Sunday, 12 September 2010

A year later.....

Well one year on and what has changed? Well Hubby and I sat down and asked ourselves this question the other night over a glass or two of wine and this is what we thought...

1. I didn't work on Fridays - I do now
2. Hubby was stressed with high blood pressure - his blood pressure has dropped and he is not stressed
3. I cycled to work - I don't now
4. Hubby spent 3 hours + on the M25 - he doesn't now
5. Son had 34+ in his class - he has 24 in there now
6. Weekends flew by in Oxford - they don't now
7. Our income was 2/3rds higher
8. We were careless with money, spending alot of it on stuff we didn't really want /useless tat - we are carefull with money now and really think hard about things before we buy them
9. Son had less freedom - he has loads more now
10. We didn't feel part of the community and didn't know many of our neighbours - we really feel we belong and know all our neighbours
11. We had no animals - we now have 4 chooks, two cats, two pigs and two sheep
12. Hubby and I were 3stone heavier between us - we are 3 stone lighter now!
13. We took a lot of things for granted - we really appreciate things now
14. We were always rushing around - we seem to have more time to do things now
15. We dreamed about having a smallholding - we have one now!
16. We were happy - we are really very happy now

......and we are really pleased we took the leap

Friday, 10 September 2010

Just a normal weekend!

Haven't posted for such a long time as we have been busy! Downsizing and stepping off the hamster wheel is an exhausting process you know

Had a friend around last weekend - oh had nothing planned but blimey she must have thought either a: What a hectic life we lead as city farmers or b: we had put together a rather good show!

She arrived on Friday only to find Hubby and Son getting ready for riding. The evening was spent in the usual way (if it sunny) down the local pub which is in the middle of nowhere but seems to attract hundreds of people. A couple of ciders later and first event occurred - deal done with regard to the purchase and collection of two pigs the following morning.

Saturday morning dawned and off we went to choose the piggies - we arrived at destination and friend and I were greeted by lots of lovely little piggies. We chose two girls and Hubby & co started to load them into the Landy. First pig in and when the second was coming over friend said - I think that is a boy, look he has dangly bits! A quick check of pig and she was proved correct. Whilst waiting for the exchange, friend looked at pig in Landy and confirmed that this too was a girly pig - whilst waiting for second exchange piggly tried to escape out of the back of the Landy. Hubby had previously said that a small electric fence would be OK for these as they could not jump high - mmmmm........ Pigs safely locked in Landy and off we went. Arrived back home and proceeded to load pigglys into the field. Pigglys escaped and friend had to run around trying to get them back into the field. The afternoon was spent at a food festival where the highlight was pig racing - seemed to me that we had already witnessed this event and indeed after experiencing the so called "proper" pig race, ours was much better! Evening drink on the terrace (aka flat roof) and friends popped in. Whilst having a drink Hubby was told that he should stack the bales of hay as it might rain - Hubby had beer in hand and wasn't having any of it but friend persisted so Hubby and friend went off in the dark into the field to stack hay. Neighbours arrived to assist with the hay stacking as they do! Visiting friend impressed with activities so far but little did she know how exciting Sunday would be!!

Friend hugely impressed when she awoke to find Hubby up, dressed and out in the shed making space for hay. People who know Hubby will also be impressed by this as the only time he is ever up , dressed and out is when he is skiing. No snow to be seen anywhere but it was the threat of the soon to arrive farmers that got him into action. Frantic activity in shed, 4x4 arrived with neighbours to help, another 4x4 arrived with farmers. Landy out with trailer "farm boys" standing on side of 4x4, sitting on top of trailer with bales of hay. "Farm girl" arrived to help in the harvest. Neighbour's daughter saddled up horse in car park for a ride. Friend much impressed by all this activity and thought Hubby was very hardworking on Sunday morning. "Was he usually like this?" ........ I could leave a space here for Hubby's friends to fill in! Shed full of hay - looked and smelt good but no real need for all this hay unless we turn the shed into some kind of farm activity centre. Oh did I forget to say that during all this harvesting activity neighbour decided to deliver the two sheep that we purchased so friend and I frantically tried to put in the electric fence as per Hubby's useless instructions. Sheep arrived and placed into field.

