Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Feels like home
So tomorrow is a hump day. In our corner of this great big planet we will finally have as many hours of daylight as of sun down. According to the BBC Weather app, tomorrow we will have twelve hours and one minute of daylight. Like so many people, I struggle with the dark of the winter months and each year from mid-August onwards, slip quietly into depression without really realising it. Some years are worse than others and thankfully this year hasn't been too bad, but I suspect that's because I have been on a new medication for my thyroid which has had a positive impact on my mood and I've had a fairly major project to keep me focussed on things other than how low I feel. And because, all in all, the weather has been pretty mild (if you exclude the frantic storms that have battered us this autumn and winter) which means that I have been able to get outside in the fresh air and wintery sunlight more than other years. But rather than focus on the negative impact of winter, I want to celebrate just how much Mr J and I have achieved in the four months since we bought our new home.
When we got the keys, we took about three weeks to move our belongings across the Severn Bridge from our previous house to what we plan to be our last home. I should rephrase that really to, for Mr J to move our things here because at that point I was still very unwell and a week before we moved I was still bed-bound and wondering if we were indeed doing the right thing by moving to a smallholding when I was in so much pain that I couldn't see straight and could hardly walk unaided. But we did and I am so pleased that we did.
We have now almost finished unpacking, at least our most basic personal belongings, I'm still finding the occasional bag that has been tucked away without being unpacked. Inside the house we've draft proofed, fixed and tweaked the house so it suits our way of living. The house had been fully renovated over the last few years by the previous owners, so fortunately we had nothing structural to do. We've found additional kitchen units being given away and created a kitchen island to house my cooking utensils and those kitchen units have also been used to create additional storage in the boot room, to hold all those bit and pieces that otherwise just end up sitting around somewhere. We've made the house look like the way we feel about it, it's our cosy sanctuary and although we have fairly differing tastes in internal décor, we have found a style that works for both of us.
Outside the house has seen more changes than inside. We've moved plants from the back garden and the area at the back of the boot room and used them to plant a shrubbery, glazed the greenhouse, started converting the stables into a chicken condo, built large compost bins, divided the paddock into animal and productive garden areas, laid pathways and started to create raised beds. We've planted trees and native shrubs. A hedge has been planted around the paddock and a herbaceous border created. Both of these projects were done with the help of my friend Jane, who is a brilliant gardener and has tons of energy and enthusiasm, we laugh a lot together and Jane keeps going when I have run out of energy.
We've lost Archie, our beloved cat, who we haven't felt ready to replace and gained a bunch of chickens and a pair of ducks. While the birds hold great entertainment value and are starting to earn their keep, they aren't as cuddly or soft as a cat and they don't keep our toes warm at night!
Now if we were twenty years younger, no doubt masses more would have been done already, but we are where we are and I am so proud to have achieved this much in so little time. There are still plenty of days where I am unable to get off the sofa or out of a chair and have to just sit and let the pain do its thing until it passes. There are days when I start out well but by mid-morning I am hobbling around using a walking stick and every day I am worn out by mid-afternoon and have to slow down, take a few hours break or just stop for the day. So anything and everything I do feels like an amazing achievement. Ironically, being unwell has given me a fresh perspective of how fortunate I am.
For a couple of mid-lifers who've spent most of their working days in offices, we are starting to get into the rhythm of working with the day, the weather, the animals and the soil. We have created a place that we are proud to call home, filled with laughter and love. And that's really a rather nice place to be!