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Sunday, 16 December 2018

Bouncing back.

I have to admit that lately my mojo has well and truly gone. However, it is returning slowly. Although the day had been looming for some time, taking my sweet Moomin back to the UK hit me far harder than I thought and the stress of the journey with her and then returning by myself has knocked me back more than a bit. However, just before we left, I managed to squeeze in a Christmas market. It was my first in France and it was a very quiet affair, aimed at building my confidence and quietly putting our name out there for future courses.
I was astonished at the warmth of the welcome and at the popularity of my paintings. I can see that the horses are of great interest to people here and the pictures were very popular. I sold several prints and some felted items. Most importantly though, I made some great contacts for next year including a very nice lady with sheep for sale (oops, don't tell T!). So all in all, a far more successful day than I was expecting :D
Yesterday and today was spent dealing with some pheasants and a couple of partridges that T's Dad got for us in England. They travelled on the ferry in a cool box and I was very grateful not to have my car searched! 8 birds in the freezer is a good feeling.
I don't just love birds, I adore them all and I saved many of the beautiful feathers and felt a little tearful when I had to take off the wings and feet. It was almost a push towards becoming a vegetarian!!!
However, I know full well that when I sit down to eat, my faithless heart will forget the guilt and I'll enjoy every mouthful!!! I hope I don't offend anyone, but what can I say? I'm so weak!

A different approach.

Wow! Two posts in as many days, I must have found my voice again! 
Since my post last night about going chemical free, I can report that my skin is still lush and my hair is ok, not great, just ok. I'm going to do more research over the coming weeks and make my own shampoo. I've made soap so I have an idea of what I'm doing.

I need to eliminate chemicals as much as possible from our lives. This is for our health, but also the health of our veg garden. We decided to install a grey water soak away system so that in the summer we'll have water running directly to the potager and herb garden without having to use a hose or buckets from the water butts. The plants that will sit in the first water garden will deal with the waste that's in our water, so of course, they won't be happy dealing with toxic elements. A little soap is ok and if it's homemade, then even better, but I want to remove all harsh chemicals completely. I'll share progress pictures when we get started. Right now it's all bogland outside!!!

My journey with herbs started when I was a teenager. I was given a herbal directory and it just fascinated me. Ever since, I've dipped in and out of herbalism for all reasons, medicinal and culinary. Some herbs and especially essential oils can be extremely toxic in their own right and are not always good for everyone who takes them, so I've begun studying an online course in Herbalism to be sure I get it right.

The horses have been on herbal supplements since our last trip to the UK and the results have been great. Jerry and Merlin were suffering with constant sinus issues, so I put them on an Echinacea blend and they're hugely improved, despite the awful weather.  I brought back for myself a whole medicine chest of supplements that I'm using to find the right balance for my health.  I've also invested in a large amount of seeds so that I can grow everything I need right here in my garden. There are next to no herbal outlets here in our corner of France and I can see a great market for it.

Just by luck, I found a lady called Chanchal Cabrera on Youtube who managed to eliminate the majority of her Fibromyalgia symptoms through herbs and lifestyle change. She says that she's cured, but I'm not sure how possible that is, however, I'm willing to give it a go. I've already changed my life to one that suits me better, so that's step 1 sorted. Her book about Fibromyalgia is pretty good too and I tracked it down second hand on Amazon, but there's probably a link to it on her website.
Here is her website Chanchal Cabrera.  I recommend checking her out.

Sometime ago I read a blog about herbs and remedies. The lady blogger makes all her own creams etc....  I just can't find that blog now, so if anyone knows her or if she herself should drop by, please give me a shout as I really enjoyed reading the recipes :D





Saturday, 15 December 2018

No poo!

I tried this about four years ago. The no poo approach to hair care, that is. The name comes from ditching the shampoo. I managed to last about 2 weeks, no more! My hair was like straw and I felt no benefit at all. I guess I tried it because it was all the rage at the time.

I'm trying it now because I'm having a major reaction to all chemicals and I feel like I have a colony of fire ants living inside my clothes and hair! Nights are the worst because I can't distract myself from the fire and itching. I'm thinking this is a hormone thing as I'm at that wonderful age when my body loves to cause havoc by repeatedly dodging my attempts to live a normal life.

