Saturday 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011

You were a strange year, a year of learning, of realising.  One of strengthening bonds and knowing the true value of love.

You gave us great heartache, you gave us laughs, you took what we most valued and then tried to take some more.

We will look back on you with sorrow, with joy, with love and with hatred.

You were just a year

There is no review of 2011 on my Blog this year, it has played itself out at it's own pace, at times we struggled to keep up, at times we raced ahead and thumbed our noses at it. At times it ground us down and dragged, then it raced along and tried to make us lose our grasp.  We kept up with love, laughter and with the knowledge of our strength we finally won through. It has gone and we are still here.

2011 has drawn to its natural end, and we look forward to 2012 with the strength that 2011 has given us.   Knowing that we are as strong as we need to be, that we can help those that we need to help and be there for those that need us most.

Thank you 2011 you were a necessary year but one that we say farewell to very easily.

We are lucky we have each other, we have our love, we have our lives, our families, our friends and blogging buddies, we wish you all the very best for 2012, may it be what you make it.  You have the power to live your lives, to change your lives, anything is possible and anything can happen.

As the bible says - 'In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.”   (1 Corinthians 13.13)

If we have one, we can have all three, if we have all three we are truly strong and nothing a year throws at us will diminish that love.

Happy New Year

Sue xx

Friday 30 December 2011

Our Big Challenge 2012 - Saying NO to the Supermarkets

All these shots are of Pangbourne shops.

Our BIG Challenge for 2012 is saying "NO thank you" to the supermarkets and "Hello" to the High Street and small retailer.  We will not shop on a weekly basis anymore at the big supermarkets (or their little branches or cousins for that matter). We will NOT shop on a monthly basis at them either, we will shop at them only if there is absolutely no other means of obtaining what we need.

Earlier this month I asked my readers for their opinion on Marks and Spencer, was it a High Street shop or a supermarket, I was half hoping it would be a high street shop, and indeed as an ex -high street shop manager we were indoctrinated that they were 'one of us', but if you Google 'supermarkets' guess who now pops up half way down the list. So it is now included in our list of shops not to frequent for food.

Last week after signing the lease on our new home for the next three years, we took a drive to the High Street (and yes it is called that).  Luckily our nearest town is Pangbourne, in Berkshire, and guess what ...... it has virtually every shop we may need over the next year. 

A butcher, a baker (not quite a candlestick maker but a couple of gift shops that do sell them!), a greengrocers, a health food shop, a couple of banks, a Post Office,  two hairdressers, a large pub that serves meals, a chip shop, a pizza shop, a pet supplies shop, a couple of charity shops (woo hoo) and even dentists, doctors and a couple of coffee shops.  It does have a supermarket, a nice neat little Co-op, which is actually one of the good guys in the supermarket world, with lots of Fair Trade products and it acts ethically too, especially with it's money, but we won't be using this on a regular basis for this year at least.   All this and a village hall that has a Craft Market once a week and a Producers Market once a month. 

 Just how lucky can we get, this is a lost commodity in many villages and small towns and one that we will be supporting on every step of our journey. These are nearly all shops that I see us frequenting over the next few years. 

We have both been brought up in a completely supermarket obsessed age, so we are not being as short sighted as to completely ban ourselves from entering them if we really have to.  In case of a real need I have given us six Jokers to play over the course of the year, of course I hope we don't have to but sometimes there may be no choice and rather than fall at the first hurdle it would be more satisfying to have an ace up my sleeve (or in this case a Joker). 

Each time we have to visit a supermarket to shop (for whatever reason) we will play a Joker, we have given ourselves only six and really hope that we still have at least some of them left at the end of the year.


The reasons for doing this Challenge are many -

1. To take away our perceived dependence on the supermarkets.

2. To support local businesses, small producers and suppliers.  To try to help them stay in business, what will the country be like when the supermarkts have total control of all our food.  It's not as far in the future as you think, once they have control they will be able to dictate the prices we pay for everything.

3.  To stop us wasting money on things we don't really need ....  'Buy 2 Get 1 Free' is tempting, too tempting at times, but it lightens your purse and overfills your cupboards.  And since I found out that it is the supplier NOT the supermarket that pays for this 'offer' it has not looked nearly so appealing.

4.  To encourage us to think even wider about what we can grow to feed ourselves, and to make better use of all the things we do grow.

5. To satisfy my soul....... who can resist a greengrocers display of fresh organic seasonal produce, true they try to replicate it in the supermarkets with their row upon row of perfect, blemish free, same sized tasteless mass produced, picked too early fruits and veggies flown from all around the world.  Lovely to look at in the supermarket with the high stacks and bright lights but how disappointing when you get them home and eat them, hence the snacking later, our bodies need nutrients and flavour to be healthy, and these foods just don't supply them.