Ahhhh rest at last and a quiet afternoon - oh no - we had planned a BBQ on the beach. Loaded Landy with large Weber, surf boards etc and all climbed in (Well Son had to go with neighbours). Arrived at beach - raining. Not to be put off, Men decided to go surfing and left friend and I at BBQ with a box of wine. Well it could have gone one of two ways, but embracing the good old British spirit we put waterproof coats on, lit BBQ, opened box of wine and played rounders!

As another friend so excellently put it ....." A normal weekend for your friend then?!"

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Country Lesson 2 - In order to eat meat you have to kill something first!

Well the day dawned bright and sunny. Hubby went over to have a word and say thanks before he took Sausage and Bacon off to piggy heaven. Now I am under no illusion where meat comes from, that is why we named our pigs Sausage and Bacon - and they have had a fantastic life compared to some of the pigs that are intensively farmed to produce our pork and bacon....BUT it was actually harder than I thought this morning saying goodbye to them. I have not got as close to them as Hubby as he has done most of the feeding, but when I saw them driving off the vision that kept on springing into my mind was of their little ears flopping over their eyes as the followed me around the edge of the field. I loved the way they used to wiggle their bums as they scratched themselves on their pig ark, I loved the way they used to squeal when they heard the gate open or the car on the gravel as this usually meant that food was on its way, I also loved the way you could hear them snoring from our garden. I am not getting too sentimental though as this is yet another lesson in how to live the Good Life in the country. Something has actually been killed to produce the meat on our plate and this will be happy pork it will have the fewest "air miles" on any pork that I have ever eaten, it will have had a good pampered life, and it will have no chemicals pumped into - still Hubby and I did have a little sigh and I have to admit I had a little tear in my eye when we looked at the empty ark. Streaky and Smoked are about to be born shortly though so time to move on - how did Son cope with all this you may ask. Was he upset by the stark reality of the country way of life - Oh No! When asked if he felt a little sad he replied "No just tell me when can I get my black pudding!".

Monday, 7 June 2010

Why are the weekends longer?

I have noticed over the last few months that despite working one extra day (yes won't let Hubby forget that) the weekends actually seem so much longer. When I go back to work on a Monday I feel like I have been away for absolutely ages and ages. I am not aware that I enter some kind of black hole when I return home on Fridays or that my car transforms into a Tardis so why do I feel that way. I think it is down to chilling and not having to rush around doing things so the weekend starts as soon as I leave work. When we used to come down to the cottage a lot we would be packing up and then driving and so the weekend didn't really start until we arrived at the cottage at 10.30pm. We then had to leave at 1pm on the Sunday to see the rellies so that ate into the weekend too. Wierd really, but in a nice kind of way!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Duck Guilt

Should you feel guilty about a duck? That is the question that is causing me some brain ache at the moment. It all started with Banjo the rescue duck who we homed as he was being picked on by our neighbours ducks. He has settled in well with the chooks and seems to be thriving. He is an Indian Runner Duck. We have a pond in the garden and he loves it, really loves it, he splashes around, quacking away to his hearts content. The dilemma is when we leave the chooks and Banjo to roam the garden they eat all my plants. So questions are:
1. Should I leave them roam the garden eating my plants so that Banjo can have a splash?
2. Should I leave them in the their run with a little trug of water for Banjo to splash in and save my plants?
3. Should I leave Banjo out to get at the pond and leave the plant eating chooks in their run? Will Banjo get separation anxiety?
4. Should I even be bothered about their feelings?
5. Have I gone all soft since I moved to the country?

Monday, 3 May 2010

Now that's a nice hedge!

