH looking from the door... these were taken earlier today and you can see for a change we have beautiful weather here!



left hand side from the door....


and again the left side. Obviously that was the direction of most of the wind.


The cold frame has suffered a bit, too.


My seedlings in the Poly House are close to wanting to be panted out soon so i guess they will survive until then. 

But in other news, I went to my Slimming World group last night in the hope that I had lost just .5lb to get to my target weight and ......



Yay!!!! I did it. I have lost 2 stone 10.5 lbs 
since I began the first week of February.

I am chuffed beyond words. Now I must maintain by not getting complacent and still making good choices. I do know for sure that a lot of the things I have eaten to lose weight I will continue to eat because I like them and I know the choices I have made and continue to make are good for me.

It is my birthday soon so I am looking forward to maybe having a special meal or when we have friends coming to stay in a couple of weeks. I lived across the hall from Alex in London for a couple of years, she was a witness at our wedding 12 years ago, the next time we saw her was at Alfie's first birthday 9 years ago and the most recent time was last October so we are very excited about welcoming her, and her fella!

Right that is my ramblings for today.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx