A lot to smile about

Life is good 🙂

In the mornings Dragon and Star let out and feed the animals here at Middlewick – chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, all under the watchful eye of Maggie the dog. Watching them with animals, up to their ankles in mud, in their element. This is so their natural habitat!

We have some fabulous friends here in Glastonbury and it’s been great to spend time with them these last few weeks, catching up on each others lives, laughing, drinking, bouncing ideas off each other. Amazing to think that this time last year we didn’t even know Jill and Johnny and it was a chance encounter being in the right time at the right place as WWOOFers that brought us together, now we’re on our third visit!

We’ve been lucky to spend lots of time with amazing friends in the last month too – helping us through some tough times, loving us for who we are and just being fantastic. In the very rare dark time I hug the knowledge of my amazing times to me and it keeps me warm and fuzzy.

My Mate Mich – one of Star’s extra Mummies

January – crisp, clear, sunny walks with a pub at the other end!
with friends on the beach – life probably doesn’t get much better
cooking round a fire on a Friday night in January – rules are for the rest of the world!  
The Barts – they’ve caught up with us so many times on our adventure they are practically WWOOFers too!

We have a plan, actually that should be A Plan. We’re back in Sussex for a couple of weeks to catch up with family and friends – and very excited about meeting one of our blog followers IRL for the first time :). We’ll be getting our house de-tenanted and on the market too. Then we’re off back up to Scotland again – the calling of the isles is very strong, particularly given all these reports of the Northern Lights! We have our croft interview, some catching up with friends, a bit more WWOOFing, some getting to know the rest of the community on the Isle of Rum and a Crofting course. Busy, busy, busy!

We’ve also lined up some more WWOOFing for March and April, this time down on the south coast where we’re hoping to make some more new friends, pick up some more new skills and enjoy what is clearly the best suited lifestyle to us again while we wait for our house to sell.

January Part 2

January is also a month for looking forward 🙂

This year, much like last year we are standing at the cusp of another life changing year. Last night Ady asked me if I was more or less nervous about the possible stuff ahead of us this year than I was last year. My reply was ‘more’. More nervous, more excited, more aware of a feeling of ‘forever’ about it. Last year was the feeling that life was going to be an adventure. This year I have a feeling adventure will be our life.

We’re back in limbo to an extent again – sort of WWOOFing here in Glastonbury, although because our hosts are now firm friends and we are that bit more experienced there is less of the learning aspect to being here. Next week we’re travelling back to Sussex and will in a rather surreal twist spend a few nights ‘camped’ in our house. Our tenants are due to leave and we will need to get the place ready to go on the market. We have some stuff in the garage and in the loft, our chickens are there and from reports we have had from the agent and my Dad who did a landlord visit the place will need quite some licking back into shape before it is ready to call in the estate agent. We’re planning a week or so based there to get that sorted before heading back up to Scotland for our Rum interview.

For now we’ll work on the assumption that we will be successful and Croft 2 will be ours – we do have plans B and C in reserve but fingers crossed we don’t need to call them into action. That leaves us with a few ‘out of our hands’ factors to get past which always makes me feel slightly wobbly – if we are offered the croft, if our house sells… in the meantime we are left homeless and penniless. We can’t afford to actually live back in our house with all the bills that entails, we can just about cover the mortgage for a couple of months while it stands empty on the market. Our best option is to head off WWOOFing again really – either down in Sussex near our house, ready to deal with packing up our old life, or up in Scotland ready to start getting stuck into our new one.

We’re scaring ourselves silly just now trying to price up house builds, moving costs and setting up a whole life again. The thing is we know that when we actually get out there and do it we can take on anything – I’m off to listen to Elvis singing ‘little less conversation, a little more action’ – it’s where we need to be right now…

Here’s how the others are feeling :

Ady: I was pleased to finish WWOOFing and come out of Willow at the end of last year as it was getting tough going into winter living in a van. I do miss the van though and when we visited her at Christmas I felt really sad to drive away from her. Coming back to Sussex was a bit of an anti climax really, we felt like we’d changed so much but everyone else was still living their same lives. I don’t feel the same now about our next stage as I did at the beginning of last year. I was so scared we would stuggle with the level of hard work, that the van wouldn’t make the journey, that we were all but destined to fail. It turned out that everything we set out to do we managed though and although I am nervous about the challenges ahead this time I have confidence that we *can* do anything we try. I do feel we have been back in conventional life for too long – we are shopping in supermarkets, watching TV, relying on home comforts. I have my moments of feeling terrified about Rum alongside really looking forward to it. I worry about fitting into the community, building a house, whether our business plan will actually be feasible. I am ready to just make it happen now, the anticipation is so difficult – I want to get there, succeed, or fail and work out how to try again.