Our car journeys used to consist of "Oh that's a nice car, I think it is an Aston Martin DB9 I would prefer it in graphite How about you?" " Oh I think it has to be British Racing Green" or "Look at that house that is enormous" or even if driving in a city "Oh look she is carrying a Mulberry" but how things have changed since moving down here. We drove to Brecon yesterday and the main things you could hear in the car were....."Now that is the Landy we need, look it is a long wheel base and has a pick up at the back!" "Yes but would you go for the pick up or just the back where the seats can come out?" "Mmm, not sure but it would have to have checkerboard on it", or "look at those pigs, now they have shade, I am sure ours should have some shade" or Hubby has recently focused on hedges! "Look at that hedge, that is a nice hedge, see he has put the uprights in to stop it from falling over" or "See he has tried to do that hedge, but he hasn't left any connection to the tree base so it will just die!" or " See how they differ up here in Brecon, they leave them a little longer" or just simply "Nice Hedge!"

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Scavenger Hubby and the Domestic Goddess

Role reversal has happened yet again and I find myself taking on the role of Domestic Goddess - I cannot stop baking - as I am still in fat club the product of my baking is farmed out to neighbours and work. I am baking cakes, muffins, banana bread and lovely New Zealand brekkies! I even had a cake stand from John Lewis (who else please?!) for my birthday. When I brought it home and showed Hubby he asked what is was - it was very obvious what it was. I told him it was a cake stand as I had always wanted one -- oh really he said funny enough I seemed to have forgotten how many times you mentioned that you would like one of these. Well what I meant really is I always looked at those lovely magazines with bunting and lovely sheds and things in the garden, white muslin blowing in the wind and a cake stand on the beautifully laid table and I thought oh I would like that it looks nice.... well I now have the cake stand and soon the bunting. I have my eye on the old brown shed too a lick of pastel paint (in this season apparently) and Bobs your uncle! I even have my sewing machine back out - how times have changed - mmm he says. Hubby on the other hand is turning into my Dad and scavenging things to make things out of - oh he says coming home with some old pallets I can make a tool holder out of one of those, or a grow bag stand out of this....mmmmm. But to top it all he came home the other day with half a tree in the back of his landy - he had driven past it several times and it was just calling out to him to bring it home to make things out of and to burn some of it. So he went back with his trailer and chain saw and cut it up. There was so much of it that his saw was blunt and he had to stop - but at least he asked the farmer if he could have it. So in the large shed we now have lots of wood - which Hubby describes as "table", "stool" "trendy square block of wood thingy that you see in Living etc " mmmm I said!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

I don't want to be picky but........

Well one of the sacrifices I made when moving down here was to work full time again. I have to say it has not been as bad as I thought actually, helped by the fact that Hubby became a House Hubby when we moved down here. I don't have to worry about inset days for Son, pick up from clubs, cooking dinner, ironing, washing and cleaning. WOW! yes I think everyone should have a House Hubby it is Fab!

Not only has there been a change of job for Hubby since we moved down here but a change in attitude, when something needed fixing at home it was often left for as long as possible until my Dad came down to do it! Now not only are things getting fixed, but things are getting made too! We have a hanger for the tools in the shed, a wood store to name a few. Even my Dad is impressed at this change in hubby. Onto the food, well not only do we have fresh home made bread, but I came home on Friday to find that the bread maker had been put to one side and Hubby had made it by hand!!! Not only that but it was from Nigella's Domestic Goddess book - or should I say Domestic God! No wonder I have been married to this God for 17 years this year - I have very lucky indeed finding him. But and yes there is always a but....... although he does all this and does clean, he does not "do" the surfaces, skirtings or cobwebs. Am I being a bit picky? yes I think I probably am!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Simple Pleasures

