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Sunday, 9 September 2018

Home.

How can I paint a feeling with words.
The dusty remnants of a hot day gone stale. The still air waiting for the cool of night to descend. My life here is a million miles away from my imagination, both a blessing and a strange mix of excitement and dislocation. I love these late walks with the dogs, the final goodnight to a full and busy day. The ponies have the last of their daily hay, the chickens put to bed and the dogs and often the cats walk with me along the long and silent road as our nightime slumber approaches.
Tonight, the moon has yet to rise, the shadows are heavy and a dark, a silent shape follows our progress beside the tall, over my head corn. Finally, she can stay quiet no more, a little meow and I know that it's Piper, it's always Piper. Soft and silky, like smoke at our heels. We turn for the return and she falls to the ground in a dramatic gesture of needyness. Cuddle me, she squirms. We stop and do. She then falls in beside us and we return through the golden arched light of the trees, illumined by the house light. Home, familiar yet still new.

My poetic meanderings are what fills my brain as I say goodnight to the day that's been. It's hard and lovely here :D

Friday, 31 August 2018

The opposite of shopping!

It's been a full on busy week here at the Wildewood as we tried to spend every spare moment we could with our family while they were here. I say 'our' family when  really they're T's family who have extended their warmth and affection to me, I feel very lucky <3 My own family are often lacking in the warmth department and it's made me sad on more than one occassion.
However, a good thing happened a few months back. My long estranged Father contacted me through the mighty power of FB! I've been in touch with my half sister for a few years but suddenly I recieved a message from my Dad. It's a small word but has slipped so easily into my vocabulary. Dad. I had a childish pleasure from typing that word into my phone after so many years without a father of any kind. My Stepfather was wonderful and I had a lovely early childhood with him, but when he moved out, we lost touch and he found a new family. Sad but true.
Finally now, I feel connected and I understand why I'm so different to the family I grew up with. Some members enjoyed calling me 'freak' because I refused to fit in with the rest of them and their ideas of how I should live. Now finally it all makes sense. My Dad has always travelled and made his own work, he's been successful at just about everything he turned his mind to and I'm happy to know I've inherited some of his pioneering spirit :D



But this isn't a post about family, it's about a lifestyle change. I've learnt so much from my garden, about what grows easily and what is worth a bit of effort, but the biggest lesson has been in how we eat. Before the veggies started to come in, we would decide on meals, make a  list and go to the shops.  Lately though we've been checking the garden first then heading to the store cupboard and building meals around what we have here. Our food bill has halved over the last month. Our conversations often start with 'What do you fancy with spinach tonight?' Or 'Do we have any different courgette recipes?'
So this has saved us money for the summer months, but what if we can extend that further? We need to store our food safely, grow veggies in the poly tunnel so that we have greens all year, maybe even some salads in winter. It's all very exciting and helps me to deal with the black dog of anxiety who still comes creeping around from time to time.
Unfortunately one of my nightmares came true and my tomatoes have developed blight. I'm very disappointed with how they've all failed this year despite my constant attention and efforts. I'm going to pull them out today and make green tomatoe chutney. I was so looking forward to biting into a sun ripened home grown tom! Never mind, some of them ripened in the greenhouse and I don't even remember planting yellow ones, but that's the colour they turned out! The taste was a bit bland too. I hope I'll have better luck next year!

 Lettuce and bok choi.
 Salads, melons and cornichons.
Basil and peppers.

Our successes so far have been with the spinach, a wonderful variety that was just a cheap packet from Wilkinsons. The spinach beet has been good, but no comparison in flavour so I'm letting the beets grow now.
The lettuce has been a big success, especially since I discovered slugs hate coffee grinds and sawdust!
Basil has also been a huge success but coriander either hasn't grown or has bolted right away. I need to find a better place to grow it as it's getting too much sun.
This is the first year I've had success with peppers and they're growing nicely as are the chillis, so I'm looking forward to them.
The beans were a late starter but are swelling nicely now. I grew three varieties but the only survivors have been Gigantes a large soup bean from Italy. I have some small bush beans growing called Cupidon. I planted these a few weeks ago as they're quick growing and I'm experimenting with a fall garden. Fingers crossed.
Also in the fall garden I have radishes, kale, cabbages, bulb fennel, cornichons, herbs and carrots.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Pulled.

I sometimes feel like I'm being pulled in different directions and the essential me gets diluted as I try to hold it together. This isn't a complaint as I only realise it's happened when something snaps me back into place. The weather has begun to drift into cooler mornings and the scent of Autumn creeps up on us as we go about the late night feeding routine. That's when I begin to feel like me again. I start working on wool projects in my mind, plan the next square for my cushions and think about lovely thick blanckets to snuggle under.