Dragon: I’m looking forward to Rum for all sorts of different reasons – building a house,  fishing, bird watching, learning to ride a bike, having a home and keeping animals, having my own bedroom I can decorate how I like, having machinery and growing stuff, finding inspiration for my painting and drawings. This stage makes me feel a bit wobbly, I don’t 100% know what is going to happen next and I’ll feel better once we’ve been to the interview, whether we get accepted or not at least we will know for certain what is going to happen next. I hope I enjoy it all.

Star: It scares me a bit that we no real idea what’s going to happen next. I think it will be so cool to live on an island, I’m excited about the wildlife – birds, animals, the scenery. I’m looking forward to taking some great photographs on Rum. This feels bigger than when we went WWOOFing because we are selling our house and moving somewhere else – more scary and more exciting.

Ah, January.

A time for looking back – I always take some time out in January to look back over the previous year. It’s my birthday on 6th and along with facing up to being another year older I like to recap on what has happened in the twelve months gone by,  to celebrate the victories, learn from the mistakes and congratulate myself on staying put on the planet while it circled all the way around the sun again. Last January we were packing up our lives ready to set off on adventure. Willow was sitting on our driveway, a To Let sign was on display in our front garden, our resignation letters were ready to print off and hand in, a full diary of names and addresses of hosts we had yet to meet stretched infront of us. We were filled with anticipation, nerves and the knowledge that whatever else might happen in the coming year it wouldn’t be normal. conventional or like anything else we’d ever experienced. 2011 was an amazing year, exceeding expectations, broadening horizons, opening eyes, stretching boundaries, increasingly knowledge, whetting appetites, living, learning, laughing, loving.

A photo a month from our wonderful year:

January – on the beach in Sussex with friends
February – our Bye Then party, being presented with the most generous gifts
March – our first host, we slept in our tent, it was minus four at night!
April – Devon. It’s the photos that don’t go as planned that make me smile the most when I look back at them!
May – Somerset. Ady has his 47th birthday and celebrates with stick fighting with Dragon!
June – North Wales. Remote mountainside host with broken down Willow. I learn how to carve a spoon
July – Durham. It looks like a prize marrow, infact it is the worlds largest courgette!
August – Yorkshire. We went underground!
September – John O Groats – we made it all the way to the top!

October – Scotland, wild camping. In a round of playing games Dragon creates one called ‘the long and confusing game’ making use of dice, playing cards, toy cars and a very complicated set of rules.
November – Isle of Eigg. We spent two weeks looking across the sea at Rum before heading there to see it in more detail. From a distance it looked like it could be home, from close up it looked even more likely.
December – Peak District. At a youth hostel for a group holiday with friends.

I also look ahead, spend some time thinking about the coming year and what I’d like to achieve. What hopes and dreams and wishes I have and what I can do to make them happen.

Winter WWOOFing

Six weeks ‘off’ was long enough! Despite Christmas, New Year, Birthdays (Star’s and mine!), holiday and various trips to stay with friends, catching up with family and a round of doctors, dentists, opticians and other such appointments we were starting to feel lazy, fat and stale. Too much time spent slumped on sofas, eating, drinking and watching TV, too little time spent outside being productive and active.

So we’re back in Glastonbury again for a couple of weeks, staying at Middlewick which is now far more than just a holiday cottage complex – it’s a smallholding! Complete with chickens, ducks, goats, cat, dog, horses and after helping to create a new home for them on our first day here today, pigs are due to arrive too!

We’ve been lifting, carrying, cleaning, wearing our wellies and getting muddy. Our arms ache and we’ve had lungfuls of fresh air and exercise. Dragon and Star spent the morning climbing the Tor with Maggie, the resident dog here, meeting up with some of the other guests for a chat at the top where they told them all about our family and our adventures and charmed them sufficiently to be brought cakes :). They spent the afternoon building a den down by the river. Proper education 🙂 Socialising, adventuring, exercising, problem solving, co-operation and teamwork, entertaining and amusing themselves, striking out independantly and generally having a ball. This evening we went swimming.

We’ve just learnt we have been offered an interview for the croft on Rum, so our What Happens Next plans are ticking along nicely. Plenty more to plot and plan for that and even more exciting times ahead but for now the sun is shining and it’s fabulous to be outside working in it again :).