Sunday, 7 January 2018

Weston's Wassail

We had a family evening out, almost unheard of for us as we're known for being pretty strict on the bedtime regime. The kids are getting that little bit older and so we're starting to have a few bedtimes past 7pm. The kids were dead to the world long before we got there.



We decided to go to the Wassail at a local cider producer. Weston's vintage cider is my drink of choice so I thought we had better help bless those apple trees to ensure a bountiful harvest this year!


I'll let wiki tell you what it is if you're none the wider, 'The orchard-visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting  incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year. Traditionally, the wassail is celebrated on Twelfth night. The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn'.

It all started with some traditional Morris dancing; which if I'm honest has always creeped me out a little.  It seems lots of countries have a beautiful and moving traditional dance and we have Morris dancing. It all strikes me as a bit odd, but I suppose that's the British for you. 

Anyhow the 'leader' had a good sense of humour and had a presence that kept everyone entertained. We processed with lit torches (how long that'll last before someone stops us potentially setting ourselves on fire who knows) to the orchard. 





Here there was some dancing and chanting, fires were lit and the kids got to hang toast on the tree (a gift for the tree spirits) and cider was poured over the roots of the tree. 



We almost got to see a human sacrifice when one of the dancers missed his aim in the dance and struck another guy in the face with a club. His nose was streaming blood poor thing and he had to bow out of the dancing. A huge amount of shouting and banging then took place from us all and someone shot a volley from a gun and we were done. There was also a skeleton horse but I'm not sure what that was all about.






Much fun was had by all but the kids were shattered today.

At home we've been trying to finish the upstairs so I'll post some pics here soon.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Merry Christmas and our exciting news

Merry Christmas! I hope you've all had a great time with friends and family celebrating the season.

Our Christmas has been fairly relaxed. Christmas eve was spent with my best friend and her family, then topped off with a quick visit to some of our neighbours/friends (also a young family with children). The kids were full of the Christmas spirit and we loved it.

Yesterday was spent with my mum, sister and her fiancee after unwrapping pressies at home. The excitement of the day before led to one overtired little girl along with subsequent behaviour, the less said the better. Whilst it was great to see family I confess to preferring Christmas day at home.





Now onto our big news... we've bought more land!!!

I'm sure I've probably mentioned the wilderness next door, a field covered in brambles that has been neglected for the last 20 years at least; well now it's OUR wilderness.

Ever since we moved in we have coveted the land, if only because we like our privacy and I've always worried someone would decide to do something with it.

It all started about 4 months ago when I popped into another of our neighbours, Annie, to have a chat. This invariably ends with her offering me glass of wine, me saying I shouldn't and then being over at hers all evening and wondering home merry.

I mentioned how we'd always wanted the land and in true country fashion she knew who owned it; an elderly lady with failing health and even directed me to her house. James and I drafted her a letter asking her to consider us if she ever wanted to sell. A few days later she gave us a ring, we agreed a price and it went to the solicitors. Now they know how to make their cut, so after four months of constant chasing it finally became ours a few weeks ago.

We have a friend, Kev who may be able to help us clear it,  but in the meantime we've made a start with a hedge trimmer, chainsaw and streamer, but it's slow going.

We had a bit of an adventure this weekend with the kids forging through the brambles and found a polytunnel frame!!!! Now as to plans, all I know is that I want a small orchard and more planting space, otherwise it's all up for grabs, so I'll need some ideas. It's about an additional acre and a half and I did a quick map so you can see our original plot in red and the new land in green.





 

Friday, 22 December 2017

We're back online and it snowed!!

We have returned to the modern world today. BT open reach have finally gotten their act together after four engineer visits and a battle with health and safety rules to scale the pole and join two wires together. Kidding aside for the second time in the last year or so our phone line came down and the incompetent idiots at plusnet and BT have finally managed to arrange for it to be fixed. It's good to hear that even though we pay a premium as we live in the country and BT have a monopoly on the line, that the money can be put to good use and pay four engineers to do a half hour job.

As you can tell I'm a bit sore over this. But miserable old git moan over.

On a happy note, a fortnight ago it snowed like I've never seen before and it was magical!

This exciting event happened over a weekend and so we got to enjoy it with the children. Come Monday a tree came down and blocked our lane (and brought the phone line  down) so we both missed work (v. exciting). 
James got the chainsaw out, I moved the wood (next years heating) so we got to have an extra day making the most of the season. Without sounding too corny it was so much fun and I think we enjoyed it more than the kids did. We made snow men, snow angels, had snowball fights, went sledging and had lots of pretty walks. Here are some photos for your enjoyment (visiting here is like sitting next to an old lady on the bus with pictures of her grandchildren). 

