Saturday 30 March 2019

Happy News

I've held back on telling you any specific news about Ethel, even though a few of you have kindly asked about her welfare.  I guess in a way I was scared of jinxing things.

But now as you can see from these photos ... sorry they are blurry, Alan is no photographer or blogger ... she has a lovely little companion.  And not just any companion ... her daughter.

Ethel left our land at the end of November to over-Winter with Will's flock and to spend some time with the tup  (randy boy sheep).  She did the same the previous year but failed to get in lamb then.  This time she successfully got pregnant and on scanning it showed she was having one lamb.

As Will is an excellent shepherd it was decided she would remain with his flock in case of a difficult labour due to her dodgy old hip.  But there were no problems and no complications, and a few days ago she successfully gave birth to her daughter.

Now she will have company of her own kind, her own family all year round ... and not just the company of her feathery friends

Ethel and daughter Jasmine in the blossom filled orchard back on our land. 


For Ethel's back story nip over HERE and HERE

Sue xx

Friday 29 March 2019

Breaking the Rules

There are glimpses of better weather on the horizon, hopefully more prolonged better weather.  The sun comes out regularly and clear blue skies hint at better times ahead.  If you stand in the right place, tilt your face in the right direction and close your eyes ... you can almost imagine it's a warm Spring morning as the warmth intensifies and seeps through to your bones.

And it's tempted me into being a rule breaker!!

We're not supposed to have washing lines outside the vans.  We are allowed those racks that hang out of the caravan windows, you know the ones I mean ... you see them festooned with drying towels and swimwear ... but I've not got one of those yet.  Instead I've strung a low piece of clothes line between the wood that holds the guttering on the shed and then tied the other end around the top rail of the decking.  

It works wonderfully well.

It feels a bit like clandestine clothes drying.

  As long as can get away with it I will, but I won't push my luck by hanging out rows of giant greying knickers and bras.  If I get challenged ... and I might as we are in the line of vision of the CCTV camera that guards the bin area, which is great for my security but not so great for little rule breaker me ... I will apologise profusely and invest immediately in the right bit of kit.

But I do love a line of washing drying naturally in a sunny breeze  ♥️

Sue xx

Thursday 28 March 2019

Wallowing, Flaking and Daffodils

Sorry ... I've been missing all week.  

There's been little action, just lots of wallowing in my own misery.  We both came down with a stinking cold virus last weekend that all the gloriously happy daffodils in the world could not hope to cheer up.

It's been good to be apart all week, each drowning in the misery of running noses, flaking skin, razor blade sliced throats, hacking coughs that make your ribs hurt and an awful nausea that has lingered and lingered.  I'm a crabby cow when I'm ill.  

I don't do 'ill' very well at all

 We went to the little local garden centre to pick up some compost, bark chips and grass seed before Alan left for home on Sunday.   I remember it well .... it was the last time I felt human 🙃

I've spent far too much time this week watching YouTube ... I know it's been far too much time as I've almost used up the extra data allowance that I purchased at the start of the week ... but there's been little energy for much else.  I bet I know far more about 'Dumpster Diving' by now than the average Brit. 

Suky has had a couple of walks each day, and yes the fresh riverbank air did help as long as I was well wrapped up against the cold winds.  But I've been avoiding as much contact with folk as possible, partly not wanting to share the 'lurgy' and partly because when your nose is flaking like it has a bad case of dandruff and it's redder than any Comic Relief red nose you don't want to stop and make small talk.

I took these photos this morning so I must be on the mend.  Blogging mojo coming back ... yay 😀

I have to brave and venture out now, I need a BIG pan.  Time to slather my nose in any available moisturising cream and go face the world.

Sue xx

Monday 25 March 2019

Welcome to the Smaller Garden

 Welcome to my Smaller Garden.

I think it's time I took you all on a guided tour. 

