Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Challenge


When we moved we knew that one of the biggest sacrifices we were going to have to make would be a financial one. And in the limbo month between putting our house on the market and holding the open day, I decided to keep mind occupied by planning the different ways we could cut back and live off of a smaller income.

I'm so glad I did that, even if it was just a way to distract myself from stressing about what we were doing at the time. Having been here a month now we are at the point where we're getting a solid view of what we can expect in the bank each month, and what needs to come out. Note the word "needs" there. Because we have been a bit silly these past few weeks. Not ridiculously so, but silly nonetheless. There's room for improvement on both sides and I've decided to start blogging about this as a means to stay focused and hold myself accountable.

Over the next few months you can expect to see a slight shift on this blog from the odd dressmaking post and other random witterings. I mean these will continue, I am a dressmaker after all and I do love a good wittering. But I will also be writing more about living more frugally. And I don't want to stop there either. One thing I've wanted to do for a while now is live a more greener lifestyle too. In some ways I already am. I'm cutting down on the amount of plastic we buy, replacing broken plastic things with non-plastic alternatives, recyling blah, blah. But as living a greener way of life ties in rather nicely with frugal living, it just makes sense to me to combine the two.

So what can you expect from this blog now? In a nutshell, my experiences (successes and fails), any tips I think are worth sharing, the odd tutorial and I would really like to start a sustainable fashion series too. I'm thinking outfits comprising of secondhand, handmade and refashioned clothes. This will mean of course, getting over my awkwardness of being in front of the camera. I'm not sure I'm loving that part of the plan so much to be honest, but I'll give it a go.

Basically, I just love the idea of showing that being green doesn't mean being crusty and living frugally doesn't mean cutting out the fun.

Whether I'm up to this challenge or not is another thing, but it's one that I really want to try and I would really love it if you would join me and follow my progress. And if there's anything you would like to see me cover, please let me know!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Settling in


We've been living in Wales for a month now. The boxes are unpacked, the dust has settled and with Alessi back at school, we are starting to form new routines.

The cottage is a dream. An old and quirky dream. 
  • The windows upstairs are sky lights so we've been using towels as make shift curtains. This was supposed to be for a few days, but we're still yet to buy blinds for them. Whoops.
  • I've been waking up early most mornings with the dawn chorus. This is in equal parts beautiful (come on, it's birdsong) and annoying (it's birdsong at 5.00am).
  • Internet access is sloooow and sometimes disappears entirely. 
  • We have no phone signal whatsoever so calls and texts are received by way of a phone app and wifi. Although to be honest, I'm not finding that very reliable either. The up side is that it's forced me off my phone and I can often be found searching the house for it because I'll have put it down somewhere and forgotten about it. It literally never left my side in Bath.
  • The house is full of spiders. I'm usually a 'pop them outside' kind of girl, but I must confess I've resorted to the hoover a few times now. DON'T JUDGE ME THEY ARE LITERALLY EVERYWHERE.
  • Other wildlife who currently share the house with us are ants, moths and a couple of jackdaws who are nesting on top of the chimney. I can deal with the birds, but the moths and ants need to go.
  • The chickens are loving their new surroundings. Well two of them are. Sadly Titch died last week so it's just Tufty Sue and Snowball loving the freedom and the orchard now. We have to be careful when the kites are out hunting though so they can't be left out unsupervised. One kite in particular, (whom Alessi has named, Flappy) hunts very close to the cottage and has clocked the chickens a couple of times. 
  • Unless the weather is gloriously sunny, the bathroom is freezing. We have to brace ourselves each time we need the loo and baths are only attempted once we've heated the room up first with the aid of a small electric heater at the end of an extension lead. Fun times.
  • There aren't many plug sockets in the cottage. We did however inherit a large amount of extension cables. 
  • We've bought smoke detectors for almost every room
  • After years of trying (with little to no success) to coax birds in to our old garden I am finally living somewhere that's over run with them and I can see them right outside my window. The two most unusual sightings so far have been a Pied Flycatcher and a Redstart. Now my problem is trying to keep up with the amount they're eating. I know what you're thinking, where did you put that tiny violin?
  • There's a steam train that runs through the valley. Alessi is obsessed with it and will shout at us to come and watch every. single. time.
  • There are brambles everywhere. I've made a start, but taming this thorny beast behind the house and in the orchard will be a work in progress.
  • That's right. There's a freaking orchard! Once the brambles are tamed it will be our garden for the duration of our stay and I've already discovered my new 'spot' along with some raspberries, apple trees and an abandoned greenhouse full of grapevines. 
  • There are also woods at the back of this space. If you ever can't find Alessi, this is where she will be. Looking for cuckoos.
  • I'd forgotten about the fighter jets that practice in the area. They come out of nowhere and the sound can be immense. We're getting used to the low rumbling sound they make as they approach now so know when to expect most of them. That said we've been caught out by a couple of low flying ones which results in a lot of swearing and laughing at each other. You have to make your own amusement out in the sticks!
So there you have it. It was a huge leap to leave everything in Bath behind, but there are no regrets. Alessi settled in to her new school straight away which was a massive relief. She came home the other day and sang a song she'd learnt in Welsh which made my heart explode.