I was desperate to post the pics as snow is such a rare event but next time I post we've got some exciting news (no more babies before you get excited!).















Snow is tiring!


Sunday, 19 November 2017

Gathering next years wood and learning to ride

Last week baby girl and I visited with friends on my Friday off to make the Guy for the bonfire. Can you believe it's something I'd never done before?! In typical fashion the kids joined in for a few minutes then lost interest and played in the sandpit. The adults however enjoyed finishing the job. Some of the guys even briefly made the Guy 18+, show's we never got past the teenage stage!





The next evening we did the bonfire and fireworks; unfortunately we missed the Guy going on the fire, apparently he went up in seconds.

We had another big moment last weekend, big man learnt to ride his bike. He is naturally cautious and the fear of falling was holding him back, but with some encouragement he got it.



This week the kids had to go to school dressed as a superhero for Children in need day on Friday. Now as you guys know I'm super tight and it grated that I had to buy a costume for a single day at school, it goes against my anti-consumer sentiment but I know it's important for kids to feel they fit in so I bit the bullet and ordered a costume. Which to be fair he loved.



James' workplace had a family open day yesterday and it was so interesting. I confess I didn't anticipate it being so good but watching the huge machines at work was great and seeing a factory line was fascinating. We couldn't see his office unfortunately, but that's not where all the work happens anyhow ;-)



Yesterday James went off with a mate to cut up some Ash that had come down on a neighbours land last year. The neighbour was kind enough to say we could have the wood if we could get it out. Now they were a few hours longer than I expected as it was inaccessible but the pickup came home loaded with wood and filthy. Today he's split it all ready to season. There's more to get but it will have to wait for the land to dry a little. The wee man helped and baby girl was sat with me in our bedroom watching the boys and shouting encouragement from the window. 







The kids went to another local friend's house for a few hours this afternoon and I got the opportunity to write an essay for my training program at work. The program should finish at Christmas so it's the last push to do yet more essays and portfolios. Unfortunately there is no qualification at the end of it so it seems a pointless amount of work, but it means my employer is funded to train me so I just have to put up and shut up.

Apart from that the weekends at the moment are spent in cleaning the house, the chickens, the kids etc and doing some work from home online. Come the new year we want to focus on the  growing season and eating the outside sorted.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

Fourth bedroom coming together, a new door and lights wired...coming along nicely.

I've been lax again in keeping up to date with the house goings on. 

Last month we finally fitted a shower in the bathroom and now there's just the skirting to be fitted.

The wee man's shelves are all painted and they are now choca with toys. We had a bit of a sort out and the hallway is now lined with toys that need to find a new home. The kids keep getting them out and playing with them; typical, they've not been touched in over a year! 

James has been ploughing away splitting the room that had once been part of a bedroom and the front hallway. We're making a small fourth bedroom/study and an en-suite for our room. The stud wall is up, insulated and plasterboard. 

He has also been putting up insulation and plasterboard in the hallway between the original beams. The plan is to get them cleaned eventually so that the old oak and the craftsmanship can be on display. There's a lot of beautiful beams throughout the house that have been painted black that we hope to one day strip back.


You can see the very old wallpaper on the nine beams

The best bit of all is that James has wired in lights in the hallway so you can walk around at night without falling up the step into the extension. The only issue is that you can't yet turn them on downstairs so we have to turn them on in the light or take a torch upstairs for the initial journey as the switch is at the furthest end of the corridor! You'll be pleased to hear there are plans for a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs too.



This week the wee man got a door fitted to his bedroom. He said a few weeks ago that he would like a door for Christmas from Santa. That made James and I feel pretty shit so we moved the job up the queue. I've probably said before that hanging doors is the one job James is crap at (he says this not me) so we have to pay a carpenter to do the job and money is a bit tight at the moment. The guy did an excellent job and I did the first coat of varnish this afternoon.

Whilst I painted and made a stew for tea, James plastered the ceiling in the new bedroom; we're back to being efficient and getting things done around the house.



Here's a pic of pud helping me pot up some seedlings that I'm growing from seed I saved this year from a plant I bought.


Lastly, James got a new car as his last car died. It was an automatic and a Rover so the gearbox replacement was more than the car was worth. We got hold of a stop gap car for £300 to tide us until next year but it kept not starting so we've bitten the bullet and had to borrow to get a newer one. Not part of the plan, but it's essential when you live in the sticks to get to work and earn money. Anyhow, it's 10 years old, but low mileage and James loves it, so it all works out in the end.