If we go down from the deck to the lefthand side, as you step out of the Van door, we come face to face with the shed ... and my newest little acquisition, it's an early birthday present from Alan ... a little tin bath.

It was much cheaper ... and more environmentally friendly ... to get a vintage one rather than a modern reproduction from a garden centre.  It's less than half the size of the one I have full of herbs back in Wales and it will soon to be my little veggie growing bath. 🙂

It has had some holes made in the bottom for drainage and a good layer of stones.

On the other side of the shed doors is Alan's chimnea.   Hopefully we'll get to use it this year if we have some Summer nights that we can sit out on.

 Then to the right we have the main flower/shrub/herb growing area.

It's looking a bit sparse at the moment but we tidied it up over the weekend and there are lots of signs of life.  I'll add some more herbs to replace the ones that died off over Winter and maybe a few veggies too.

You'll notice few little brown planters dotted along the tall trellis, they all contain climbing plants.  A selection of Ivy, Clematis and Wisteria, these are all just starting to spring back to life  ♥️

The planters have had the bottoms removed so that the plants can send their roots deep down into the soil.

If we turn to the right there is the big bowl of Chives happily springing into life after lying dormant all Winter.  I love the way Chives vanish at the end of Autumn and then come back stronger and more vigorous than ever each year.

Then we have the oak bench that Alan made from a pair of vintage bench ends and some lengths of oak.  He is going to give it a fresh coat of stain next week if the weather is good enough to do it.

Turning slightly you can see the green painted planters that hold up the little trellis fence.  Alan made them out of offcuts from the workshop cladding wood, and I lined them with empty compost bags to give them a longer life.

 They are filled with Winter Pansies, more Ivy,  kale, spinach and spring onions at the moment and do a good job of helping to divide the garden area ... making it safe for the dogs to play out ... and the parking area.  As well as giving me a bit more growing space.  

Turning again we are back to the steps.  

The space underneath the decking is paved, and as the skirting goes right along the bottom of the caravan, although the dogs can go under the decking area to take advantage of shade they can't get under the van.  It's also a useful storage area for Alan's electric lawnmower ... I went old-school and bought a little push one that I love  😁

Up the steps and onto the decking we have just got our two chairs and the little table out of the shed and put them in place on the re-instated Astro-turf.  We got them reduced at B&Q at the end if Summer last year as one of the chairs had lost one of it's little feet, so I just took all the feet off the table, put one of them onto the chair and put our three 'spares' in the shed in case we need another replacement. 

 It makes a good sitting out place for a read and a coffee as the decking is a nice little sun trap although the Summer.

With the front gate closed the dogs can safely watch the world go by and bark at passing dogs to theirs heart content.

That's it folks ... a complete guided tour of my new Smaller outdoor space.  To give you a sense of perspective I would guess the garden area is about 14ft square and the parking space and the decking area the same width but a bit longer.

Sue xx

Saturday 23 March 2019

Tigger or Eeyore

Or perhaps you don't have to decide

Where Tigger bounces and is at times infuriatingly upbeat

 Eeyore plods and expects the worst of everything

But perhaps sometimes we can have an Eeyore day 

... and then have a Tigger day

Sue xx

Thursday 21 March 2019

And now you don't have to be perfect ...

What can I say after yesterdays wonderful selection of comments, thank you doesn't seem enough ... but thank you  💖

I'm hoping you all enjoyed learning about each other, as much as I did learning about you.  I guess there's lots of questions that could be asked but yesterdays were good at getting us all sharing, and for bringing those of you that will now forever be known as 'the lovely worms' out of the dark corners of lurker-dom.

It was lovely to meet all of you.

I think we are all of an age when we have realised that we don't have to be perfect to the world to be perfect for ourselves and those that we love.  And if they don't see our imperfect perfection as something to celebrate then we will simply shrug and grin.  Each to their own and all that.

