Friday, 29 January 2016

Seven Years of Blogging




Make yourself a drink and pull up your chair this is a long one ...... because today is this blogs anniversary, seven years of posts.  Seven years of ups and downs but best of all seven years of sharing our lives with you .... our blogging buddies, friends, followers and readers.


In October of 2008 when we first placed this advert in the Farmers Guardian newspaper ... we had no idea of the adventure we were starting on.

Resourceful sea-dog (Engineer) and hard working city chick (Retail Manager) (Married) wishing a radical life style change, seek 3 bed property with space to live the ‘good life’ (veggies and chickens), ideally in a rural setting or on a farm in the Oxford, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hampshire area. 

Willing to upgrade and refurb property in return for a realistic rent. Contact the old sea-dog (Alan) on -----------
or e-mail -----------


This blog that has charted virtually our every move, escapade and family event since then, has been the backbone of all that we have done.  Keeping us accountable and being a permanent record of our wonderful adventure.


 Expecting this search to take six months at the very least we were shocked to be contacted within days of the advert going out and offered the chance to rent a farm, complete with it's own farmhouse, barn, derelict orchard and six acre paddock. We spent the next two months closing down my sweet little lavender shop, handing the notice in on our rented house, saying goodbye to family and friends and generally just packing up our lives. Over Christmas of 2008 we moved in and a month later this blog was born.  Each year has had a subtitle and 2009's was 'From Townies to Country Folk' as the pair of us swapped smart clothes and shiny shoes for mud splattered jeans and big comfy wellies ... 


...and kitted ourselves and the farm out with what we thought we needed.  


2010 was the year of 'Pigs and Chickens' and our initial flock of ten rescued free range White Stars was added to over the course of the year.  The pigs came in small and grew and grew, providing us with meat, piglets, a small income and lots of entertainment and hard work.


2011 was 'Our Year of Living Simply' and we knuckled down to building on all we had learnt.  Reining in the spending and learning to live as simply as we could.  Growing, storing and preserving our own food, reusing, recycling and mending what we had.


But we showed our soft side when we re-homed another big batch of rescue birds, doubling our flock of the time to over 50 birds.  As our three year lease was coming to an end we sat and discussed the future, did we want to go for this lifestyle full time or revert to our townie lives.

We decided to not just carry on but to invest in our own future and buy our own land.  No matter how much we loved the area we lived in we knew we couldn't afford to buy in Oxfordshire, but we knew we had to grow our savings as quickly as we could, so we ended the lease on our lovely farm and looked for somewhere over the border in Berkshire, near to Lovely Hubby's work to rent while we saved.


  So 2012 was the year we went further, with the subtitle 'From Simple to Frugal - and Beyond'

We found  a ramshackle little bungalow in it's last years of life, waiting to be demolished to make room for the owners to build their dream home.  In the meantime they were heading overseas and needed someone to rent their property ...


... and look after their cat.


The pigs were gone due to family circumstances, and we were not allowed to have any on the land we rented, so we decided to downsize and buckle down and save.  So it was just us the dogs, the cats, and the chickens ... and then we went to a farm sale and fell in love with a Hyline hen and her three fluffy babies.  The geese had arrived.


Harry, Larry and Mo .... the three Chinese Grey geese replaced the pigs in our affections and made wonderful 'guard dogs' keeping our chickens safe from predators and making us laugh with their antics.


It turned out that we had two girls and one gander.  Harry swiftly decided that I was the love of his life and whenever I was in Chicken World would follow me round fawning at my feet demanding cuddles and attention.  


Then it was 2013 and we decided it was to be our 'Year of Less'.  Our little two bedroom bungalow seemed overcrowded with the contents of our four bedroom farmhouse shoehorned in, even though we had sorted out and moved with less ...so we started to declutter.  We car booted, we donated, we gave away and if all that failed we threw away.  The surfaces became clear and the bank account grew.  We worked hard, saved hard and started to dream.  We started to look for our own place ... 


and we found it.

