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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Summer, the season of abundance

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Yesterday, the Summer Solstice marked the shortest night and the longest day. Right now, we are experiencing a peak in the amount of daylight hours… We can still see some faint light when we go to bed in our West facing bedroom and the dawn chorus begins at around 4 am when the earliest of birds begin their singing and calling. Darkness has been squeezed out to a confined few hours which leaves plenty of time to connect with the fullness of Summer present all around us at the moment.

When I walk around our smallholding, all I can see ...

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June, the young Summer

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On this first day of June, our little piece of Wales is bursting with signs of early Summer. New colours and scents are everywhere. Nights are short as we are only days away from the Summer Solstice and we have removed a layer from the duvet! Wild flowers line the sides of the lanes and turn our fields into colourful and abundant meadows. The air is filled with birds singing and calling. Our sheep have plenty of green grass to eat again and are seeking shade in the fields. Their fleeces come off next week and no doubt it will ...

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Birdwatching as mindfulness practice

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Over the last few years, I have developed an interest in birds and have taught myself to identify some of them and their songs. Moving here has been such a treat because of the many bird species that frequently visit the feeders. We also have a neighbour, Paul, who is very knowledgeable about birds and I have enjoyed many conversations with him about our feathery friends. Paul has put up many bird boxes in the area, a few on our land, and he takes records of what species make their nests where. Last week, I went with him to take ...

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Blackthorn Winter

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As I write this, I am sipping a warming hot chocolate and I have both woodburners lit. Outside, there is a heavy shower of hail and sleet covering the ground with little balls of freezing white stuff. Last night, I brought in the sweet peas that are hardening off before being planted out as I thought the cold may be too much for them. I covered the young parsnips planted out in their bed at the weekend but they are now looking a little sulky following the overnight frost. The Brussels Sprouts spent the night outside unprotected with no adverse ...

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It's a wild thing!

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Living in the countryside as we do, wildlife is never far away. We have many species of birds visiting the garden each day, including a tawny owl often heard but rarely seen; we have several bird boxes on our land. There are voles and mice, which our cats regularly bring in as gifts! There are moles, probably rats too although we have not seen any. Some squirrels dare to climb the bird feeders to steal the peanuts and I have seen evidence of hedgehogs but not actually seen any yet. We have slugs, woodlice and spiders too. We share our ...

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