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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Monday, 5 September 2016

One Year - Where Did That Go?!

One year ago today me, Jon and the boys landed with all our worldy goods in a Welsh wonderland and I really can't believe just what, in these past 12 months, has come about so I just wanted to write a post that I could look back on. I think it is always fun to see how the past compares with the present and gives you ideas for future; this will tie together everything we have accomplished and is a post for prosperity but would love it if you found the time to read it, too.

Our journey was a troubled one for a while, and I don't mean the Beverly Hillbillies-style packed trailer that came along with us! 

We put the boys in school just three days after arriving and, following the initial week, they thrived from being at the Canolfan in Felinfach before returning to main school at Christmas and they have continued to thrive to this very day.

Jon, with the blessing of our lovely vendors, began some outside work re-pointing the house's gable end because last September was such a great month weather wise. (He is never happier than when sitting as he dangles his legs off a scraffolding platform, trowel in hand!) We also worked to clear dead ivy from the front of the house and Jon refurbished the house name sign. Little things. Work on the house was quite extensive as three ceilings downstairs needed to come down and be re-plastered and re-painted plus the bathroom floor had to come up so that was a major job along with re-configuring the layout and building storage. We re-jigged a walk-in wardrobe for Alfie's room by creating a new wall and blocking up the existing landing cupboard.Other cosmetic work was done, too, in order to make the whole house just as we wanted.

It was at the beginning of October when our buyers pulled out but we carried on with work on the house - some people would rightly think this was a bit of a risk to say the least! I managed to get mysel a little job at a cafe in Tregaron that same month; I did it because it was required but I am much happier doing my thing at home!We gave ourselves a year to have the house finished but, as you can see, the vast majority of it was done by the time we moved out of the caravan in mid-October then spending the first night in the house! Jon got himself a job at the local saw mill in November and I gave up mine. Through thick and thin, family assistance and preparing for Christmas Bronllan was officially and finally ours on December 21 2015 and we had the most wonderful festive season, just the four of us.

Our dream started to become a reality. 

I began some Welsh lessons at the beginning of January and hope to have some more soon to improve on the small amount I have managed to pick up, much through the boys. 

I have taken part in village life by going along to the monthly lunches and coffee morning/book swaps which are so conveniently held literally across the road from the house at our lovely, historic community centre. 

Jon has enjoyed getting to know people including the wonderful man who owns the house backing on to our garden; he knows everyone and everything about the village and owned Bronllan at one time. He has been kind enough to let us store our monster of a trailer in his barn and Jon has helped with his sheep and other jobs on his land whilst really enjoying his company and the boys really like him, too.

The boys have taken part in lots of things through school like the Urdd Club - having a fabulous time on their residential weekend -  the local Eisteddfod and a wonderful afternoon of entertainment to celebrate St David's Day.

The boys and I began tentatively sowing seeds to grow our own at the beginning of April to start off in the conservatory.

I began making our own bread at the beginning of April, too, and have continued to do so since that time.

Toward the end of April Jon had finished building the greenhouse and I began our Grow Your Own quest in earnest. This has been a massive learning curve for me; the only edible things I had previously grown were a few beans and some salad leaves! I have learnt that sometimes things just grow and don't need a lot of care and other things need to be nurtured a little more. I know I need to extend my patience when it comes to waiting for things to come to harvest but I have also learned that things don't always work out and it is sometimes better to cut your losses.

 We have since harvested a wonderful amount of cucumbers, just over 3lbs of spuds              (would have been more if it were not for my eagerness!), a good amount of courgettes,          some tomatoes, sugar snap peas along with lettuce leaves and a couple of lbs of 
 cooking apples.

I have had so much help and advice about growing from the lovely people in Blogland - you know who you are! x

It all really started happening at the beginning of May!  

We got chickens! Our six girls continue to provide us with a fabulous amount of a very useful foodstuff; you will never starve if you have eggs! Since we brought them home they have given us, to date, 559 eggs and you can look at this as having paid off just over half of the initial £80 set up cost of the chicken project.

We set up a strawberry patch along the back of the Poly House but this has not been a great success so we chalk this one up to experience and hope for better results next year by possibly growing them under cover.

Jon and I completed the first part of our 19 x 6 foot veg patch. I planted out turnips, swede, carrots, broccoli and onions. The second phase was finished at the beginning of August - things sometime just take a while -  when I planted leeks, carrots and beetroot. I have had some issues with a couple of these plantings and I have lost the broccoli to the caterpillers but the patch looks quite healthy otherwise and some harvesting should take place very soon and I am very eager to share the details with you.

We built a raised bed for sweetcorn out of the last four sleepers we found in the garden. These have been the basis for the veg patch, raised bed inside the Poly House, as it is now known, the strawberry patch and said bed for the corn. This has saved us a HUGE amount of money as well as looking really attractive.

At the end of the month the garden was scraped down with a digger. We decided to take out three large rhododendrons along with the dreaded bamboo which has almost become a distant memory, although the cheeky little divil still pops up here and there but nothing like it did before! The garden is a shadow of its former self in the best possible manner and is a very useable space.

In the kitchen I have learned how to water-bath process chutney and have managed to pickle both eggs and cucumbers from our own garden. 

Our newest project is our room to let - We now have it on Airbnb and we wait to see what happens.

So at this point Jon and I are so pleased and frankly amazed at how much we have just managed to get done really! There is so much ahead for us and the boys but I think we have made a proper good start!

Thank you, again, to all those who have given help, advice, encouragement, empathy and sympathy along the way. I so appreciate how you lovely people have added to our dream becoming a reality. - see what I did there?!



  1. You have achieved so much I am so pleased that your dream has come true xxx

  2. Lots of changes in a small space of time and all for the good :-)

  3. I see what you did there 😜 what a lovely post to look back on and sum up how you feel and what you have achieved. What a lovely, warm and cosy feeling. Well done to you and your family for embracing every minute of it xx

    1. Thank you Tracy. It is a big thing to embrace and I want to get everything right straight away, but you can't, and then I get mild panic attacks because I'm buying food I think I should be growing! Huge learning curve but loving every minute of it. Thanks again.xx

  4. Yes Lou, you have achieved a lot in the time. Well done loveyxxxx

  5. It's lovely to see your hopes, plans and dreams coming together, your hard work is paying off.

    1. Thanks Marlene. What is really important is I've learnt so much this past five months, that's all it is really, since beginning my attempt at growing our own, so things can only get better!

  6. got to keep dreaming and hoping. You have done amazing!
    I hope to be living like you one day. Inspirational reading for sure!

    p.s. my strawberry plants never do well the first year

    1. Thanks for that Sol but there are so many other people who have inspired me which I am so grateful for. I have to cut back all the strawberry plants; may do that today if the weather holds, but it is a bit blustery today with the threat of rain at the moment.


Thank you so much for finding the time to comment. I really appreciate it and will always try to reply.xx