Yesterday started cool and damp, but soon the day blossomed into a hot summers day. We had a full on morning of cooking as we prepared to entertain our largest family group yet. Seven of T's family have come over together from the UK and his brother and wife have driven up from La Rochelle to see our house and meet the animals.

I made courgette and sundried tomato soda bread.
 A white loaf.


Four quiches, all vegetarian.
 And this is how it all looked put together. I didn't have time for photos as everything came out of the oven because it was like a conveyor belt. Cook it, cool it, cover with tea towels until serving!
 Everyone had a lovely time and I had some lovely compliments on my cooking and even a suggestion that some things would sell well at market. What high praise indeed :D
 While the adults rested after lunch, T's nephews helped with feeding the horses and they were such willing helpers. It was a lovely day and the first of many :D
Today I'm planning on some knitting in between feeding horses and pampering my little seedlings, have a lovely one all.x

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Slugs!!!

I think slugs are like the Hydra. You cut one down and ten more appear to take it's place! Most nights around 10.30 I give the ponies their last feed which is a bale of hay spread along the edge of the field. Then I grab a torch and a knife and go slug stabbing.
The big ones are easy, but the tiny white ones are a nightmare. They can decimate a plant en masse but you can't acutally grab or stab them as they're too little. Then, there seems to be a call that goes out to the top field - 'All lower field slugs are no more, move down, move down'! They all march down the pathway from the muck heap to the orchard and the potager - bastards!!! (sorry Leeanna, I had to say it!)
I then stagger, defeated, back to the house where the cats are waiting for second supper! What are they, tiny hobbits???
I'm taking a glass of wine to bed with me now.

Thank you all.

Thank you everyone for the lovely comments. I sometimes find that I have to give in, have a good cry and just wallow a bit. A long sleep always helps and I often wake the next day as a new person feeling like I've lost a whole day with almost no recall of it! It's unsettling, but I just have to go with it. There's no pulling myself up by my bootstraps and I'm sure most people who suffer with this problem know that well. You just can't shrug off the burden of depression no matter how hard you try.

When I was first single after 20 years of marriage, I tried to soldier on. I had to prove something to myself. I wanted to be a Superwoman! It's just not possible, I put off the emotions for too long and in the end it's what caused me to develope Fibromyalgia. Sometimes I hate having this condition and sometimes I view it as my body having more sense than my mind. It tells me to stop, take stock and assess how far I'm pushing myself. I also have to be more clever about how I live and work out ways to get the same job done but without making myself ill.

This is why my workload is so varied, I want to do the garden and work with the ponies, but it has to be limited and then I can sit and do painting, spinning or making pendants. I guess this is a holistic approach and it certainly works for me.

A prime example of taking a different view of a problem is what's helping me to deal with Flash, our naughtiest pony.  He's the worst sort of escape artist. I caught him last week with his whole front end through the fences and onto the road! He just doesn't seem to feel the electric from the fence the way the others do! We had to tighten up the wire and reinforce the electric just to find that he'd then ducked under the fence and onto the newly seeded reserve paddock. I've literally been pulling my hair out. He's also very unbalanced and unaware of his feet, he's trampled me more times than all of the others put together!



Yesterday I decided to do a little 'in-hand' work to teach Flash about spacial boundaries and where exactly to put his feet when asked. He was so confused at first but I discovered that he loves praise and above all, scratches on his neck. He's a very nervous little soul and was given to T as a companion for Jerry when he was about 2years. Jerry and the others all treated him like the baby and as such, he finds it hard to be on his own but at the same time, he throws his weight around like a spoiled brat. Once he realised I wasn't going to do anything mean he started to listen and react to my instructions. After 10 minutes, he was walking nicely beside me, backing up and moving away from pressure to turn lovely circles. The whole 'lesson' lasted just over 10 minutes as Flash began yawning and closing his eyes. That was all he could take! I then gave him some hay and sorted out the dreadlocks in his mane. I'm looking forward to more work with him today, but if the added attention sorted him out yesterday, it didn't stop him from escaping again early this morning. He was back in the reserved paddock grabbing grass before I could catch him!

Monday, 30 July 2018

Anxiety.

It's an old companion is anxiety. Not a welcome one I have to add. I've not had it much since living in France but the last couple of mornings I been woken by it and then the pain in my shoulder takes over and I lie still, breathing slowly to calm down. Sometimes I realise that I have a lot to be anxious about, all that we've taken on here and the huge gamble that we can pay for everything and live good lives. Other days I'm almost running outside to greet the challenges.

Yesterdays post was a bit of a whinge, I suppose, but I'll leave it there for now as it's not as awful as some posts I've read by others!

Today I'll be taking it a little more easy. I have some spinning to do later and maybe some more tiny knitting. I love this, it's such fun.
 I made the tiny needles from cocktail sticks. I might try a tiny garment soon. Knitting for faeries ;)
 I finally got around to washing the filthy Oessant fleeces that I picked up months ago. What delight this one is. It's soooo soft and squishy.
 The ram fleece is odd. It has lots of coarse hairs, but the rest is really soft. I'll probably do some felting with it. I fancy making a black wolf! Now that should take my mind off things :D

Social Media.

