Tag Archives: Wales

Thatching is finished!


It’s been a long wait…our scaffolding has been up for a year but we finally have a roof. It’s not quite watertight up there yet though as the walls still need to be build up at the ends of the house to meet the roof…DSC_1334but we are close!

The thatchers laid a wooden frame over the new commoon rafters and new gorse DSC_1347Then thatched over the frame…DSC_1350The scaffolding is a brilliant place to get a phone signal!…DSC_1352 The ridge is begun…DSC_1354 before work starts at the back of the house…DSC_1356 My partner had to construct the frames to hold the new conservation skylights…14 inches above the roof! DSC_1364Thatching of the back of the house begins…DSC_1367

It’s been a long, tiring, messy process. We’ve argued with planning department, tussled with Listing and battled with the thatcher but finally, we are the proud owners of a Welsh, thatched, 18th Century Farmhouse.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed following our journey….follow this blog to watch us rebuilding our 17th Century cow byre.

Wood and trees


After spending a lot of last winter with no heating, we now have two magnificent and efficient wood burning stoves.Wales 2014 040This one, to heat the lounge, hot water and radiators and this one…..Wales 2014 037that keeps the room we live, sleep and work in warm.

But with only tarpauline and tin on the roof and holes in the stonework, our house is still difficult to heat. We’ve an interesting curtain arrangement around the stair case…extra long curtains lined with velvet help stop the draught from upstairs. The insulation screwed to the kitchen ceiling helps a little too but in order to keep warm, we need lots of wood.

We’re very lucky. Our land has trees and lots of them and no one has trimmed them or managed them so this weekend, we’ve worked hard to take out the trees and branches that are dangerous or have been left to grow in daft places. A few weeks ago, we took down branches over a track we share and began a wood pile for next year with a layer of oak. Wales to 13th Sept 2014 004This weekend, we’ve been taking down ash which can be burned immediately. Any trees and branches endangering buildings are being removed before they become too big for us to handle and we’ve continued our scheme of coppicing, taking out wood to allow more to grow.

As our land provides for us, we give back. In March, we planted fruit trees, apple, pear, plum and damson. Wales 2014 March 015Ash saplings are sprouting all over the land, especially down on the river bank. Some we’ve left in situ until they grow bigger and some we’ve dug up and moved to the slope at the bottom of our field. We’ve planted willow, given by friends but it’s not taken very well so we’ll try again next year.

Our beech tree, the Queen of the forest, is another tree that needs attention, seen here the day the removal van brought our possessions. summer 2013 and tent pictures 432Great leathery rows of fungus are visible from the roadside at the base of the tree and we are concerned that the roots are being eaten away. We have a neighbour who is a tree specialist so we will be seeking his advice as to the best way to proceed.

We moved to Wales to change our lives and live closer to the earth. Our Land provides for us and we will look after her, removing the decades of rubbish left by previous owners and looking after the trees and replanting. In the future, we hope to plant hedgerow and soft fruit as well as erecting eco camping pods in our field using recycled materials, enabling others to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Welsh countryside. On our land, we see the wood and the trees.



Autumn Equinox…Everything changes


walk in woods SeptFrom Autumn Equinox, 21st September, the sun’s strength diminishes until the Winter Solstice, when the sun grows stronger and the days become longer than the nights. This is the time of year we can look back to the abundance of the harvest and prepare for the coming months.

Since coming to Wales, the changes in the seasons and the weather are more obvious. A neighbour visited yesterday, leading her young horse and we talked about the past few months. While our focus has been Bramble Avenue, digging decades of poo from our cow byre, cutting down dead and damaged trees for firewood and freezing or potting up the produce we’ve grown or been given, the farmers are overwhelmed with an abundance of animal feed. From one cutting of their fields in June, they have twice the silage, more than they would usually get from two cuts. This profusion of lush grass is the product of the sunshine and rain at the right time this year so changeable weather plays a huge part in how the farmers deal with the land and livestock from season to season.

My first ever batch of apple chutney

My first ever batch of apple chutney

The poo heaps...and we're not finished yet!

The poo heaps…and we’re not finished yet!

The riverbank at the end of Bramble Avenue

The riverbank at the end of Bramble Avenue

As I look back at the summer and mourn the loss of the summer sun, the cold winter lays ahead of me so am I ready to change? Can I bring light into a dark situation? Have I the power to change like the seasons?

While waiting for news from Planning and CADW, we’ve done our best to put other plans into action, rather than dwell on a situation we have no control over. The good news is, Planning and CADW have now agreed to issue us with the necessary paperwork to go ahead with our roof…there are conditions but nothing we can’t work around so, we’ve put a call in to the thatcher and we will know tonight when our thatching will commence.

The even better news is, I may have found a society who may give us a small grant towards getting a roof on the byre before the winter so I’ve emailed for an application form. This help will be greatly appreciated as working on the byre was not in the budget for this year…or next but, the storms in February have necessitated a speedy response or we’ll lose the byre completely.

We lost the light from our hillside location at 7.29pm last night and the chill and damp that descended was almost tangible but we’re proficient in producing heat quickly from our two wood burners and the pile of wood in the drying barn is huge, both for this year and next, so we will be warm this winter….especially with a roof!

Since Mike came back from Essex, he is getting more and more work by raising his profile and doing a great job so where one floor was quoted for, they want him back to do another. We’ve both been promoting and I’ve been invited to take part in ‘Making Together’ on 4th October in Lampeter, to talk about my books, sell some and offer the opportunity of workshops to new writers. I’m also dancing with Tribal Unity in Lampeter on 11th October at the ATS® Belly Dance World Wide Flash Mob where dancers from across the world dance to the same music at the same time, Friday 17th October at the Lampeter World of Dance event and teaching a beginners workshop the following day.

Have I the power? I think I have.