There was a time when a Saturday meant a trip to Oxford, a number of purchases and of course a latte or two. Well I can still fit in my latte but life is much simpler now ...
You will now find me in my red wellies, tracky bottoms and fleece in the mud at the bottom of the garden or in the field. What a change eh? For those of you who know me well you are probably shocked at the very thought! But the sun was shining, there was not a cloud in the sky and the view went on and on... when I opened the chook house they were so pleased to see me (food) as they pecked around me clucking and quacking (Bango). Then off to see my piggies - after fighting with them - they are incredibly strong for 12 weeks old - I managed to get their food into the trough before they ate me. Then I sat in the field and listened to the peace and quiet and just breathed in that fresh Pembrokeshire air. Heaven! This evening Hubby and I just held hands and wandered around the perimeter of our field in the National Park and thought WOW one year ago we were in a state of panic, just about to go off to NZ for three weeks and a big decision to make - should we give up 2/3rds of our income and move West? Strolling back across the field towards the house we said to each other "This was definately one of our better decisions in life!"

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Well have been out of action for a while and this blog entry is going to be thoughtful. My Mum was taken into hospital very suddenly at the weekend with a tumour on her spine - her mobility had been deteriorating rather quickly and now we know the reason why. Monday was a dreadful day while I waited for news on how her operation went, it was the longest 8 hours of my life so far. Went to see her yesterday and she looks well and is able to move her legs which is something she has not really been able to do for several months. They are testing the tumour to see if it is cancerous but they removed it all so that is good news. For those people who could not understand why we decided to give up a "good lifestyle" and a good income, well there really is more to life than that. We are happy in Pembrokeshire, we don't want anything, we need a few things but we are not penniless and can afford the little things that make you smile such as tickets to see Wales v Italy next weekend. More than that though it is being closer to family and after this weekend I am so glad that I am closer to my Mum and Dad. So thought for the blog - don't take your loved ones for granted and give them an extra special hug

Sunday, 21 February 2010


Well I thought having children was a worry but now that we have some pigs - well. At one point last night, Hubby, Son and I were all out in the field in the dark with head torches trying to persuade the pigs to go into their ark! How my life has changed - saturday nights will never be the same again! Honestly we were such townies. The pigs arrived and we all spent about one hour, with several of our neighbours all looking at the pigs. We decided to call them Bacon and Sauage in an attempt to make it easier when we eventually kill them to eat them. I am not sure I already think they are cute. Especially as they wiggle their bums to scratch them against the posts. When we set up our pig starter kit, it came with an electric fence so we plugged that in and thought that would be it, however we did scare them a little when they first arrived (the volume of people gawping at them!) and one of them just pushed through the fence, being electrocuted along the way!! But they say pigs are intelligent and I agree,they have not done anything quite so silly since. Not only have I now got four more chooks, but I also have two cats, and a rescue Indian Runner Duck from a neighbour - he was being picked on by the other ducks. So tonight he is in bed with four female chooks - lucky fellow Hubby says!

Sunday, 7 February 2010


Well the WI night has happened...did I enjoy it? well yes actually I am slightly ashamed to say that I did. WI is Good! When we arrived we were the youngest by at least 15 - 20 years and the committee members were seated at a table in front of us - the Chair wearing pearls just as I expected! She then started to read the newsletter out word for word and I started to have the giggles as she told us that if we were joining the beading workshop we would have to take something soft, a needle, some glue and something to bring your work home in! Well I immediately had a vision of Acorn Antiques and had to bite my lip to stop the giggles coming out. Then the door opened and about five more ladies came in who were all in their 40's so things were looking up! Yes I have to admit it that I am now in that age group myself - hard to believe it I know!

After paying our subs and getting our voucher book I began to look through to see what I could have a discount off - scooters (not kiddy ones), anti ageing cream and tena incontinence pads......mmm lovely. Things did start to look up when a lady came in to talk about make up and I had my make up professionally done - very nice indeed. One of the ladies said that Hubby would not believe I had gone to the WI as I was coming home all done up as if I had been out somewhere I shouldn't have been (what was going on in her mind?!) To make the evening even better I won third prize with my pretty toilet bag. So discussions started on what activities we could plan for the rest of the year ....someone piped up that we could all go on a trip to the local refuge tip to see where our recycling went. Despite this I will persevere as I met about 6 neighbours that I wouldn't have met otherwise. As someone said to me WI What has happened? but actually I enjoyed meeting people of different ages that I would probably not socialise with, and I now know more of my neighbours than I did in Oxford even though I lived there for 10 years. So next month the competition is " A holiday souvenir" I can hardly wait.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Where has the handbag gone?

