When I resigned from my job to start this new adventure in Wales I decided to give it a year and judge at the end of that year whether things were working or not. I didn't have any clear idea of what criteria I'd use to decide whether things were
workingor not, which wasn't terribly bright of me...
I guess money was a big part of it. Giving up my income and part of Ian's was very scary, so I was worried about whether we'd be able to make ends meet. Well... we can. Money's tight, but we get by, so that's OK.
A more nebulous concern was whether I'd be able to
dothe self-sufficiency stuff. This led to quite a bit of anxiety about the garden in June, which I worked through with the help of blogging friends. I feel a lot more relaxed about the garden now. I might not be saying that if a storm had wiped out the whole lot, but it didn't, and some things were very successful (potatoes and peas), others weren't (squash and tomatoes) and there were some things I just didn't plant enough of (parsnips. I ate the last of the parsnips this evening. I love parsnips and now they're all gone! *sniffle*).
As well as growing things, there's been a lot of
making thingstoo, not least in the kitchen. I've found that cooking on a very low budget requires a lot more time and attention than using ready-prepared ingredients (and I'm talking things like pizza bases and chips, not ready meals) so I spend a lot of my time thinking about food. That's stating the obvious, I know, but I had to live it to really appreciate that fact.
We eat simply (determined as much by Ian's preference as by budget) but oh so well. You know sometimes you have bread that's so fresh it doesn't need anything else with it, except maybe butter? Well we have that every third day. A lot of our veg has been picked less than an hour before we eat it (peas and beans in the summer, cabbage and leeks now), and hotdogs made by wrapping dough round the sausages before baking are about as far from the
convenience foodkind as you can imagine. Come to think of it, quite a lot of things I've learnt to cook this year are convenience foods; chips, burger buns (I've always made burgers from scratch - just squish mince into shape), hotdogs, ketchup, and of course, baked beans (I haven't given up on those yet...)
There are other improvements to our quality of life as well. We spend a lot more time outdoors and gardening is good exercise. I found that I stopped comfort eating when we moved here. I didn't even know I was doing it before, but every evening I'd get in from work and sit down with a drink and a bag of crisps. I don't feel the need to do that any more, and I lost a lot of weight in the first few months. We're both a lot healthier and fitter than we were in our old life.
There's a lot more flexibility in this lifestyle. I always have a fairly long to-do list but scheduling is up to me. We can take time off when the sun happens to be shining, not just on days beginning with 'S'. And at this time of year, we particularly appreciate not having to get up before sunrise.
Something we never anticipated being so good so quickly is the sense of community. Some of this is here, online. I've met some great people here in blogland and on the 'Ish forum and feel I've made some real friends, even though I've never met you in
real life. The internet is a wonderful invention! But I do venture out into the real world occasionally, and we've found the locals here to be very welcoming. We've made some really good friends already, which makes me feel incredibly lucky. This is not something you could possibly plan for. Some neighbours turn out to be horrible and make your life a misery, and some are lovely and you want to invite them all over for tea, which is exactly what I did one day last week, and a very pleasant little party it was too.
The best thing about this new life, though, is that I get to spend a lot more time with my husband. The working day is mostly spent doing our own things, but every lunchtime, every tea break, every I-just-fancy-a-cuddle-right-now break is spent together.