Tag Archives: renovation

The Wheel turns. Everything changes Part 1

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Nothing stays the same. The Wheel turns and all those plans go out the window. On the 14th June, a phone call from my daughter in Essex changed the course of my life for the foreseeable future – she wanted to leave Essex and come and live with us in Wales.

It wasn’t an unpleasant surprise, just an unexpected one, and her arrival that evening, distressed and upset that her relationship in Essex was over, was the beginning of my sleepless nights, but to survive, one must adapt. I’ve always believed being flexible with arrangements and filling life with new adventures is a way to keep young, so we made a plan to renovate a room upstairs in our house for her, and we would collect her from Essex on 3rd August. Somehow, we needed to turn a room from  a barn-like, cobwebby mess into a welcoming room in just over a month.

It was a daunting task, especially as we were still working at our day jobs (my partner lays and sands wood floors, while I was teaching dance and writing my tenth novel), but we set to, clearing the room and sorting boxes and suitcases. My Mum died four years ago, and much of the sorting involved going through boxes from her house, so this wasn’t just a physical task, but an emotional, draining one too.

But looking back, remembering, grieving and looking forward is good for the soul. We were sorting our house for one of our precious children to live with us. It was a good kind of sadness, and we burned a lot of unwanted rubbish on our Midsummer bonfire, thinking of Mum and how happy she would have been that her grandchild was coming to live with us.

While my partner concentrated on getting the insulation, board and plastering fixed to our wobbly ceiling, I started work on the lime mortaring.

There weren’t enough hours in the day, but I made time to make fresh, whole food plant based meals which kept our energy levels up, and gave us a chance of completing our task on time. (We had our son’s wedding on 30th July in Rugby which took up three days – see Part 2 coming soon) Once my partner had plastered the ceiling, I switched tasks often between lime mortaring and painting, and then applying the coats of lime wash to the newly mortared walls. The scaffolding was too wobbly for me but I used steps and step ladders to reach almost to the appex and my partner finished the rest.

The other room upstairs also needed to be cleared,

and my partner was playing a gig at a birthday party, Tribal Unity were dancing at a steampunk weekend in Blaenavon and we were both performing at the Lampeter Food Festival. We worked late into the evenings.

Finally, we arrived at the days before we needed to go and collect our daughter, three cats, a rabbit and all her possessions. We pulled back the old lino to reveal the wooden floor.  

There was only time for one buff and coat on the floor as we needed to furnish the room, but apart from a wobbly board and a few repairs to do, it came up beautifully. I made a curtain from some new sparkly organza that was given to me, and a seat cushion, cover made from a new cream curtain. With the bed and a chair, it was beginning to look more welcoming. The room had a new door, but we ran out of time to finish the panelling and had to put a dustsheet back up. Chests of drawers and a hanging rail were accompanied by rugs and bedding, and the room was finished to the best of our ability in the time allotted.

Our daughter loves her room, the bunny likes her home in the byre and the cats are getting used to being part of a bigger cat family. The angst of the past weeks is over, and we’re all looking ahead to new beginnings.

If we’d still been smoking, I don’t believe we’d have had the capacity to keep working at this pace for so long, and the good, wholesome food really helped too. There were sacrifices (see Part 3 coming soon) but those things in life that are worth working for often require compromise.

We’re all enjoying the sunshine, catching up on outdoor jobs and looking forward to new exciting projects next year.

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The Veil of Secrets

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Upon the road to Samhein, I’m facing my fears. Working on my root chakra, Muladhara, the fears of the past haunt me less.

1655477_912692688801104_1676088900175960390_oI am no longer a child. Little Wendy met her fears in the safe place in the faery wood. They were part of her once, a constant reminder but now, they are abandoned. She leaves the wood a woman. Little Wendy is still there but she is more than that now. I have followed my dream, to live, write and teach in Wales. This bravery is new. This courage is inspiring.

As the Sacred Wheel turns, Samhein beckons, the time when the veil between the worlds is thin and the future, a step away. What secrets lie beyond the veil?

‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you’, written in 2012, I suggest you take time to declare your intent….

“81: Declare your intent
As we draw towards the end of October, the summer is over and
before us, the long months of winter beckon. This is the time for new
ideas and new plans and, in my experience, choices.
Our ancestors used the coming months to preserve and conserve food
for the winter and organise themselves for the coming spring and we
too can follow this example by conserving the ‘seeds’ of ideas and
plans that proved their worth, burning those that didn’t and beginning
a new seed bank of our own.
A few years ago, two aspects of my life were taking off, writing and
dancing, but I didn’t know which to pursue. I sought advice from a
dear friend, a wise and wonderful lady. Her words have stayed with
me and I use them when making all my life choices.
I gave each of my plans an intent. To writing, I gave ‘to write a novel’
and to dancing ‘to share my love of dance.’ Both ideas developed but
at a different pace. Phoenix Bellydance was born and, in the five
years I taught Egyptian Bellydance, I introduced over 300 women
and girls to the dance. I wrote my first novel over three years while
waiting in the car to collect my children from school.
Write down your ideas for your future on coloured cards and place
them where you can see them (March). You could carry a small
version in your wallet or purse. Decide the intention of each idea and
add that to the card. If you plan to do something to make money, that
is your intent. If you want to help people, that is your intent. My
recent novel was published because my intent was to share the story
with as many people as possible.
Take your time. There’s no rush.
Enjoy this time of new ideas and choices and, by the end of the
winter, be ready to declare your intent.”

The secret beyond the veil is your intention for the coming year.

I work on my land, cutting back brambles and clearing away dead leaves and weeds. I work on my home, rebuilding, lime mortaring and white washing. The fear is gone. I allow my mind to realise my intent. On Samhein, I will release it to the universe.

 

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You can find all my books via my Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

The BEAUTYof a Book Fair

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Love books but never been to a book fair? Let me tell you how much fun they are…

B is for books…one of my favourite dreams is finding myself in a room surrounded by books.14441101_928492490589252_1450220905486666353_nTables weighed down with glistening covers and colourful banners fill the hall and all you have to do is browse. It’s a wonderful spectacle and an exciting opportunity to find a book that transports you to another world.

E is for education…because you can talk with the authors, you hear the books synopsis but, more importantly, learn why an author wanted to share their story with you. 14492328_10153797841252327_6965602039928982529_n

We don’t just talk about books either…authors are real people. At Carmarthen Book Fair, I shared about lime mortaring and learned great tips on organic gardening as well as talking about magic. Often, there are talks and workshops where authors share their passion for their work and educate with tips on writing or opportunities to delve deeper into a specific genre.

A is for authors…a book fair is a great place for authors to meet, share and unite. Most of us are introverts by design, creating our stories alone in our own world of words, so book fairs are a great place to feel part of the writing community. 14462752_928492613922573_8779798483905616230_n

U is for universal…at a book fair, there is something for everyone, books spanning all the genres. They are inclusive events, often using the opportunity to raise money for charity. 14440912_928494113922423_5699407015268787620_n At Carmarthen, money was raised for Multiple Sclerosis with a raffle. Prizes were donated by authors and the local community.

T is for time…as an author, it’s time to be yourself and time to share the writing you love. The atmosphere buzzes with excitement yet there’s no rush…time to relax and share with our readers. 14449818_10210590035252262_8255655491257185578_n

Y is for you…we wouldn’t be there without you! Book Fairs give authors the opportunity to be there for you, answer your questions and inspire you to immerse yourself in the world of story.14463312_10153797841292327_4601279399998354486_n

Look out for local book fairs in the press and on social media. If you’re in Wales, I look forward to meeting you at Llandeilo in December.

Happy reading!

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…