The welsh way

projects, mud and fitting in.

New project begins on the land soon. I love projects and work being done/doing the work on our land. It doesn't matter how much snow/rain/mud/curved balls this land throws at us, its our land and I love love love that.  Possibly I fall out with the land a bit when dealing with mud, (and the mini flood from the snow thaw really tested my Pollyanna attitude) but I do really enjoy  it. all of it.Even the overgrown brambles. Even the old metal junk half buried in the top of the woodland.  Even the, I don't like the mud, however much I try.
We have a list of 'you need to do that soon' advised projects, and a list of what we'd like to do projects, should keep us rather broke busy for about five years minimum.

I am thrilled when we get to the start of a new project. Even the ones you cant see - like drainage, or floor joists - it just feel so good to invest time love and effort into our real home. I appreciate I sound sickly cheesy. I apologise, but I am 'still' loving living here, and being here. I say 'still' because people keep asking me - still like owning land? still like Wales? As if I'd change my mind by now. I haven't. I am here to stay, you can bury me in the bottom field.  I also get a big kick out of before/during/after photos. And improving things, genuinely making life easier or nicer for ourselves. awesome. 

Could possibly be the most annoying person a tradesman has ever met tho,... I do make their tea often, but I also want to watch, help and know exactly whats happening why and where. Because I'd do it myself if I knew what the heck to do, or because the bit they are doing leads to the bits I can do.  Plus, often its the first time I have ever seen, up close whatever it is they are doing.
I did not know an awful lot of things til I got here. Not how a chimney sweep uses a drill, not how to build a French drain, not what a four string bale is, not the difference between sheep and horse hay, not how to cement rural stones {disclaimer -or any stone) You would now be bored/impressed with my knowledge of different types of rubble - yes rubble- and the best way to build a drive. Totally useful. Somewhere. 

Herein lies some confusion - 'back' in England, I was the weird country girl, who kept chickens, horses, dogs, baked cakes and was usually covered in straw or mud or both. 
Here I am still covered in straw and mud. But, whilst experienced at keeping horses/chickens/dogs/straw I am not experienced in how farmers do it. or locals do it, or how not to get the car stuck in mud. So I'm the city girl.  here. But not in the city.


I am just going to keep on, smiling politely at the 'sentimental city girl' comments here ( - some utterly well deserved) sort of laughing at the 'farm girl' comments from back in the city, and making my way until I get it right. ( Or own a tractor. I think that might swing it here ;))

At least still being covered in mud and straw means everyone recognises me, city or country folk!


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. 




One week and a bit


It is now over a week since we moved in. Real life has begun to kick in. We have bills to pay, not so fun issues to sort out {pest control, septic tanks, etc etc.... mmmm. joyous} and dull things to do {housework anyone?} as well as our lovely side of life.  We say that walking to the top of our land {see view above} makes us relax again, breatheeeeee out and feel just so blessed. I note we are outside more than we are inside.  There is only so much curtain ordering, loft sorting and sink cleaning you can do before you down tools and go out to play. 

Outside is more fun. Just hanging out with the ponies, watching the chickens, the ever changing views of the mountains, and the new toys - quad bike, lawn mower - are the reason we are outside. Even clearing the woodland part is more fun than too much of the grown up stuff inside the house. 

Still having to remind myself it can't all be done yesterday. The land, the finer details of the house, the flowerbeds, the veggie patch, the orchard idea, the painting, the EVERYTHING, will happen, it will come about. It just can't all be done at once. 

We are here forever after all. 



go slowly.

Slowly. One of the hardest things for me since moving here is learning to not to rush.  My entire daily life was simply rushing. Hurry, hurry, hurry.
There is currently no school run cutting my day up, the animals are all right here; no rush to drive to them and sort them then dash home. The alarm clocks do not need setting. The soft light wakes everyone, if the excitement of being here doesn't.

My body is aching from lifting, walking, unpacking etc and I have to remind myself there's no great rush. That I have all the time in the world to unpack, to garden, to organise cupboards. Days are not split by hours, but more by morning/afternoon/evening. I'm making myself stop. Rest. Do things slowly. My head however seems still to be on Hampshire time and doesn't switch off as easily. We are all working on it. (with exception the teenager who trust me does not need to become more slow/chilled/relaxed!!!! )

Thrilled that this gentle way will become our way.