First signs of Spring

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Imbolc, the half-way point in the Wheel of the Year between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, is nearly here and Nature is stirring... Waking up from its Winter sleep, it is preparing for Spring and the start of the growing season.

Here on our smallholding, the broad beans sown in November have germinated and are sprouting up from the soil. The garlic too. The rhubarb is growing again. There are dainty snowdrops emerging victoriously after Winter. Daffodils are also popping up through the ground here and there. The many bulbs I planted in pots in the Autumn are ...

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New year, fresh plans...

As the new year begins, it is time to reveal our exciting project for 2017: we have a shepherd's hut and will soon be offering holidays and retreats.

Last Summer, we came across a local craftsman who was selling a shepherd's hut he had built himself, a new wooden structure on an old hay trailer chassis, with big lorry wheels. We immediately liked it and started the process to obtain the necessary planning permission from the local authority to site the hut in one of our fields. At the end of October, after an anxious two months submitting ...

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Winter Solstice

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Today is the Winter Solstice marking the point in the year when the Sun reaches its most southernly position, giving us the shortest amount of daylight. The Sun rises but barely makes it over the horizon at this time of year. I have been out most days at sunset over these past couple of weeks, taking hay to our sheep at that time, and on clear days, I have been treated to the most delightful show of pinks and light yellows.

Have you noticed the qualities of sunlight at Midwinter? It is pale, weak, fragile and hesitant. Not at all ...

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Resilience in dark times

When we were looking to buy a smallholding, one of our priorities was somewhere where we could be or work towards being “off-grid” for our utilities, or at least some of them. We thought that it would help us achieve our goal of keeping our outgoings to a minimum and feel more in charge/in control of our consumption. We figured that a more sustainable and self-reliant way of living would make us more resilient in an increasingly fragile and unsustainable world with rising living costs, limited resources and the serious challenges we face to tackle and respond to climate ...

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The Peace of Wild Things

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When I awoke this morning to the news that Donald Trump was going to be the USA's president, my heart sank. I felt the same earlier this year when the news came that the UK had voted to leave the EU. Actually, it is a feeling I regularly experience when I connect with the troubled world we live in. It is easy for me to feel despair, sadness and anger in the face of all the challenges, difficulties and inequalities affecting the human race and all the animosity, hatred and aggression that ensue. The language in the media has ...

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A natural nod to Halloween

Halloween here yesterday was an uneventful affair: neither the commercialised side of this festival - with all its spook, blood and gore - nor trick-or-treat'ers found their way up to our remote location!

Halloween, Samhain (ancient Pagan Celtic festival meaning “Summer’s end” in Gaelic), Nos Galan Gaeaf and Calan Gaeaf (Welsh for “the first of Winter” interestingly) and the Christian All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day celebrations all intertwine at this time of year. Traditionally now is the time when the harvest is in and our pantries - and freezers! - are filling up; we remember our dead and honour our ...

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Autumn Equinox... an invitation to pause, reflect and reset

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Today is the Autumn Equinox, a celestial event when all points on the Earth, as it travels along its trajectory around the Sun, receive equal amount of day light and darkness. The long Summer days have gone and we are not yet at the time of long Winter nights… at the Equinox, we are in the middle of the Sun’s journey between Solstices. Our days are approximately the same length as our nights right now and with this, nature teaches us about balance and harmony.

During the Summer, our energy and focus tend to be on the world outside ...

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Harvest time

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It is a busy time on the smallholding at the moment with the harvest of fruit and vegetables that are ripe for picking as we approach the Autumn Equinox. It is a time to gather the fruits of our efforts earlier in the year when we sowed seeds and tended to the plants that have now reached the end of their growing life. The kitchen is a hive of activity right now as the abundant produce needs to be either bottled for the pantry or cooked/packed for the freezer.

I have been busy gathering courgettes, peppers, beans and tomatoes ...

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We're on Airbnb!

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It had always been part of our plan when we moved here to offer accommodation for tourists and now that has become reality. To start our new venture into the world of tourism, we have recently registered with Airbnb and in August we welcomed our first guests.

Whilst setting up the profile with Airbnb was very easy, there were some hoops to go through to comply with regulations. We have registered as a food business with the local authority, as is necessary for B&Bs. As we have our own water supply via a borehole, we have had to carry out ...

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A year on...

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I cannot believe I have not written a new blog piece in a couple of months!! Well, actually, I can believe it as it has been a busy Summer here with our son's graduation, our silver wedding anniversary party and having visitors as well as completing various small projects on the smallholding and tending the garden, by now in full growing mode with generous offerings of fruit and vegetables that need harvesting and preserving for later.

At the end of July, we also celebrated our first anniversary of living here. These last 12 months have gone incredibly fast and ...

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