I teased you all with a snippet of a photo while the final details were sorted out by solicitors and then it was ours on 13th September 2013.  Our forever home.  We commuted weekly and started the decorating and preparing the house, and moved in for good on 21 December...


... and on 31st Mavis joined us.


The year of 2014 was our 'Back to Basics' year and  saw us starting the long but rewarding task of setting up our smallholding, we are too small to be a farm, with around 5 acres so this is how we think of ourselves.  We (this is of course being the Royal we) dug out the hillside to mark out the bare bones of the Veggie Patch, and I learnt how different it was to grow on the poor soil of this Welsh hillside compared to the soft growing conditions of Southern England.


We also found out the difference in the temperatures and kept our log burner in action much more regularly to keep the house warm.


Then 2015 was with us and the year of 'Needs Not Wants'.  We kept our spending in the house to the minimum and gritted our teeth and invested in the infrastructure of our future.  The polytunnel was up and I could once again get down to the serious job of growing our own food ....


... while I tried to ignore what was going on nearer the house!!

A full year of building, mess, muck and chaos, I never want to live through that again.  Now of course I think that it as worth it, but at the time I hated every single minute.  But it means that we now have garage space, workshop space and most importantly a safer and more usable access and exit to the property.  

Beneath all this we put in water drains to make our land and the road beyond it safer.  We put in a water harvesting system to catch the deluge of rainwater that falls in this Welsh valley which will cut our future water bills.  Above the garage and workshop we put a huge bank of solar panels to capture the energy of the daylight and this means we are self sufficient in electricity and it will also earn us an income during the longer, lighter days of Summer.


And now we are here 2016 and 'A Year Without ...', a year that we are using as our practice year to see how self-sufficient we can be ready for next year when Lovely Hubby makes the final leap and gives up the day job.  It's been a long time in the planning and you our lovely band of regular and newer readers have been on the journey with us, some of you since the very beginning.  

Some of you have taken the massive step of reading back, seven full years of blog posts charting our successes, our failures, our experiments, our triumphs and our sad times and I guess for you they are fresher in your minds at the moment, than they currently are in mine.

Each time I look out of the window and see this glorious view I know we were right to make this little patch of Welsh hillside our own.  We drink in the view whether it be clear and filled with sunshine, or more recently with the cottages on the hillside opposite shrouded in cloud, mist or heavy rain but we drink it in, breathe in the fresh air as we walk our dogs round our own paddock and look down and across at all that we have accomplished on our land.  We know that a lot of the dreams that we dared to dream really have come true since we found our very own place to put down roots.

So I would like to take the opportunity on this anniversary post to thank everyone for reading this blog,  and to say I hope you will continue to join us on this Our New Life in the Country.  There are even more adventures ahead.

Sue xx 


83 comments:

  1. You have both worked extremely hard to get where you are, you got your new life in the country, lucky you xx

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  2. Happy Blogiversary, I have loved seeing your progress over the years. What a journey it has been and long may it continue x x x

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  3. Rewards for all your determination and hard work, well done!
    (I've loved it all, well nearly...just a couple of sad bits.)

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  4. Wow, what an amazing journey - have found you recently and loved reading back. I'm planning my polytunnel and fruit garden right now, and been searching for online advice. I've ordered the raspberry canes and the fruit trees, but not yet taken the plunge on the tunnel.

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  5. I don't always have time to read or read and comment, but I have loved your blog over the years and continue to do so. This blog gives hope to everyone trying to achieve a goal. Here's to seven years and many more. xxx

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  6. What a wonderful post Sue, I absolutely love your blog and I've had a lovely time reading back through all your blog posts in the last 6 months since I've been in the blogging world. It's so great that you'd got your posts to look back on! I hope 2016 is all you want it to be too. Em xx

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  7. Interesting read. I'm glad you found your 'HOME'.

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  8. Happy anniversary of the blog. Its such a help to people thinking of doing the same.