It's exhausting using social media to promote my business. Maybe the market has become over saturated but where my old blog had nearly 200 followers, this one has 25! I'm not sure how to promote it or even if I want to now! I've spent a couple of weeks pushing the Giveaway on FB only to be given confusing stats. On the page it appears that I've had 8 shares, but on my stats page it states over 40! Well, I still only have 8 comments!
Shall I give up? Maybe my art and sculptures are as crappy as I sometimes feel they are. I get so despondent sometimes!

Today hasn't been good. All the digging in the rain yesterday left me with the dreaded Chronic fatigue, only todays major symptom has been the weepies! I worry about so much, the ponies, the paddocks the futility of it all. Hours spent picking glue off the walls before we can begin to think about plastering and painting. At this rate, Christmas will be a camping affair like last year. Oh yes, I'm really feeling sorry for myself tonight! Maybe if I swore a bit more I might pick up more followers! I really don't understand what sets some blogs above others, perhaps I'm just boring!  I'll probably take this post down tomorrow, I do hate to whinge!!!

Saturday, 28 July 2018

I love my garden

I really do. I love it in a way I never could in England because I know I'm staying here for a very long time. I'm planning and planting for our future. In England I never felt settled. When I was married, there was always the threat of moving house and then when I was single again, I never knew if I could manage to keep it all together. I worked so hard to keep a roof over our heads but I knew that as soon as the children left college I would move somewhere permanent, somewhere secure, and here we are. I should almost change the blog name to Wild Woman in the garden :D

My new salad bed is doing well and after the rain yesterday, everything has doubled in size!

The chickens love it when I'm in the garden and they always run to see me. I love our girlies <3

 The chillies and basil are growing well and I've harvested the first sprigs of basil for supper tonight. We're having fresh pesto with pasta, yum.
I only popped out to let the ponies into their paddock and found myself pruning the tomatoes. I hope they do well as I've never done this before and it felt very drastic. I usually take out the side shoots but today, I took off all the lower branches and re-tied the toms into a more upright position. Fingers crossed. The squash have doubled their size since my last photos! I can thank the rain for that. Nothing waters the garden better than mother nature.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

This space ....

This space I occupy! It was on my mind tonight as I gave the ponies their late night supper of hay. The sky was heavy with a big, full moon, the stars languid in their warm suspension and I moved slowly too, thinking, as I carried out the last task of the day.
I've seen this sky before, these stars, these dark, late night tasks. It doesn't matter where I live, my life is the same, the space I occupy is mine and I carry it with me wherever I go. The view over the hills, dark with night, the sky bright with moonlight, soft whispy clouds and me, tiny beneath it all. I try to tread lightly, I make my mistakes and try again. My life is a repeating pattern, but it's mine, true to who I am regardless of all that's changed, shaped and moulded me. I'm the same, but different. Older, wiser still a fool and still learning. It's a good life and it's good to be alive.

Sharing the load.

I've been trying to get the Studio up and running with varied levels of success. There is so much to do here, that I can't leave T to struggle on alone.
When the children were here, they helped with the animals and my son learnt about carpentry and helped with the building work. But for now it's just the two of us and I have to help with the house or it just won't get done. It does worry me that I also need to be bringing in the pennies, but I have to find the balance. It's all about the balance!
So this is what we've been up to lately.

The loft is progressing nicely, but the flooring can't be finished until the re-wiring is completed. This is a long slow process as the house hasn't had new electrics since the 70's! We're actually going to have plug sockets in the bedrooms, yay :D