Well retail therapy opportunity on Wednesday when I went on a course to Cardiff where the UK's second largest John Lewis is. Fab - an opportunity to utilise the late night shopping and pop in for a few hours. So off I went, tolerated the course and then shot off to JL. Not quite sure what was wrong with me - I allowed myself several hours before the train home, but well I was killing time...... yes that is right I was killing time in JL. I wandered around and looked at things and thought I don't want them, what do I want that for? I don't need that. I thought we have so much stuff that we need to sort out we don't need anything else, I even, wait for it, this is the most shocking of all........
walked past the handbag section!!!!!! yes that is correct I WALKED PAST THE HANDBAG SECTION.....without STOPPING!!!!!!
How times have changed over the last 6 months, you wouldn't have caught me doing that back last year. I did purchase of course but look at what I bought:
4 x serving spoons - Essential Items
1 x jar of sweeties - Essential pressie for Son
1 x lined pad - Essential purchase for Son's school project

THAT IS ALL!!!! well I did manage to have a latte - they don't call me the Latte Queen for nothing!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Black Friday: Cheese is hard

Well the idyl of country life has been shattered, and I have been slapped in the face with a very large book of reality. My Chooks, my girls are dead! Luckily for me I slept late this morning so Hubby went to let them out, he rang me in work to tell me that a fox had got the lot of them! Well I tried to hold it together after all they are only feathered birds that lay eggs, a little tear trickled out of my eye but then I had a meeting with my boss so I had to hold it together. I was also in shock I mean all four of them what the hell happened. Hubby informed me that the fox, who must have been in the SAS with extra safe cracking skills, had not only managed to get into one door, but had also managed to lift the other door and climb into the house. He killed all four of my girls, leaving two behind. My lovely Hubby cleaned everything away so that I did not have to face it when I got home, although he has warned me that it looks like the chainsaw massacre inside the house. So am I a softy, well not really, I realise life in the country is hard and that it is the circle of life and all that crap, but well they were my girls. In the morning I would let them out and they would come clucking out and follow me around. As the sun was setting and the haze shimmering over the fields, I would cluck at them down the garden and they would come running out, following me down the garden, pecking at my ankles....sorry got a bit Mills and Boon then didn't I?! So what did Son say? he said well the next lot you should not treat so much like pets, Did my Hubby bury them on no he chucked them over the hedge!!!! Country life is hard!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Can you teach a cat to hunt?

OK the outdoor killer cats, who are now indoor cats, are not killing rats! They are not doing what it says on the tine. The rats seem to have gone but no sign of any dead ones recently, however Eric (chief hunter) has managed to kill/catch the following:
one blue dead - dead
one robin - dead
two blackbirds - one dead one rescued
one bat - rescued
too many shrews to count - all dead
one mole - dead
one mouse - dead

Can you train them with pictures or photos of rats with the word food printed on it? Can you tell them that they are eating rat Whiskas when you feed them? The thing is birds are lovely and it is the winter and we are trying to feed them to keep them alive - it appears however that we are simply luring them down to Eric's banqueting table. OH well - it is nature after all!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Who needs a 4x4? Have a Yaris or a tractor

Well I did raise a few eyebrows with my little Yaris in the country but it has done me proud. I have drive through floods, ice and now snow blizzards and still it got me home. Last night it took me 4 hours to drive a 25 minute journey, cars were abandoned on the roadside, BMW and Saab' stuck my little Yaris kept going - personally I think it was down to my driving skills!! Son got stuck on the way home in the school bus and had to be rescued by a neighbour in his tractor. How cool is that? So off to play snowballs and build snowmen in the field. Happy Days