Tag Archives: clom

Giving up is hard to do

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I’m giving up. I won’t be formatting my own books. Why is giving up so hard to do? Admitting one can’t do something is seen as a sign of failure by others but, for me, I’m giving up because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m a lucky girl. I live in an amazing place. DSC_013813083146_1733798136878675_2778952018034820534_nNow the weather is dryer, we’ve work to do on the house and byre. Last year, the farmer who bought the rest of the land originally attached to our house grubbed out the old hedges and laid new ones, dumping half the wood in our field. We’re working through that to keep us warm next winter. DSC_0155My partner chainsaws the wood and I follow behind, picking up the logs, stripping off the branches and loading them into the car. A drive from the field to our drying barn and then the wood is barrowed to its new home. Our beech tree had to be taken down last year and much of the wood became grassed over as we battled to get a roof on our house and save the byre. DSC_0157Stripping away the old grass and twigs for the bonfire and making piles for my partner to chainsaw has become a priority to stop brambles and nettles spreading across the field. Once clear and the old broken fencing dug out, this area can be mowed. DSC_0159We’ve old baths to make raised planters and an old conservatory to recycle into a greenhouse. On top of all this, I teach dance which I love and write the stories in my head that insist on being told and attempt to market them to readers to enjoy.

So is giving up and paying someone to format my books a sign of my failure? A month ago I read a blog post about what you need to do to be a successful writer and it made me angry. The gist of the post was that if you don’t give up your life, put aside the things you enjoy and spend every waking moment on social media, you don’t care about your writing.

12998745_1725523984372757_3935931874685187204_nMy life makes me the person I am, the person whose head is full of stories and who loves to inspire others with books and dance. Working on my house and land is a challenge and I’ve learned many new skills. So you won’t find me on social media all the time and I won’t be formatting my own books. I will be living my life, inspired by my environment and the people I meet and focussing on what I do best.

 

Taking our home back

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One more day, and the builders will be gone. I can’t remember when the house and byre were last scaffold free. In two years, the byre has changed from this…Wales 103Wales 2014 044To this…12985581_1725096004415555_5059410862430744539_n And the house from this…m_DSC01452 to this…11150930_1600818576843299_7145038719453612890_n

Having been nursed and tended by the professionals, with a bit of help from us, we finally take charge of our baby. We began making lists…and added them to the fire! Lists longer than your arm are far too daunting so we’ve allocated four priorities we want to achieve by the end of the summer and we’ll see how we go from there…the truth is, our funds are depleted and as we approach three years in Wales, tent, caravan and house, we need to start living here.

So the outdoor stage stays…12998745_1725523984372757_3935931874685187204_nand we’re going to construct one under cover in the byre. Soffit painting, lime mortar ‘dobbing out’ on the walls needs to be finished on the byre and the gable end of the house also needs finishing. My partner is going to build a straw bale building inside his workshop…a soundproof, watertight room, ideal for planing wood and recording music and we’re going to dance and sing our way through the spring and summer.

We love living in Wales and we plan to enjoy it.

 

A roof over my head

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I’m a simple soul. With a roof over my head, hot water to wash with and basic veggie food, I’m a happy bunny but so far, in our little Welsh farmhouse, we’ve not had much luck with roofs. How excited I was last year when the thatch went on but since then, it has continued to leak and our upstairs is still unliveable.

It’s been much the same with the byre…waiting for responses from CADW, work had to stop and then the letter came, intimating they may consider granting us a pittance but requiring an excessive amount of hoop jumping and no guarantees of help. So we’ve carried on ourselves, the last of my inheritance going into the byre but always knowing we didn’t have the money to finish it.

DSC_1420 This was how the byre looked in July 2015. The weather at the end of last year held up work as the clom wasn’t drying and wouldn’t support the roof. The builders tried and did a good job covering what they had done but hours of work were washed away while we waited for CADW. Architects, structural engineers and building inspectors were brought on board to finalise the roofing plans and in February 2016, work began again. DSC_0242DSC_0243DSC_0245Swathed in scaffolding, the little building felt happier inside, as if it knew it was being loved again. DSC_0247

With the roof trusses in at the end of February, our hard working builders worked through hail and snow to get the insulation on DSC_0254DSC_0256DSC_0258Finally, the byre is looking like part of the house DSC_0057After much deliberation, we decided where the skylights should go…it’s very hard to decide how a room is going to be used when it looks like a cow shed! DSC_0058Now the scaffolding is down, the inside feels amazing. DSC_0061The building inspector came this morning and he was pleased with the work. Sympathetic to this Grade II listed building, we won’t need to insulate the walls but we will the floor…not a worry for us as once the roof is finished and, hopefully, doors and windows in, we will have run out of money.

So the byre, one day to be our kitchen and social hub of the house, almost has a roof and the building has been saved for future generations to enjoy.

It’s raining outside…I’m sitting in my little Welsh farmhouse and I can hear the drips in the room above my head…

Renovating our 18thC Welsh farmhouse and byre

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We’ve called a halt to work upstairs under the new thatch as the sun is shining and outdoor jobs take preference.