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  9. Happy Anniversary!! I only 'found' you a couple of years ago, so very interesting to read your journey along the way to Wales!!! Here's to many more years!!

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  10. Happy Blogiversary! It's all been very interesting and inspiring :) xx

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  11. Happy Blogiversary Sue. I have seen your ups and downs since you began the blog, but am always warmed by your making your new life in the country HOME and love to Mavis, I have a soft spot for her, I remember you introducing her to us and how you found her. Bless. Look forward to another 7 years, please forgive me for not coming by and commenting often as I once did, but I do still come by x

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    1. Nice to hear from you Shaheen, I still visit you too, although I don't often comment ... sorry :-)

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  12. Happy 7th blogday! I've only been reading for a few months but I really look forward to my fix!

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  13. Happy Anniversary! I so love your blog and the energy it gives me to do more on my little homestead.

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  14. Great to read a resume of your journey to self sufficiency! Exciting times if your OH is about to give up the "day job".

    Good luck with your plans for this year.

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  15. Happy Blogaversary ! I'm a relatively new follower and don't comment very often but I have been following your adventures for over a year now. I love your blog and you are so inspiring. Here's to the next 7 years of adventures.
    Jackie

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  16. Wishing you a very happy anniversary and such an amazing and fruitful (no pun intended) journey. Thank you do sharing it all with us :)

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  17. ...........and the adventure continues.........
    ....i've been blogging 10 years,....i cannot believe it ....may you continue for many years to come

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  18. Happy blogaversary ! Looking forward to reading many posts for many years to come. xxx...x

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  19. Congratulations on all those years of blogging and charting your moves to where you are now. I hope all your plans go well and your LH is able to stop that commute ASAP and stay home to 'play' (that's what Col always said he was doing after he packed up work!)on the smallholding with you. I'm so envious in a way (even though we had our 23 years)as we wanted to go on for longer and I'll miss it all.

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  20. Bless you all. I can't believe it's only been seven years in some respects, and in others I can't believe seven years have gone so quickly! I still remember in one post in the early days, you posted a picture of your beautiful shop that you had, and showed us what you'd given up for your new life. At the time I couldn't believe it, but you've done such an amazing job through sheer hard work. Bless you all Sue, and very best wishes for your future xx

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  21. Great post Sue. Beautifully precised for us to follow.
    The very best of luck for the future. I hope your partner in crime will be joining you fulll time on your holding soon.
    Gillx

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  22. Congratulations on all your achievements, I have enjoyed following your blog so much and hope you will continue with many more adventures ahead. Betty

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  23. Your blog has been a delight to follow, although only for almost two years. Happy for you to have your dream place.

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  24. Your post reminds me of the old saying "no pain, no gain"! I hope the rewards you get are in proportion to the amount of hard work you have put in. You deserve nothing less than that.

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  25. What a journey you've been on. I started following you in late 2014 I think. I don't comment a lot, but I read your blog every day. You inspire me. I wish we could be more self-sufficient. I wish we had less house and a bit more land. I want to have chickens.

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  26. Happy 7th Blogaversery. You have come so very far.

    God bless.

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  27. Fabulous stuff, no idea the story went so far back! Geese make excellent guards, the Romans found this out when the dogs failed to bark at a stealth invasion of Gauls into the Capitol in 390BC, while the sacred geese honked and raised the alarm. The geese were feted, the dogs crucified.

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  28. WOW - What a fantastic real life story! You have achieved so much. Like many people have said, you are an absolute inspiration. Even though I don't have a smallholding (and never will) you inspire me to make the best of my garden, i.e. growing vegetables and keeping my 2 chickens. Thanks for sharing the journey - it's wonderful to catch up with your daily posts, a real highlight. Kind regards, Louise S, Cheshire.

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  29. Happy Blog Anniversary, I am a few years behind but think you have done far more with your time!