This is a quick post as I am about to load up the car, pile in the dogs and hit the road.  A Smaller Life is calling me back after a week of Welsh-dom ... and a wet week at that.  It was nice to be here and wonder about things a bit more.  But I know in my heart it's nicer to be heading back.

So while I munch on a egg butty and swig from my big mug of coffee, I will reply to the last few of yesterdays comments.  And thank you again, you are very appreciated.

Sue xx

Wednesday 20 March 2019

It's all about the numbers ...

After the comments of the last few days I thought it might be interesting to find out the ages of my readers, especially the lovely ones who comment most days.

We seem to be on the same wavelength in lots of things.  I know that's usually the case when you find a blog that you like to read, but what I write about me really seems to be resonating with so many of you a lot of the time.

So I thought it was time for a little survey.

Lets start with me:

Here goes ...

I am 58 ... so yes, an experienced idiot  😉 

In almost exactly one month I will be 59.

So I am born under the star sign of Aries, and from what I read I fit the bill perfectly.

Using the Chinese calendar as well I am an Aries Rat ... and I seem to fit that bill too!

Writing that always reminds me of a great guy called John that I met on Yahoo Personals.  His bio was worded ' Pisces Monkey seeks Aries Rat'.  I responded ... well you would wouldn't you!! 

 I met him wearing all black, he was also wearing all black. it broke the ice and got us chatting.  The first date we got on like a house on fire, he told me all about the astrological calendar and the Chinese horoscopes and years.  The second date was not so good ... he told me all about the astrological calendar and the Chinese horoscopes and years.  

There was no third date!!

I am one year younger than Alan, my husband.

I was almost 5 years younger than my ex husband.

The biggest age gap I have had in a relationship was 17 years, the smallest was 6 months younger than me ... I ended it when the 'toyboy' jokes from him got too much!

Yes, I agree with this entirely.

You are as young as you feel.

And so, in my opinion, you really should live your life and forget your age.  

So ... how old are you?

What is your star sign?

Do you believe in star signs ... I marvel at the accuracy sometimes but I take it all with a pinch of salt.

What is the gap between you and your beloved?

But remember ...

... you don't have to tell .

Sue xx

Tuesday 19 March 2019

A Little Trip Down Memory Lane

Just a little glimpse into the past.  

A photo of me and my little brother Graham with Aunty Ida and Uncle Harold.  It was their caravan and the time spent with them, that I think started my lifelong desire to live a Smaller life ... and eventually in the same place.

I was four when my brother was born and to give my parents a rest from their headstrong and tomboyish little girl, Ida and Harold would take me, along with my Nana, to their caravan most weekends.  I was a self-sufficient little girl and would play happily on my own while the 'grown-ups' did whatever it was they did ... knit, read newspapers and make sandwiches most days if I remember correctly.  Some days though, we would drive to the coast and sit in the car opposite the sea, eat the sandwiches, drink lukewarm tea from the flask, marvel at the wind, the rain or the waves crashing on the beach ... and then drive back to the caravan.  That bit always baffled me ... why didn't we get out and run along the beach getting wet and having fun?  

Oh well, that's the only time the age divide was ever a problem!

Back at the caravan park I had a best friend in the little boy that also came to stay most weekends with his granny who owned the caravan directly opposite.  Me and Nigel would befriend the newer children on their once a year holidays and show them the ropes, the best places to play and the adventures that unsupervised children could get up to.  We felt like 'old-timers' that knew everything and all the best secret hideouts.

As well as my weekends away, I came to the caravan park for a family holiday each year.  A two-week break that we looked forward to, even in the days of no television, crackly radio and rain, usually rain.  Well me and Graham looked forward to the holiday.  How my Mum felt about this regular break, confined to a small van with two young children for two rainy weeks I have only realised in recent years.

Emptying our piggy banks (a batman bank in Grahams case) in anticipation of the money we had saved week in week out from our pocket money ... 1s 3d pocket money in my case, the 3d always going to the 'holiday fund' the rest being frittered away on Beano's, Dandy's, Bunty's and penny sweets ... being used to buy ice-creams, sticks of rock and a gift to treat ourselves to while we were away.  