I don't know what the future holds for us here. Renting feels weird as it prevents us from putting down permanent roots so I don't feel 100% settled. It's always at the back of my mind that it's someone else's property and that we will have to move again at some point or that they could ask us to leave at any time.
Instead of worrying though I know in my heart of hearts that right now we are exactly where we are supposed to be. And I am certain that whatever the future has in store for us, it's going to be fine. In fact if we can continue to make choices true to ourselves the way we have done these past few months, we'll be more than fine.



Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Great Welsh Experiment


Over the last three months there have been massive changes going on here which I've only been able to allude to for fear of jinxing things. So it is with no small amount of relief that I can finally shout (or type in very annoying capital letters), WE'RE MOVING BACK TO WALES!

Oh that felt good.

We've sold the house, quit our jobs and all being well we should be moving in to a beautiful little cottage in a few weeks time. It feels like it's taken an age to get to this point, when in fact it's only taken us three months. And by the time we move in, it will be just over four, which is actually insane. 

This is also why I've been letting The Dress Tree cruise on auto pilot over the last couple of months, so I could focus on the challenge that is chasing estate agents/solicitors, cleaning, clearing, traveling to and from Wales and school hunting. I'll be back on it once we're settled and will be listing new things again in May.

As for now, the rest of March is looking to be a blur of packing, cleaning and tying up loose ends. Oh and Alessi's birthday is in there too somewhere to add an extra dusting of chaos.

There's going to be a lot of change and muddling through. Not knowing if this will work for us long term. And for once, I'm at ease with the not knowing.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Chicken update


We're on lock down here at Casa Bliss as are all chicken owners across the country at the moment.


In case you hadn't seen it in the news, cases of bird flu have been confirmed in the UK and as a precaution, all poultry owners have had to make sure their birds are kept indoors where possible.
And if that isn't, then to take precautions to keep them away from wild birds. I'm not able to keep my three indoors, but they have an enclosed run so they've just been kept in that. I hate it though. This run is big enough for them, but I preferred to just keep them in it when we weren't around and let them roam freely when we were. Not being able to give them this extra freedom hasn't been too bad over the winter as they prefer to stay in their coop during bad weather, but now that spring is just around the corner they've started to become restless.

This lock down is in place until the end of February, but this date has been pushed back twice already since the they first announced it back in December and I suspect it will again.
If this is the case I'm going to make them a larger enclosed run so that I can add more things to keep them entertained. At the moment I'm relying on straw for them to scratch about in and various treats.



It's doing the job, but it's a pain having to remove the food scraps each night. And to be honest, I think they just miss the company. Keeping them under the apple tree is great to shelter them from the worst of the wind and rain, but it's at the bottom of the garden and they like company. It's why bantams make great pets and are so tame, anyone remember Snowball jumping on my shoulder last summer for a snooze?
Fingers crossed it doesn't last much longer, I miss having my girls bumbling around the garden. And Titch is extremely pissed off about the situation. Chickens have personalities and while the other two are fairly laid back, she is not happy and likes to make sure I know it. Mainly by shouting at me. Look. I even caught her in the act. After three months of being cooped up, she wants more than straw and turnips and I can't say I blame her.


On a brighter note (and a sign that spring really is just around the corner), Tufty Sue and Snowball have started laying, no more shop bought eggs for us! Alessi loves going to the coop each day to see if there are any waiting in the nesting box.
She asked me to take a photo of her with the chickens the other day and was all ready to give me the thumbs up, but when I took the picture what I'd actually captured was all eyes on  her snack! Even Titch was momentarily quiet.


So all in all the chickens are getting on great, considering they're cooped up. Their first winter was a lot milder than I had thought it would be and the coop has stood up to the elements well. Fingers crossed we'll be able to let them out again soon though.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2017


Follow my true North
There is a difference between what you want, and what you believe you should want and I've caught myself getting the two mixed up far too many times last year. 

Celebrate my accomplishments. Again
I didn't completely fail at this last year, but I didn't manage to make a habit of it either. So I'm going to try again because when I did manage it, it felt brilliant. 

Start saving
I have a very specific goal in mind, but more on this another day.

And there you have it. I've been sat here writing this list for nearly two hours and this is all I've come up with. Three things. The truth is, for this year as I see it, these will be all I need.

Happy new year everyone. 

X


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