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  30. Very happy blogaversary! Bless you both for all the hard work and dedication to attain your goal, many more years to come.
    Love your blogs :o)
    Best wishes
    Rose H
    xx

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  31. What wonderful adventures you have had! Here's to many more great ones and much more great blogging too! xx

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  32. Happy Blogaversary Sue. I haven't been a follower from your beginning, but near enough. As your life changed at the end of 2008, mine did also at the end of 2006. Like you it is a dogged determination to overcome all obstacles. I congratulate you on all that you have accomplished in such a relatively short time and have no doubt that you will accomplish even more in your new life in the country.

    Best Wishes
    Joan (Wales)

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  33. Happy 7yr anniversary. I've been an avid reader for just over a year but have enjoyed reading about your adventure from the beginning. Very inspiring. I've picked up loads of tips along the way so thank you from me!

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  34. What a lovely entry recapping your seven years, can it really be seven years? Happy Anniversary, and thankyou for writing such a great blog. Looking forward to the next seven years, Vee x

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  35. You have both achieved so much over the years, I think I found you nearly four years ago & have enjoyed every bit. xx

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  36. Amazing journey, good for you, bravo, hope you have many more years of this great life you've made for yourselves.

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  37. What a wondrful journey Sue. Xx

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  38. Well done Sue. Your hard work has very definitely paid off and inspired so many others along the way. Happy Anniversary.

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  39. Happy happy anniversary to you all!

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  40. Excellent post Sue. happy 7 year anniversary.

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  41. Hi. I've been following your adventures for about six years now and what a long way you've come in that time. It has been a pleasure to read your blog as you've been doing what we were trying to do too. I look forward to following for a long time to come. Congratulations on the anniversary : )

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  42. Happy Anniversary to you. I've been following for about 6 years and read every day. You have inspired and taught me along the way too x

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  43. Sue, the farmer and I have just read your account and it has been fascinating. You are to be congratulated on thinking it all through so carefully and then carrying it out. There must now be such a huge sense of satisfaction that you have at last got to where you want to be. We do wish you both all the best in the coming years.

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  44. I'm so glad you love your forever home, I was a bit worried there for a while. And I'm very much looking forward to hearing about this years growing season, although I know I shall feel rather envious of all that lovely room

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  45. What a wonderful journey , Happy Anniversary , Been following for a couple of years so it was nice to see the journey you have made xxx

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  46. Hi Sue, I have read your blog from the very beginning and totally enjoy it. You've come such a long way and plan on doing so much more!! Do I remember correctly that in the past you have mentioned building holiday chalets on your land? Hopefully I'm not mixing you up with another blog! I love reading about all the animals, especially Mavis. I read your blog through Bloglovin but only just realized I hadn't become a follower-so I did!lol Looking forward to more of your adventure!!

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  47. What a journey you've been on. It sounds really grand and now with the self sufficiency , even better. Congrats on 7 years of blogging!!

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  48. I only came to your blog recently, but this is a truly amazing and wonderful story of true self-sufficiency. Well done on this, and on 7 years of blog posting.
    Margaret P

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  49. Thanks for sharing your life, you are an inspiration to so many in a sea of people showing off about wanting more and living large, when so many of us want less and to live a more simple life.

    Julie q

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  50. Happy Anniversary Sue & Lovely Hubby. Followed you since through the ups and downs. Here's to the next 7 years.

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  51. That's one hell of a journey, and it's been great coming with you.

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  52. Well done!
    Hard work is good when it realises dreams.

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  53. Congratulations to you both! I look forward to reading many more years.

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  54. From Margie in Toronto - thank you so much for all your years of posts - they are a true treasure trove. Congratulations.

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  55. You have worked so hard and achieved much. Thanks for taking me along!