There were family walks in the evenings, usually to feed a horse called Fred.  

All the horses were called Fred by my parents in those days, whether they actually were or not I have no idea.  Also, some years Fred changed colour and was brown ... we didn't question the obvious!!

There were days out to the local agricultural show which usually coincided with our annual holiday. 

 I don't know why there are so many photos of us with horses ... maybe that's what put me off horses for life ... being made to feed, stroke and be brave around these huge animals for the photo opportunity it gave my Dad  :-)

And then there were the 'hikes'.  Long, long walks wearing 'pac a macs' and rain-hoods against the persistent rain.   Dad usually saying we were lost and would never find our way back ... was that ever the case, we never knew ... but always feared the worst.  And just as the sweat on the inside of our plastic body coverings made us as wet as the rain on the outside would have done, out would come the sunshine, a safe place to sit would be found and a picnic would materialise.

There's a comedy show somewhere in this little tale!!

Talking of Dad ... please look at my Dad in this photo and not my knobbly knees, I shouldn't have mentioned the knees should I, now you've looked twice as hard!!

Mum will kill me for this bit.

Here she is sat on the edge of Greenhalgh Castle, when you used to be able to go right up the footpath to see it and explore.  You can almost read her thoughts ... why am I here?  

Why am I trapped in a tiny four berth caravan for two weeks every Summer with two bloody annoying children? 

Why is there no heating in the van, no electricity, no television, no running water, no toilet? 

 Why is Syd taking so long to get this bloody photo of me?  

When can I get down off this bloody rock?

Here we all are peeking out of the ruins of the castle.

They were good holidays from a child's point of view and lead to other more 'upmarket' holidays at Pontins as my parents finances improved and we got older.  But it was these holidays and the weekends ... the weekends of freedom from doing anything but appearing for meals and bedtime ... that have always stayed with me, and perhaps nurtured the need for a smaller and simpler life that has been held in check for far too long.

And if you haven't already guessed, the  header photo of the gate leading to the field, leading to a Smaller and Simpler life ... also leads to Greenhalgh Castle.

Sue xx

Monday 18 March 2019


I'm honestly starting to think this is me

More and more

I relish my own company

Revel in any alone time that I can grab

A question

A phone call

An instruction

They all take me away from my time

I need to shop

But I am putting it off

For as long as I possibly can

I can use up what we have here

... But my meals are getting random

And fun

I need to get back to my Smaller life

This one

Is not for me

Sunday 17 March 2019

Tales from Wales

This blog is not really about my life inWales ... but I thought I'd make a little exception every now and then when there was news to share or questions to answer.  So I have added a new 'label' on the posts ... 'Tales from Wales' and I will use it for little news bulletins 'from home'.

A lot of folks have been in touch to ask if we are okay after seeing Llanrwst on the national news last night and on the weather reports.  

Yes we are okay ... thank you for asking and for caring 💗

The flood waters built up over the course of yesterday and we were both on 'sheep watch' for the farmer who has his sheep in the field opposite our house.  Alan had phoned him only the day before as a one-day-old lamb had gotten stuck in the hedge and when Alan went over in response to its pathetic little bleats to free it from the brambles, the mother sheep would not accept it back along with its twin.  So Thomas came took both mother and her twin lambs back to his farm for more bonding time.

Yesterday he phoned us for regular updates on the flood situation and by late afternoon it was decided that the water was suddenly rising much faster and it made sense to move the sheep before dark.  It was a wise decision, as suddenly with the high tide the water rushed through from both the river and from the next flooded field breaching all defences.

A quick discussion over the wall and then Thomas drove his Landrover back to the gate of his field and let the sheep out.  They walked along the road remarkably calmly, even the other mother sheep with her twin lambs, all sensing no doubt that they must be headed to safety.  It's nice to see sheep that trust their shepherd.