The night sweats were the worst symptom and started over a year ago. I would throw off the covers to cool down and then my muscles would cramp in the cold because Fibro hates the cold and damp. I started on HRT and the last year has been great as I began to feel like myself again. However, recently I developed a reaction to the glue on the patches and I was soon covered in little round burn marks on my butt where the patches had been. I started a course of herbal remedies to replace the patches and after a week, I'd stopped using them in favour of Red Clover, sage and Dong Quai, among others. I'm back to having night sweats, but they're nowhere near as bad as before.

My skin, though, is reacting to everything I use. Our skin is our largest external organ and covers around 20 square feet!! That boggles my mind! When our body is struggling, the skin is our greatest indicator. If we have acne, dry skin, oily skin, it's often due to something going on inside. So while I'm trying to tackle the reactions to my skin externally, I also need to address what might be going on with my overall health.

I have no quick answers here, I'm just going to try different remedies and herbs and keep a note to share with you all here.

Tonights bath was an Epsom salt bath to detox my skin. It was a bit drying, but I thought it would be so I took a pan of oatmeal water with me (cook oats in a muslin bag and keep the water). I washed my hair with a raw egg, which wasn't as gross as it sounds. I then used a vinegar and essential oil rinse for conditioner and soaked my skin in the oatmeal water.

My hair feels incredibly soft but my shoulders are still a bit itchy. My skin feels nice, but I doubt that will last as I have terribly dry skin.  I need to not shower tomorrow and will have a shallow bath instead. That's my compromise as it's suggested on several sites that you only bathe once a week!!! I don't think so!!!

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Making myself do it!

Walk that is! After planning my route around the lake, everything around me held me back from actually getting out to build up some strength. Yesterday I made myself go. I took the dogs and the Moomin who is back from the UK for a few months before leaving for good. It's been a difficult time, facing that empty nest but the work around our little farm has kept me from dwelling on it too much.

The canal is a great place to start building my muscles as it's the only really flat place to walk around here. We did a usual route at quite a pace and I felt so much better after.
Today I'm going to tackle a more hilly walk and will be taking the dogs alone. It's too strenuous for young legs, apparently! She had her birthday last week and I can't believe she's now 20! Where did all those years go?
I'm not getting maudlin, I'm getting the dogs and heading out the door :D

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Outlander capelets.

Autumn evenings are for lighting the fire and watching old episodes of Outlander.The first season was my favourite and I adore the knitwear so much. I'm feeling very inspired to make some lovely items for the Christmas fair next month. I'm not sure what people will think! I love the colours in the wool used here, so I'm going to have a go at spinning something similar.
I have a lot of Teeswater Texel fleece that has a delightful crimp and curl. I accidentally felted some when washing it but didn't mind as I thought I would use it for felted animal hair. Then I watched the episode that introduced us to Geillis Duncan and fell in love with her little capelet. The curly locks would be perfect along the edge of this, so I threw a bundle in the dye pot and played with food dye.
The colours are sooo yummy. I used food dye on wool many years ago and it's still bright and perfect now, so I'm not worried about it fading too much. Once it's felted it should be set in it's colour.
All week I've been working on these little Christmas trees for the fair. I don't mind if I sell them or not, they're really just to make my table look festive :D
The walking hasn't gone well this week as I've been rushing around with the horses. They had a big hay delivery, so the pallets had to be cleaned and the old hay moved or put in their field.
This morning as I pulled the tarp back, this little fellow plopped out. He's sooo adorable, I think I'm in love <3

He's only tiny, about 2.5 inches, but I'll keep an eye out for him as I sort the hay, I wouldn't want to step on him! I'm struggling to think of a name for him but I'm sure one will come to me. I already have Trevor and Neville who live under the Studio;  maybe I'll find more inspiration in Harry Potter. We're working our way through the movies again. I never tire of them.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Rough.

This is the route I plan to take next year.
The weather has been stormy, wet and windy lately. It's caused a few problems with my muscles but mostly it's good to lay in bed and listen to it raging outside!
Tonight however, I have a nasty, sore throat and a blocked nose. It's probably nothing, just the warning sign I sometimes get to slow down and take it easy.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Whaaat?

Two posts in one day! What is going on???

