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The Big Move

Well, here we are, three months on!

As some of you will be aware, we moved to Wales in October 2016. It was primarily as a result of both Jan and I retiring from our full time jobs and not needing to live in an urban environment any more, after looking around, Wales seemed to offer an attractive proposition to settle in a rural idyll. We had discussed that it would be a lifestyle change, but retirement was going to be that anyway. Jan had lost her mother in the March of 2016, I retired in April 2016 and Jan retired in October 2016, so happy days were on the cards; however, we were becoming more intolerant of all of the traffic in the area, so why would we stay in an ever increasing urban sprawl when our hearts were in the countryside.

In some ways, it was an easy decision, but in others, not so. We would be leaving behind a lifestyle we had worked on and developed over the last 10 years living in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire. We were leaving friends, all of those networks we had, our lovely house, my allotments and our cheese courses behind and moving to an area where we knew no one; we didn't even know what amenities there were in the area. The only thing we were sure of was that both the house we had purchased and the area we were moving to were beautiful.

So I find myself writing this blog, 3 months from the day we moved. It's been a busy three months, in fact, today, we have the first snows of winter and that's why I've found the time to sit down and write this, otherwise I would be doing something else.

Work in Progress:

As I said, its been a busy three months, whoever stated "they had not stopped since they retired", was telling the truth, its been the same for us.

Moving house is supposed to be stressful, having moved several times, we were prepared for that, however, all of the hassle with the legal brigade, removal firms etc. paled into insignificance when two days before our move, almost 400 miles away, my mother died after a short illness. This meant, for us, October involved sorting out our removals in between doing the round trip to visit my ill mother in Hospital, then arranging the funeral as well as trying to settle into our new home, applying for probate, putting her house on the market and then clearing the house.

Day one was organise a fuel oil delivery and getting the boiler serviced along with unpacking; it was so cold that we actually booked into the local Pub for B&B for the first night; the house had not been lived in for two years, so the first week the central heating was on 24/7 until the place warmed up and dried out. We had to organise a new double bed pretty quickly as one of Jan's brothers and his wife were visiting the second weekend of our move. We purchased another sideboard for the dining room so that we could further unpack some of our boxes, there were curtains to put up etc. etc. Still, by the end of the first week, we could look around and say we were exhausted but more or less settled and tidy.

One of the major things that happened at the end of the first week was the local farmer came and cut down a vast swathe of our overgrown hedge; this served to improve our view and announce to all of the local people that we had arrived (Fig 1). I spent the next week cutting the hedge back further and reclaiming a full 3 foot or one Meter of land Fig 2).

Because the weather was dry, I then took 3 days to mow the lawn, taking gradual cuts and dumping the grass at the bottom of the garden (more about that later).

We purchased a bird feeding station in the second week, this has been a constant source of entertainment and fascination for us; we have an aviary of birds ranging from Starlings, Blackbirds, Nut Hatches, Tits, Finches, Pied Wag Tails, Robins, Hedge Sparrows and Wrens, along with a Woodpecker and the inevitable Magpie or two; we even had a Pheasant visit for a couple of days during Christmas (Fig 3). The stream provides a habitat for Dippers, Ducks and a Kingfisher (along with Trout and Salmon). That's without the Red Kites and Buzzards that abound in the skies of the adjacent fields and woodland. I've even seen what looked like a Pine Marten (perhaps Mink), and it's been so mild I've seen a couple of Hedgehogs, Squirrels and I'm pretty sure we have a Water Vole on the banks of the stream.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3

 

Having a stream running along one of our boundaries (Fig 4,5&6), I of course had to go into the water to tidy up the banks (that was my excuse). This led to both a salutatory lesson for me and a scene from what could have been a comedy sketch – you guessed it, I fell over into a deep part of the stream and I found myself climbing out with Wellington boots full of water; this necessitated my emptying out the said Wellies in a farcical way (no fish sadly). Thankfully no one witnessed it happening, I now have a pair of very impressive waders.

Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6

 

During this time and running up to Christmas we had to go north to arrange my mothers estate, however, we made the decision that we would be spending our first Christmas at home not on the roads, therefore we purchased two new Christmas trees, set up one in the front room and one in the dinning room fully decorated of course (Fig 7&8). Sadly our Log burner has not yet been fitted, but we have an open fire in our front room, therefore, two days before Christmas, I unblocked the chimney and we've had an open fire ever since, it's so welcoming and cosy.

Figure 7 Figure 8

 

During this first three months, the weather has been so kind to us, hence all of the gardening we have managed to do. Sometimes its been a little cold, however, we've had very little rain or snow, this has enabled me to arrange for a large shed to be constructed, also I've managed to lay out my Vegetable garden, I've even managed to set some Shallots and Garlic, this is, of course, still work in progress (Fig9&10), I have yet to erect a Greenhouse.

Figure 9 Figure 10

 

During the three months period, we have had the two Patios extended (Fig 11,12,13,&14), also we have put in a new Laurel Hedge and gate (Fig 15) this creates a divide between the drive and the first patio.

Figure 11 Figure 12 Figure 13 Figure 14

 

As part of my plan to start keeping Bees again, I started clearing the bottom part of the garden; this area had obviously been a dumping ground for years. Imagine my surprise when I discovered, what I had regarded as a massive mound of rubbish was in fact Leaf-mould and compost. It's about one foot deep and cuts like Peat (Fig 16), fantastic for the veg plot, I'm mixing it with rotted Manure from a local stable and spreading it on what is dreadful clay soil.

A couple of days ago we started clearing the lower part of the stream bank, down to the footbridge and Wear, its beginning to come to life now, with spring bulbs showing (Fig 17).

Figure 15 Figure 16 Figure 17

 

At the time of finishing this blog, we have two men working on revamping our bathroom, it's looking good, they are then moving on to our en-suite, we should then be ready to accept visitors again.

So far, I've not mentioned the local community, they have been fantastic, so friendly and welcoming. We have met lots of people now, they comment on how lovely it is to have people back in the house again, they are happy to stop for a chat or greet us if we are out for a walk; they are so helpful too, they provide lots of advice on local services, tradesmen etc. and offer help if needed. Jan has joined the local WI and we have lots of social events to look forward to.

One more thing I have to mention, I did something before Christmas I always said I would never do, I applied for a senior citizen bus pass, not for the bus but the train service. About ½ mile down the road from us there's a railway station and our bus pass gets us free train journeys on the central Wales line too. We did the train journey to Shrewsbury to do our Christmas shopping, it was free and the views were marvellous.

That's it for now, can't wait for spring, the birds are already heralding it, so it shouldn't be too far away. Catch up soon.

Garden Update

So far, 2016 has been an out of the ordinary year for us, with even more still to come.

After spending the first 4 months of the year looking forward to retirement, part of which was because I hoped that retirement would allow extra time for my allotments, I found that wet weather early in the year delayed my best efforts to get an early start; however, eventually the yearned for day arrived and I was a "pensioner".

Before retirement, the weather didn't play ball, so I had been snatching time in the garden when I could; still eventually, better late than never, I managed to get the bulk of the gardens planted before we went on holiday in June (see Travels in Italy 2016).

Read more: Garden Update

Retirement

I finally made it to retirement and, as the saying goes, "If I'd known I was going to live this long I'd have looked after myself better", but here I am, I've made it. Time to put the feet up, do only what I want to and when I want to – in fact, that's what it said on the engraved tankard the staff gave me when I left work, or words to that effect; if only it were true.

Sure, I don't have to get up and go to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week but to be honest, I don't know how I managed to fit work in; it feels as if I never stop. People always asked if I would get bored when I retired and I used to say "no, work gets in the way of my life", little did I know how true that was.

Read more: Retirement

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