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  56. WOW! Congratulations to you both
    Julie xxxxx

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  57. Happy Anniversary. Thank you for sharing your blog. I began reading it sometime after the beginning and thoroughly enjoy reading about your daily life. Wishing you both many more happy years in your Welsh home. :)

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  58. So that's how it all started, Thankyou for putting that in. I only started reading your blog just before you moved into your current house and have loved seeing the changes and hard work you have put in. Think I am secretly envious of your lifestyle but now I know how you planned and saved and made it happen maybe there is hope for me.
    Ruth - Australia.

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  59. Of all the things someone can be to others, I think inspirational is at the top of the list! I read your blogs and am inspired to accomplish something every day! Such energy! Thanks

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  60. What a fabulous adventure you've been on. Long may it continue! Best wishes for your future exploits-Keep us informed x

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  61. Your blog is one of my favourites, I wish I'd found it earlier. Happy anniversary and thank you for all your tips xo

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  62. Love your blog - keep going!! xx

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  63. Happy blogaversary!! What a journey you've been on and I've loved reading about it xxx

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  64. Happy Anniversary, and congratulations on what huge steps you have successfully negotiated. It has been a privilege to share your journey. Thank you.

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  65. Love the potted history of your last 7 years. Looking forward to reading about your next 7.

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  66. Absolutely fantastic achievement.

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  67. Awww Sue this is such a wonderful post to read♥ Gee 7 years already. I remember when you first moved to the Farmhouse. It's been lovely to tag along with you. Take good care and I'm looking forward to the next 7 years:) Linda xx

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  68. Happy blog anniversary!I've found you when you moved to Wales and since then I keep going back reading about your previous adventures. It's amazing the hard work you've been putting to all your homes.You and your husband make a wonderful team. Wishing you both all the best!

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  69. This is the first time I've visited your blog and enjoyed your story immensely! You are the proof that it can be done with hard work and commitment. That's inspiring for us all.

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  70. What an amazing journey you have both had. An inspiration to the rest of us with your vision. Loving the blog as much now as when I first read it x

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  71. Well done on seven years! I've certainly enjoyed reading it for as long as I have (2012 I think).

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  72. Congratulations to you both, what a fantastic achievement and all from the sweat of your brows! One of my favourite reads each day, I especially love to read about your family of four legged friends. Keep up the good work.

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  73. aahh Sue I have a tear in my eye reading this you have come so far both of you and certainly are living the dream. We have just started living the dream and so really are at the start of your 7 years but reading this has given me inspiration I know when the sad day comes that we have to hand back our cottage and bit of land I am going to be lost. Iv said to my husband and he agrees that we will start saving now and hopefully in a few years time we will be able to afford to buy our own plot of land and a static as we will never be in a position to buy our own home. But to be able to have something that you can call your own must be an amazing feeling. Congratulations on all that you have both achieved so far and I look forward to sharing and reading the next chapter of your blog. dee x

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  74. It has certainly been my pleasure to have read all of your posts (day by day). I really enjoy that you do not have any commercialism running through the blog. Happy Anniversary to you. Look forward to you're ( you and Lovely Hubby) further adventures. I have specially enjoyed the adventures of Mavis. For what you have done for her earns you both a special place in animal heaven!!!

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  75. I forgot to say above, Sheridan, in Queensland.

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  76. I have been dipping in and out of your blog for some time but still thank you for the back story so fascinating for a townie who could not do this.

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  77. What a fabulous journey and one we all wish we could take - if we weren't so lazy!

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  78. Wow! What an achievement. You both deserve to be very proud of what you have done. And all by sheer hard work and determination, congratulations. I wish you many more years of happily living your dream. X

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  79. Wishing you all the luck in the world! you are living your dream and on the way you are teaching us a thing or 2 about being frugal and self-sufficient.

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  80. Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so
    I guess I'll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog writer but I'm still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any tips and hints for inexperienced
    blog writers? I'd genuinely appreciate it.

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Sorry but I have added word verification to try and curtail the unprecedented amount of spammers recently posting comments. I will try this rather than stop Anonymous Users commenting for the time being to see if this will solve the problem. Thank you for your patience.