11150930_1600818576843299_7145038719453612890_nThe river bank has been tidied. We’ve fished a wheel and debris from the river and had a good burn up so now Mike, my partner, can get the ride on mower from one end to the other. DSC_1414I’ve been busy with my trusty secateurs in Bramble Avenue and on the path down to our little ‘beach. The bluebells were far more abundant this year after we removed a few very low branches, allowing the sunlight in to more of the land.

We’ve paid for a man and his digger to aid with the next part of the byre reconstruction so this week, we are making clom..clay, sand, straw and cow poo. DSC_1418DSC_1419DSC_1420DSC_1421We’re desperate to make a liveable home here in mid Wales but the realities of living on a building site make life difficult, especially in this warm weather with a pile of steaming clom by the front door! (It is now double covered in thick plastic and old tyres so the smell is less noticeable!)

Unfortunately, the digger has broken so work is on hold but we hope to have enough clom for the byre and to finish the sides of the house by the weekend. Sadly, the pathway to the river is only just started but, hopefully, we will soon have a track we can walk or drive down on which we will line with our tree saplings and begin working back down the slope as coppice.

I missed the local farmers baling the hay in our field this year as I was working but the intricate ballet they perform with their machines is worth a watch, if you get a chance. Wales to 21st June 2014 016

Thanks for following our adventure in Wales…do look back at other posts to see how far we have come.

Summer Solstice…the build up

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Since the new moon on Tuesday, life has gone from chaotic to manic…and I’m loving it!

Tuesday is always a busy dancing day, teaching a Beginners class at lunchtime and a Beyond Basics for two hours in the evening but this week, classes were buzzing and we’ve two more events in the pipeline where we’ve been asked to perform. The amazing thing is, we are not a performance group and most of my dancers have only been dancing for a year. Let me tell you our story…

Barefoot Festival 2014

Barefoot Festival 2014

I had been dancing with Tribal Unity for four years when we finally sold our house and prepared to set off for our new adventure in Wales. My wonderful ATS® Bellydance teacher, Deana Lawman, asked me if I would like to be Tribal Unity in Wales. I was overwhelmed and delighted to accept such an honour so from August 2013 to February 2014, from tent life, to caravan life to a house with no heating, I planned how to begin teaching ATS® Bellydance. I found a venue, advertised in the local free magazine, The Grapevine, and began teaching in March 2014.

First Tribal Unity Wales selfie

First Tribal Unity Wales selfie

I met the most wonderful bunch of ladies! I planned to talk to them about dancing at the Lampeter World of Dance Festival in October, just one dance to show everyone how much fun we have in class but they way laid my plan by asking if they could dance at the Cardigan Bellydance in August…and we did! 10603378_10202597850844530_906991781996694645_n Everyone had so much fun they wanted to perform again…and again and again! ATS® Bellydance allows you as the dancer to bring yourself to the group and before my eyes, a Tribal Unity family was born. From May 2014, my Mum’s dementia worsened and frequent trips to Essex were exhausting and painful but these wonderful women supported me throughout and we danced together, for each other. Indoors at the Cellan Beer Festival Dec 2014 to outdoors in the park at the eclipse in March, we have been there and danced.

11012386_10153650985507802_1147847422645631772_nWe’re now preparing for the Lampeter Food Festival on 25th July and the Cardigan Bellydance Festival on the 8th/9th August. We’re dancing at The LongWood Open Day on 6th September as well as two performances in October, also confirmed.

And we danced together to celebrate the Summer Solstice, welcoming back the Holly King as he takes over from the Oak King, bringing in the harvest and preparing the Land for the winter.10346537_1624424897816000_5432437501420269489_n

ATS® Bellydance is an inspirational dance form, combining influences from Egyptian bellydance, Kathak (classical Indian), Flamenco and African Tribal. This unique style of dance is lead by a leader who gives cues to her dancers so there is no choreography to be learned, just moves and cues. It’s hard work! Our bodies get into bad habits so muscle memory has to be created and that means repetition but when you have as much fun as we do, nobody seems to mind. For more information http://www.tribalunity.co.uk

Our house is coming on…we have a roof now! The new thatch is holding up well to the rain but we still need to finish the ends of the walls so they meet the roof so, we need clom…clay, sand, cow/horse poo and straw.

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But first, we need a man with a digger and he has been booked for Friday and Saturday, firstly to dig out our clay (we’ve removed the battered shed and agricultural asbestos sheeting that was in the way…don’t ask!), mix with the straw we have left from thatching and poo we will collect from friendly farmer on Thursday night and secondly, to dig us a meandering pathway down to our riverbank. Last year we cleared Bramble Avenue so we could walk from one end of the riverbank to the other and this new pathway will mean easy access for the barrow and mower and a clear area to start working out from to plant our new trees (ash doing well, beech still a bit wobbly) for coppicing.

As well as all this excitement, I’ve been writing the third book in the Standing Stone series The Gathering, while editing the second book Silence is Broken, getting it ready for publication on 2nd July and guess what arrived in the post this morning?

DSC_1413I love it when plans start to come together after months, even years, of hard work. Staying focussed on what I believe, trusting in myself and sharing warm heartedness helps with those difficult days. Solstice Blessings to all my friends around the world.