Well, this has been happening a lot lately! To the left is the new kitchen and to the right is the old kitchen. This space in between was a corridor with a toilet under the window. It was such a waste of space! Today the wall on the right came down and now our downstairs is totally open plan. The cats aren't quite sure what to make of it. I've swept and washed the floors and the sofas have been thoroughly hoovered.
We lit the fire tonight to celebrate :D

On Wednesday we went into the village for the Halloween celebrations. I put dark scary make up on and no one noticed!!! Apparently the orbs around my face are a good sign. There are 7!
 The village took a lot of care over the decorations. The bars were blacked out with spooky ornaments and scary people serving.
 This is the view down to the main street. We had free hot roasted chestnuts and there were bowls of pumpkin soup available for a small donation. The crepes were normal price, but looked very good.
There was a big parade and the maire, dressed as a ringmaster came and greeted us and was clearly happy to see us joining in. I love this little village so much <3

A rare moment!

I'm having a sit down after my breakfast this morning as I stupidly took an extra dose of painkillers last night and I feel sick and dizzy today! I always take my tablets before bed so that I can sleep off the nasty side effects, but taking extra doesn't give me the time I need to get my head straight. I hurt my finger a couple of days ago, hence the extra tablets!

Today another wall will be coming down in the house, so we will then be completely open plan downstairs. Monday is my major housework day, so I've no plans to get to the studio but when I do, I'll be weaving as my finger is no good for fine detail work.

This is what I was making before squashing my finger.
 There was some comotion outside and I grabbed my phone in time to capture this terrifying sight!
 Ta daa, it's Dexter :D  He came to tell me he was hungry and where was his dinner!
 I fed the cats and came back later to find!!! Gigi, not only sitting on my work but clearly she couldn't care less :D
What would I do without my constant distractions <3

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Walking again.

The progress on the house is slow and we had a lovely kitchen for a day and then we knocked a wall down so it's all under dust sheets, which hasn't really stopped the dust from getting in everywhere! The wiring is almost complete and the cooker and fridge are finally connected. It's very exciting :D

As if I don't have enough on my plate I've decided to get back to walking, but this time with a goal in mind. I'm going to get myself fit enough to walk the length of our wonderful lake at Guerledan.

Here is a link to a tourist page and features a lovely video of the lake.  Guerledan Lake.

A dear friend, Val, is walking the Camino de Santiago which is a whole lot further than around my little lake. She's talking about walking in honour of the migrant caravan as she puts it. I've spent a day or two thinking about her words and have decided to do something similar.

In my case, I'll be walking for all displaced people but also to show that even someone with a chronic condition such as mine can still live a fit and healthy life. I would love to do more walking and even take one of the ponies along as a pack pony, but maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm going to do the walk next year as everything along the lake has now shut down for the winter and I plan to camp one night half way around the walk. The route can be completed in a day but I want to do this slowly and take the opportunity to meditate and be completely focused on the moment at hand.

I love the lake so much with it's ever changing face and I'm so looking forward to spending time alone with nature and my thoughts.

This is my favourite spot. In the summer this little beach is submerged but in winter the water level drops as the gates are open for the hydro-electric station.
So, my plan for today is to do some baking and then take the dogs to explore a part of the lake that I'm not used to. I'll build up my distances over the coming months :D

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Time flies!

I really don't know where the last month has gone! I've been so busy with the house and the animals that I've barely had the time or energy to write a blog post. I find I need a lot of mental energy to sit and write and that seems to have been the first thing that went!
I can see a little light now that certain rooms are sorted and  the kitchen is underway :D

The biggest task has been to transform the loft into a cosy bedroom and living space for my son. He was sleeping in the old lounge which is almost the kitchen. My lovely man has worked his socks off doing all of this by himself!
First the floor went down.
 The the loft was insulated and new boards were added.
The two big cross beams were removed and replaced by uprights, but I still walked into the down beams at least once a day! A false wall was installed at one end to hide the water tank and to create a little walk in wardrobe on the left.
All of the painting was then down to me and that is a lot of wood to treat, believe me! The white plasterboard wasn't so hard on my neck as the ceiling was!
 Finally I got to play with moving furniture around. The space to the right is awaiting the new window and will be the office corner.
 The sleeping end is really cosy and all of the animals have thoroughly checked it out!

The next job now is the kitchen. This is what it looked like when it was the lounge.

More updates soon, now I just want to visit you all and find out what you've been up to in the last month :D

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.