They got out in the nick of time as an hour later the water was right up to the roadside hedge and they would have been stranded in the dark.

There was no traffic on the road, except a broken down car being helped by another good Samaritan, as it had just been closed due to the flooding around the next bend to us.  Thomas had gotten through just in time.

This morning it is as though nature is taunting us with her power, saying ' look what I did to you but look how nice I can be if I want to'.  The water in the fields is almost as high but starting to recede slowly, the sun is shining and the sheep are safe and happy in our paddock.

I don't know if you can make it out in this photo but Alan was walking the dogs around the paddock as usual, to both check the sheep and start them all getting used to each other.

The sun is shining and the drains are slowly beginning to take the water off the road.

 Once again we are extremely grateful that we live on the high side of the road and although our house let water in all day yesterday at least our feet and our possessions stayed dry.

Sunshine and a flooded field.

The campsite in the distance to the right of this shot, our neighbours Steve and Naomi are now in the process of their third clear up in ten years.  I don't know how they do it but they bounce back time after time.  They were busy rescuing their chickens at the same time as Alan and Thomas were rescuing sheep.

The River Conwy at full flow, filling up one of our favourite tearooms Tu Hwnt i'r Bont in Llanrwst yesterday afternoon.

It was not a good day here in Wales yesterday.

Sue xx

Saturday 16 March 2019

Taking it Right Back to Basics ... in my own time

I've had a few days away from the blog.  It's actually only a couple of days, but it feels like forever.
There's been lots of thinking going on, and lots and lots of bad weather.  

I'm back in Wales at the moment ... and not loving this leaky as a sieve house with all the washing piled on window sills catching the persistent plop, plop, plop of rainwater as it cascades through the lintels, instead of tootling round in the washing machine where it is supposed to be.  When the drips slow down enough to remove the bedding from the sills and have merely the jugs in appropriate places it will be washed and put into a bag ready for taking back to my leak-free home in Lancashire.

I love the meme above.  

I want to slow things down.  I want to slow things down so much that even someone saying 'but what do you do with yourself all day' drives me nuts.  I do things, I move from task to task in a considered and thoughtful way.  I don't rush from pillar to post to achieve things in some man-made or self imposed time frame.  I get things done that need to be done ... and then that's it they are done.

And yes, that is invigorating!!

I need to take things back to basics.

I love this photo, these photos.

They were taken in the Weald and Downland Museum when we were there a couple of years ago.  This is the pace of life and the simplicity of life that I want, that I crave.

I'm not silly ... I know life was tough in those days, no central heating for them, no en-suite bathroom for middle of the night forays to the toilet.  No, instead there was a pot under the bed or a cold and perhaps wet trip to the outhouse. 

Perhaps I want the best of both worlds ... or all worlds.

I want minimal, but beautiful and useful possessions.  I want to have everything I need, and nothing that jars.  You know what I mean ... the thing that sits in the wrong place for the wrong reason.  Sometimes we don't even realise we have them as we pick up and dust an area week in week out.

I need to step back on a regular basis at the moment, carefully and gradually whittling away at what I have.  Adding the things that I do need and removing with consideration those that I don't.

I don't have collections as such.  I used too many moons ago collect owls.  Then every Christmas, holiday, birthday and excuse, would see me being given owls.  My collection got bitty and very to be polite diverse!!  I sold all the owls at a car boot sale many years ago, I was the talking point of the small car boot 'the lady with the owls', but all the owls went ... no doubt to people who loved to dust.

So no collections for me.

I do have lots of books, lots of Dvds ... and at the moment it seems to me lots of clothes.  Some of these areas will be worked on, only the best will remain.  I don't need lots of anything.  

To quote William Henry Channing I want:

To live content with small means;
 to seek elegance rather than luxury;
 to be worthy, not respectable: 
to be wealthy, not rich.

It's something worth working on ... in my own time.

Sue xx