 Our new boiler is in place beside what will be a small built in wardrobe. The boiler is electric and next year will be mostly powered by solar panels. It will save us so much money as the current boiler guzzles oil and is about the size of a small car, it needs to be gone!
 Two weeks ago, the Tour de France literally whizzed past us. Three hours waiting and whoosh they were gone in less than a minute!
 I did enjoy taking photos of this beautiful mare nearby. She may find herself in a painting, some day!
 The sweet potato is doing really well and will be planted this week. I have another to sprout as a back up, but once they get going, they seem quite vigorous, but that's fine, I adore sweet potatoes.
 Here's Maggie looking beautiful. She had a terrible accident late last Friday night and only rejoined the herd yesterday. Merlin accidentally clipped her back leg while 'horsing' around, and she bled profusely. I'm a panicker, made worse by buckets of blood, but we cleaned the wound and put a pressure bandage on it. By the next morning it was dry, but she was in pain, so we kept her in a tiny paddock and spoilt her rotten. The change in Merlin was shocking. He was so lost without her and wouldn't go anywhere without Bo to look after him! I need to squeeze in a little work with them all, but it's been too hot and I need more hours in a day.
 I made my best bread yet! I followed some you tube vids and worked out why my bread has been a bit unreliable. It's all about the kneading. I don't believe in taking out your frustration on the dough, as I feel you're passing on that negative energy into your food. I don't want to consume anger! Anyhoo, the upshot was that I need to knead for much longer. The texture of this dough was creamy like a dry mozzarella. It's hard to explain, but once the dough is ready, you absolutely know :D
 Here are a couple of comparisons. Below, spaghetti squash from 10 days ago.
 Same squash this week. They've been a resounding success and I'm definitely growing them again. I have some wonderful recipes to try and I can't wait for them to ripen :D
Finally, the pictures that led to the blog title. Now that the children are back in the uk for a while, we have the oppotunity to get on with sorting the downstairs of the house. I cleared out the old sitting room with a view to making a start on painting. I peeled off a sheet of paper and discovered to my horror the walls are all lined with polystyrene and our workload just doubled right there!
 I started with a wide scraper, but it was just no good. T found me a long pallet knife type scraper.
 I put on lound music and got stuck in. One and a half CD's later and one wall is finished. All the yellowy stuff is thick glue! Some of it is peeling off but the rest will have to be scrubbed, I think!
So that's my next few days planned out, but I intend to spend a bit of quality time in the studio as it will at least give me a chance to sit down!

Edited to add:   I don't think the squash coming up are the spaghetti squash after all, they're the wrong shape. What a shame, that means something ate my spaghettis and my infill of potirron is what's doing so well!!! Ah well, at least we still have squash to eat!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Pushing through.

I've hit a bit of a wall today and have decided to take the morning off. I'm too sick to eat but I can drink tea, so the wonders of Earl Grey will get me through.
Yesterday we met with friends who helped us go through some planning application forms. We stayed for over two hours, and it was lovely but tiring. We then had to get horse feed and some building supplies. The feed shop is always a success, but we couldn't get the electric wires and had to go to several shops for chicken feed. It was stressful. Later a lovely BBQ with family finished me off. I was fine when I went to bed, but felt steamrollered when I woke up!
So, I'm sat here, watching my little Cotton cat hunting in the garden, Manchee is curled beside me and Walley is in his safe spot under the bed. He loves it there and being such a nervouse dog, it's so important for him to have somewhere he can hide and be comfortable. When we talk about him, we can hear his tail brushing the floorboards in happiness. He's so precious <3

A few weeks ago our poor Fae was rushed to the vets with worrying symptoms. After a very long and confusing discussion with the French vet, the English speaking vet arrived and explained that they thought Fae had been poisoned. You see the word for poison and fish sound identical and this caused a lot of confusion. However, the treatment was sorted and Fae was given strong injections and I had many tablets to take with me. Fae is picky over food at the best of times, but suffering as she was, the last thing she was going to do was co operate. We crushed tablets in kitten milk and syringed it into her mouth, tempted her with pate, fish and cheese. Each day was a new battle as she was ready for us. However, we did get some medication into her and with lots of love and cuddles, she's now on the road to recovery.
 Just as we were getting over that hiccup, Cotton, Fae's mum came in one night with a huge chunk of flesh missing from her nose. Her eyes were swollen and she was so very fragile. A night on our bed and a breakfast of pate (she's not fussy) and she also slowly recovered.
 A week later and the nasty scab was hanging from her nose! It was driving her mad, but I couldn't touch it as the flesh was so tender underneath. A little more pate seemed to revive her spirits! You can see the swelling has gone down in the picture below.

 Out in the garden, the Dirigible Plums are now ripening nicely. I've caused so much confusion on FB because of my renaming of the Physalis or Chinese Lanterns. Years ago, when I read Harry Potter, I found a lovely house in Wales that I wanted to move to. It had a wooden tower and a circular kitchen with bespoke, wonky cupboards. I loved it and wanted to live there with Dirigible plums growing by the door, just like Luna Lovegoods house. I immediately imagined Chinese lanterns when I thought of the magical plums and tried in vain to grow them for years. Now living here, they're thriving, like so many things I'm planting.


I've started sprouting sweet potatoes. Can you see the tiny leaves forming in the center of the picture?

I've also sprouted and planted ginger and the vegetable garden is doing well after a shaky start.
I've made another youtube vid, and I think I'm getting better, I'm less nervous, at least, although it is a bit of a whistlestop tour :D

Youtube in the garden

Edited to add: Apart from going outside to feed the ponies, I've stayed in bed all day, visiting blogs and doing research on youtube. I may manage a little rice for supper, but that's all! I'm trying not to view today as a waste!!!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Tired.

Too tired to write now, maybe tomorrow.

Here's something I finished earlier. I'm so very happy with it that I'm keeping it. I'm a rubbish business woman!!!