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August 2017

Overheard in our house...

Child - what are you doing?
me - hoovering the woodpile
Child  - you have got to hoover logs?
me - apparently so


Me - where is Daisy?
Him - she's in the new goat house, watching Charlie and the chocolate factory movie on her phone...

{of course she is. why did I ask...} 

Capability brown/tarzan

There are three vines on the outside of our home. Two non invasive and one out of hand and trying to grow thro the roof tiles... apparently thats also mostly likely the way mice get in the roof space. Oh lovely. So today, even tho I don't do heights, I was balanced on a step ladder as far as I could reach, cutting down vines to a decent compromise of  'Thats pretty on the house' but not 'Oh you've trashed the roof'  Forty six miles of wisteria later - never in my life did I think 'too much' wisteria would be a bad thing, but you live and learn - and its cut back to the top of the ground floor windows, trailing nicely along, and not covering the roof corner and hanging in all directions. By the way; should you ever need a vine strong enough to hold a middle-aged woman off the floor, then fifteen year old wisteria is your best bet. I was swinging on the damn thing and it would not budge.
Anyhow, the already full skip is now even more full of vine, both wisteria and the Virginia creeper. Every time I cut down large plants or branches I am surprised how strenuous it is. After this and the tree lopping yesterday I feel like I've been in a wrestling match and lost. 
I've so much landscaping - general hacking back of overgrown stuff, lets call it landscaping shall we - to do I am somewhat overwhelmed.  I know I don't have to do it all at once, the husband reminds me of this every day, but I WANT to do it all at once,  - ego verses practicality right? ;)

Before anyone really garden-y tells me so, I do know its a bit early to prune a wisteria. Its also not a good time to lose part of my roof however, so you know...

I keep looking at the slightly sloping back garden lawn. At some point I will have flower beds and some type of design out there.  Unlike the woodland and field landscaping however, this is not calling to me right now. It looks like work, not fun. And dull as it is right now, an L-shaped lawn with happy chickens pottering about on it, it is easy to just cut and keep at the moment. Theres also an evergreen hideous thick evergreen hedge in it that I don't want, but looks ridiculously hard or expensive to remove.... plus the husband thinks its 'not that bad' so it will have to 'disappear' one day when he is not here... ;) 

Super grateful the goats arrived here today, I love those little delinquents very much. Giving them a day to settle in and then I expect them to eat the landscaping issues right back for me. What eats nettles? ( my pet goats don't) Whatever eats nettles needs to come and live with me.




Farmer Charlie and Farmer John


One of the first locals we met, and chatted too, was a true ‘old boy’ and he arrived at about 7.30am one morning to collect hay bales from our fields. He had previously rented the fields for hay from the last owner.  Driving his red tractor he pulled up as soon as he saw me, and got down to say hello.  I’m not going to guess his actual age, but genuinely looking anything between 70 and 110, wearing a fishing hat, thick jumper and actually chewing with a piece of hay sticking out of his mouth. All day. If you were going to draw a five year old child a picture of farmer - this was your guy.  To me he was very sweet and polite, exceptionally broad accent hampering our conversation a little but we got there in the end.

Back and forth he drove for the day, taking two bales at a time, two miles down the road to his house. A pink house he said, with a farm of cattle and sheep.  

It was the first time it dawned on me the pace of here is just that - things will get done, they will take time but get done.  His name was Charlie and eventually over the course of the day the entire family met him, and has their own little story of what he said - not always got very politically correct views has Farmer Charlie. 

I have to say, if you needed anything, if you needed something towed or hauled, or baled, Charlie would help you out. Not very quickly but he certainly would.  He has no mobile, first person for years to give me a landline number. His wife will take a message you see…
 I confess to getting the giggles when he said where he lived. Theres a funny sketch Micheal Macintyre does about moving to the country, in which he asks why country people feel the need to call in on new neighbours, and tell them where they live. They don’t, he says, use normal addresses to do this, but say things like ‘I live in the big white house by the church’  Of course Charlie said he lives in the pink house down the road and that was me chuckling,  thinking of this very sketch. 