How much better to find we have a gap in our produce say of a cucumber, go to the greengrocers or Farmers Market find an local English grown freshly picked one and still enjoy the flavour I could have grown myself. And even better get home with just the makings of the meal I want and not have to find room for 24 toilet rolls that I didn't want or need but bought because they were 'just too good a bargain' to miss.


Yes we will be looking for bargains when we shop but NOT at the expense of the grower/producer/manufacturer.  We are looking to 'jump off the consumer bandwagon' with a satisfying thud, become more aware of what we need, what we want and how we get it.  It may take us all year to get used to this or it may come naturally..... I'll let you know.

We have cupboards and freezers once again full to capacity with bought foods, bargains I couldn't resist, treats I perceived us to deserve, so firstly this month we will be working our way through them, and emptying the worktops of foods that we couldn't even fit in the cupboards, rifling through the full to the brim freezers....where did it all come from .......the Supermarkets mostly.  Well thank you very much Mr Tesco, Master Asda, posh cousin Waitrose, nice Mr Sainsbury, glamorous Granny Marks and Spencer et al, but we will not be darkening your doors for a long time. 

We thank you for supplying us with these 'must have bargains', for lightening my load by emptying my purse and my bank account so regularly over the past years, but now we are doing something so very satisfying we are taking back control of our lives.  The most important part of our lives, the nourishment we put into our bodies. 

 January will be a virtually 'No Spend' month as we eat our way through our stocks of food, the only thing we should really need to buy is milk, that will be purchased from the little shop in the next village when I go to buy my Radio Times or post a letter.  I have bread in the freezer and flour in the cupboard to make our own when that runs out.

Last year we took lots of small steps forward in our drive to be self sufficient and self sustaining, this year we are striding forward more confident, with our purses and wallets firmly tucked deep in our pockets and our spades and trowels near to hand, but most of all with a firm resolve that we will take control of our lives.

Join us on our journey .... as before you are very welcome.   If you have tips to share or just moral support to offer, comment on our posts, let us know if you think we are doing it right or if you think we have gone to far.  Let us know if you are doing something similar yourselves.  The more of us that make a stand like this the better it will be for this countries high streets.  We are gradually losing more and more of our 'little shops', if you can make just one extra purchase from the high street shop instead of a supermarket you will be helping the shops we really shouldn't be losing.  It is so easy when you just stop and think for a minute.

Sue xx

Thursday 29 December 2011

'From Simple to Frugal....and Beyond'

Jointers Farm House when we first moved in 2009

'From Simple to Frugal....and Beyond'
 (one couples journey to jump off the consumer bandwagon)

Last year our sub heading under the Our New Life in the Country header was '...Our Year of Living Simply', this year we are moving on from that, our new sub heading is the one above.  In February we hope to move into our new place.  We have found a good place to rent, a two bedroom bungalow in Berkshire, it has 4 acres of land around it, plenty for our now down scaled operation without the pigs.

Jointers Farm, 4.5 acres highlighted around the house with our 6 acre paddock to the left of the picture.

Here in Oxfordshire we lease a large four bedroom (picture at the top), three bathroom farmhouse with ten and a half acres of land on which we have two huge ponds and a stone barn, it costs us dearly, but was all we could get hold of at the time that we moved.  It has single glazing and large rooms, so although the Aga does a stirling job of heating the kitchen, lots of heat just vanishes through the windows all around the house.  Every room has lots of lights and as we usually end up in different rooms doing different jobs they tend to all be on.  We could have extended this lease but we decided to be sensible, this house is also an 80 minute drive away from where Lovely Hubby works so the round trip each day adds over 2 hours to his already long 10 hour day and in turn costs us lots in fuel for the vehicles.

Now we have decided on our future, and that it includes us being as self-sufficient as possible, rather than farming, we need to save for our very own 'forever home', this entails us down sizing and having some very frugal years while we plough as much of the money that Lovely Hubby earns into our bank account for our deposit, which needs to be as large as possible, for we will then carry on living frugally while we pay off the mortgage, so LH can then reduce his working hours.

Our new home near Pangbourne

We have now signed the rental agreement on our new home for the next three years, and it will be ours from the first week in February.   Hopefully we will be able to completely redecorate (we have decided to paint everywhere white as it is a dark little house and white paint is the cheapest anyway) before we move in as it is tiny in comparison to where we live now.  Once that has been done we will move into the house everything that we need to live comfortably for the next three years.  All excess possessions or things that don't fit will be sold and the money added to our savings.

Although this too is mostly single glazed, it has a wood burner, just five small rooms and is in a nice sheltered spot instead of being in the middle of nowhere with the wind whistling round our ears like now.  Hopefully we will be able to get it warm and cosy and cut our costs dramatically.  The best is just a fifteen minute drive from where LH works and means he will be away from the house for less time each day AND cut down dramatically on our fuel costs.

