About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

So how's it going then, this self-suficiency lark?

I've written one review-of-the-year post that's entirely pictures, so here are some words to go with it. I started to write an end of year review in October, not because I got confused about the dates, but because that was one year after we moved to Wales. That post got very long and boring so I abandoned it. This time I won't try to go through everything and evaluate it all - as the previous post shows, I have done rather a lot of different things this year! I may write a more systematic post about the garden at some point, but this one will just be thoughts and reflections.

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 working or 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 do the 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 things too, 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 food kind 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.

We don't have photos of us just taking a tea break, but here we are at my cousin's wedding last year


  1. You two look so fabulous. And lo! I love that dress. This is such a lovely read and inspirational. It can be done!

  2. Well done and what a great deal you have achieved this year, you should be proud! Love the picture at the end :D xxx

  3. I love reading about your experiments and am really happy to hear that it is all going so well. Fab stuff and ooohhh those hot dogs sound so good ;)

  4. I could have written nearly every word of this, especially:

    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.

    I heart those just-fancy-a-cuddle breaks with both John and our animals :)

  5. Looks like your 'lark' is going just fine. It was very courageous of you to give up what was familiar for this adventure but seems well worth all the effort you put in to gardening and everything else!

    I love the really like the colours in your dress and love forward to seeing more of your crafty side when you've time.

    Thanks for giving the inspiration to go on making things (still got to get back to the knooks, ha ha), if not growing things: I have a black thumb and even if that wasn't so, the Giant African Snails would pilfer anything left standing...

    Cheers for now, Rachel. :)


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