Questioning Farmer Charlie about who owns what land around here, he told us about Farmer John (am eternally grateful these are such common names and I can't be done for liable)  Apparently Farmer John owns lands around ours, farmer John is, according to Farmer Charlie,  ‘very old’,  about 70. Given that surely Charlie is at least that age, its funny that Charlie sees John as old and not himself.
Farmer John doesn't farm anymore but still owns all the land. I got the impression Charlie’s not that keen on Farmer John, or maybe he despairs of farmers who give up farming? But we should go and meet him, apparently.
 Leaving me a free giant bale of hay at the end of the day, I think Charlie went home to tell the neighbours he’s met the English people, - the lady with the ponies he called me. Suspect he told them he couldn't understand most of what I was saying either. ;) 


Countryside living, the first truths...


This isn't the first 'out in the sticks' home we have had. And to be honest, this house being approximately 15 minutes from a local town, isn't exactly 'out in the sicks' either. However, its definitely more rural than most. So here is what the first weeks have taught us about the real side of going rural.

Its blissfully dark. I now live in one of the 'dark skies' areas, one of only five in the whole world. NO light pollution whatsoever, meaning if you look up on a clear night you will just stand still and gawp. The Milky Way is visible, the stars are in their thousands and it feels very surreal. Of course dark has its draw backs.  I don't ever want to be looking for a lost animal out in that dark, its like shutting your eyes.  Am I afraid? no, I am not actually afraid of the dark, more of any people in the dark, and {currently}  I feel its SO dark the average scary bad person will be freaking out themselves in such darkness. And at least I will know my way around ;) 

Behold 1984. I joke, a little, but parts of this lifestyle are like going back in time. Sundays mean almost everything is shut. Not just offices, but shops, wholesalers, feed stores, cafes, - SHUT.  Previously living a few miles from a 24 hr city means this is a learning curve for us. You will run out of things and have to stay run out! *shock horror ;)  Something that we have never had to handle before, with everything at our fingertips in the city. Wednesdays also mean late opening for the entire local town, and by late opening I don't mean they stay open late at night, I mean they do not open their doors till after 10am.  

Becoming familiar with the dreaded GPRS appearing on your mobile. Signal is patchy. It goes 4G to nothing in mere steps. It also means 900 emails and text arrive at once when you arrive in a 4G spot, actually more annoying to me than being 'unplugged'. 
Workmen still hand out their landline numbers. This means they may not be in when you call them. This baffles me, I haven't told anyone a landline number for many years, but I guess no rural farmer over 60 feels the need for a mobile phone that only works when they are home anyway... 

When anyone welsh local says 'now' they mean vaguely in the next 24 hours. People, workmen in particular, say things like 'I'll drop in on the weekend'. If pushed by us town folk, they may narrow it down to "I'll come in on Sunday" But they genuinely do expect you to be home the entire time. They aren't being funny, people chill out and stay home 90% of the time. I believe we will too, its just getting used to that! 

The real factor does indeed kick in when you learn the difference between a septic tank, cesspit, and waste soak away. You may not have mains gas either, and most people don't have mains drainage. I love my mains water very much as it just works, LOL. If you town folk could all take moment to dwell on the wonders of your mains supply of anything, because whilst its easily possible to live without mains of them, its interesting learning curve... to put it mildly. 

There is just one. One GP, one school, one pest control man, one etc etc.... and when they are on holiday... you're screwed til they come back basically. 

They forget the lack of countryside in our blood. Or in my husbands blood.  'Just cut that tree down, and move that fence over, that would be fine' are instructions they just fling about, with no clue that neither of us have ever cut down an entire tree. Or laid stone steps, or built a roof on anything or...  You get the idea. Its not thro lack of willing either, I think my husband now owns most of the garden and farm machinery store. He's certainly on first name terms with the owner. 

People talk to you. This is why everything takes me hours. People in shops, -or just on the road, or walking by - stop to talk. And I'm not on about friendly hello how are you either. I mean talk. Life stories. Genuine hour long stories. I only stopped to stroke this man's dog once and got a very interesting but very long life story from him. It was interesting, {he has metal lung, and is walking the canal paths of Britain, I kid you not}  and I was fascinated but I had only just gone out for milk and was over an hour...  Either I will have to learn how to be rude enough to stop conversations and leave, or I will just have to allow hours for getting milk. 

Still love it.