Saturday, 23 May 2015

Country Crafting

I’ve always loved passing the time engaged in crafts of one kind or another. It’s something I’ve enjoyed ever since I was taught knitting at infant’s school. Yes, we were taught knitting - boys included, they knitted ties, whilst us girls created clothes for our dolls, then we all made dishcloths for our mums!

Over the years I explored various craft methods, both at school (papier-mâché, raffia work, weaving etc) and at home (origami, crochet, embroidery and so on). As the years have progressed, I’ve decided that my favourite crafts are cross-stitch, knitting, crochet, tapestry and small sewing projects. I’m definitely no seamstress and lack the dressmaking skills that my three older sisters were blessed with. The nearest I get to dressmaking is watching ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ on TV.

Now as we plan how our completed home will look, as it emerges from this strange dwelling currently dubbed ‘the glorified shed’, I’ve started to think what crafty offerings I’ll be able to use to furnish the finished result.

Since arriving here I’ve already run up a handy draught excluder using over-sized pom-poms, and there is a small pile of tapestry cushions courtesy of numerous hours of contented crafting. But which project should I embark on next? Will I even turn my hand to some previously untried activity?

I’ve certainly been spending time compiling a scrapbook of effects, colours, furnishings etc that I dream about adorning our finished home. This has become a work of art (and labour of love) in itself. It certainly holds some tempting ideas, whilst giving us all something to aim for.

Whatever I end up creating, I’m sure to spend many happy hours crafting in my little rural retreat!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Culling The Clutter!

When we performed ‘The Big Move’ last year, we naturally cleared out heaps of rubbish in the process. Numerous trips were made to the local tip, although we still seemed to have an enormous amount of things to pack in boxes.

Many of the items that came under the heading of ‘keepsakes’ were despatched to my mother-in-law’s loft. Other belongings were stowed in boxes under one of two categories – group 1 for things we would need almost immediately, and 2 for items that we would unpack at a later date.

Following the move, we had to reorganise some of these boxes as our plans changed. Our original idea of moving into our static caravan whilst the renovation took shape was shelved, due to an issue with transporting said caravan down our lane. Deciding to live in the ‘glorified shed’ whilst simultaneously working on it seemed to warrant a whole different set of chosen belongings.

We finally organised ourselves and have lived ever since with half of our possessions still boxed and stored at various points around the building. What suddenly struck us a few days ago, however, was that we haven’t missed the things that are out of reach. In fact, we’re struggling to remember what half of them are! Which got us thinking...

How many of our possessions do we not actually need? Ok, we’re living a slightly pared down lifestyle, and when we open the boxes we may find some items that we greet like long-lost friends. But we can’t help wondering whether half the boxes’ contents will be destined for the tip and local charity shops. Less is more, as they say, and maybe we’d all got used to too much clutter.

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens at the grand opening of boxes – whenever that may be. Will we exclaim, “How lovely, how did we manage without this?” as we lovingly unpack each item, or will our reaction be more a case of, “What on earth are we doing with that old thing?” Time will tell, but I have a feeling that we could be saying goodbye to an awful lot more of our old possessions.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

A Taste Of Luxury

As I wrote in my last post, I’ve recently left the confines of the ‘glorified shed’ to venture on a few small shorts breaks. Both times I’ve been quite happy to return to my rural haven, but what those breaks did do, was highlight our present lack of facilities and the strange glamping existence that we currently lead.

The months we’ve spent here, managing with impromptu accommodation whilst renovating this former workshop, have just become quite normal to us. It’s not until we go away that we realise that we’re actually living some alternative existence.

Our recent Travelodge stay seemed total luxury – I mean bedroom walls, can you believe it? At the ‘shed’ our bedroom is just an area created by strategically placed furniture. The internal walls that we do have are mostly bare, but at the Travelodge they were painted! And oh the bliss of having our own bathroom – don’t worry we do shower, we just have to pop round to my mother-in-law’s to be able to do so.

And then of course there was Pontin’s. Although accommodation was modest, there was a kitchen with a real cooker. At the shed we just have a mini oven and a microwave sitting on an old workbench. I even got to wash up in an authentic kitchen sink; here the arrangement is a series of bowls that sit on an old camping table. Oh how the other half live!

It’s amazing how after some eight months or so of making do, the smallest of things can seem like treasured luxuries.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re managing quite nicely in our little ‘work-in-progress’, but once in a while it is nice to remind ourselves of the niceties of ‘normal’ life. And of course, these reminders spur us on to get things moving here. Of course daily life has a habit of taking over, slowing down progress. To save money, we’re only pulling in people to attend to such matters as plumbing and electrics, for everything else it’s a question of do it as and when we can. But slowly and surely things are happening, and one day we’ll have the home that we really want.

In the meantime there’s always Travelodge!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Living In A Bubble

Since moving here at the end of last summer, we seem to have become increasingly cocooned in our own little world.

Life in suburbia involved so much happening around us – people walking past our home, cars driving along our road, casual callers at our door (the latter sometimes being more irritating than welcome) – all of which constantly kept us in touch with the world at large.

We love the peace and quiet of our new home, but it’s true to say we could become increasingly cut off if we don’t make a conscious effort to connect with the outside world on a regular basis. There are no passing cars or people, no one calls except the postman, delivery drivers and invited guests. Even with the general election looming, we’ve not had the usual flurry of canvassers touting for a vote – just one lone, brave individual that seemed to have found us against all odds.

Of course, we do sometimes see dog walkers on the opposite riverbank and boats do pass by from time to time, but we see far more birds than we ever do people, and we find ourselves living in a state of contentment that often means that we don’t leave our home for days on end.

However, over the last fortnight I’ve had not one, but two short breaks away from home that have reminded me of what’s out there. The first was a seaside break with my daughter and young grandson, staying at a holiday complex on the south coast. I was thrilled that our accommodation turned out to be on the edge of the site, with the back windows overlooking a field of sheep – I’ve become so accustomed to the feeling of space! The seaside town itself was quiet, even more so as it was so early in the season, but the lovely weather meant my grandson was able to experience the excitement of building sandcastles and paddling in the sea for the very first time. It may have come as quite a shock to my system had the surroundings been more urban, or teeming crowds had filled the streets! I had a lovely break, but was pleased to be reunited with my rural surroundings on my return.

The second break merely involved one night away from home, but it was a busy 24 hours, that took me out of my little bubble once more. This time it was a trip for just my husband and me, and involved visiting an art gallery, lunching and dining out and a stay in a comfortable room overlooking a lovely harbour. We spent some time wandering around looking at the boats and the sea – as if we never get to see boats and water at all!

What I noticed about both of these breaks was, that as much as I had enjoyed both of them at the time, I didn’t get the feeling of not wanting to come back that I’d experienced when returning to previous homes in the past. It was lovely to go away, but equally as lovely to come home.

So now, here I sit once again, ensconced in my little bubble, enjoying the tranquillity, but making the effort to be aware of the wider world. I chat to folk on Twitter, keep up with the news, will most certainly vote in the forthcoming election and am continuing my campaign to push for a review of Ofsted (more of this and reviews of my stays can be read at over the coming weeks).

I love to feel peaceful and contented in my bubble, but I must remember not to become disconnected from the real world!