The move is just our first step on saving money, once there we can put into place all that we have learnt here on the farm and get growing our own foods, providing our own wood for the fire, over our fence to the left of the property is a  HUGE wood and we are able to forage and gather all that we need from there, so we have the prospect of free fire wood for three years.

So that's a smaller house, less land (but more suitable for the chickens and growing our own veggies), free wood for the wood burner, less fuel needed for the cars.  Now what else can we do to make next year less consumer back tomorrow for the unveiling of our main challenge for the year ahead.

Exciting times.

Sue xx

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Lovely Hubby does his once yearly shop.....

Lovely Hubby does his once yearly shop..... or how to kit yourself out for the business year ahead for less than £200.

Yesterday we took a deep breathe and set off for Asda, specifically for the Asda at High Wycombe, the nearest one to us with a clothes department.  We imagine frantic shoppers, tugs of war over bargain items ......but no...when we got there the store was bare.... well almost.

We perused rail after rail of clothes, a shoppers (especially sale shoppers) paradise.  Lots of merchandise all waiting to be snapped up.  What were we after, well once a year we need to re-stock LH with some smart work wear, he has made his last two (rather expensive) suits last for about four years, but now they are showing their age so this year we were after a suit as well. 

What we didn't expect was to get everything for under £200.  A bargain!!

Our total haul - one suit jacket, two pairs of suit trousers, 7 smart shirts, 6 new ties, six casual collared T shirts, 10 pairs of underpants, 5 pairs of smart socks and 5 pairs of sports socks.

Only a couple of the T shirts were actually in the sale the rest were all at normal price.   Total spend on clothes £183, what an absolute bargain.

We kept our eyes firmly on what we needed and refused to be tempted by the cut price foody leftovers from the holiday season.  We re-stocked with a bit of fresh salady stuff and bought some bread and milk then set off for home with the rest of our hard earned cash still securely tucked in our pockets.

As we left the store, around 11.30 ish, cars were streaming into the car park, obviously the staff were in for a much busier afternoon.

Now with all the T shirts in the wash and the shirts washed and ready to iron, LH is all set for his return to work after his long Christmas break, very smart and with money still in the bank - result !

Today he is sorting through his wardrobe and moving everything 'down a level', that means the T shirts he already has get used for working on the farm, the previous 'farm' T shirts and old shirts (after removing buttons) get turned into cloths for dusting and tractor maintenance.  He owns four pairs of jeans, one pair new, one pair reasonably  good and two scruffy pairs for farm work and he has his smart leather style jacket for casual wear and a couple of body warmers and big jackets for working on the farm in and doggy walks. That's all he needs and more importantly all he wants.  His new buys will be given pride of place in the wardrobe and looked after well to ensure as many wears as possible.  He usually works four days a week at the office, so he now has eight smart shirts in total, plus a few short sleeved ones for the hottest days of Summer.

In some peoples eyes that would be exessive, in others it would be minimal, it suits us and makes life simple, I can wash and iron his shirts once a week, and so cut down on washing machine and iron use, and therefore electricity by having this many.

After our 'Year of Living Simply' this is a good start to our new year -

'From Simple to Frugal....and Beyond'
 (one couples journey to jump off the consumer bandwagon)

More details to follow.

Sue xx

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Way too much food........

There's been way too much food this holiday......

... some of it in large portions and some in smaller, I did lots of mini things for the buffet at my Mum and Dads on Christmas Day, the big Banoffee Pie above is normal size it's the little one that's super little!!

 We had our Christmas dinner yesterday, a lovely lazy day, watching television, eating and drinking and generally just chilling out big style.  Lovely Hubby had pheasant and I had Linda's Veggie roast to try it (verdict - not bad, but just the veggies, stuffing and gravy would have been as good).

We've watched lots of Christmassy films and films that made us well up and go 'awwww'.  Feeling completely chilled now and ready to start on our sorting and planning for the New Year. 

We have to visit the dreaded place today (the supermarket), LH needs some new shirts and ties for work and his favourite shop for them is Asda, so Mr George here we come....what do you have available in the sale?

Somebody else got new clothes for Christmas, but she discovered if she rolled on her back she could get her little legs out of the sleeves and almost escape!!

Anyway why do you need a jacket of your own when you can share Dad's on the way back from a long walk and get all cosy.

Sue xx

Saturday 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing all the readers, followers, friends, Blogging buddies and all our very special family members the most wonderful Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous and happy New Year.

We'll be back in a few days with news of our new home, our Challenge for the New Year and lots more news and happenings here on the farm in wet and windy Oxfordshire.

In the meantime, keep warm, have fun and most of all enjoy yourselves in whatever way you choose.

Happy Christmas


Sue and Alan xx

A Very Non-Christmas Story

Last night when Lovely Hubby went out to close up the henhouses, he had a bit of a shock (understatement of the year).  The girls in house number one were squawking and leaping out the door, sat in the back corner trying to pin one down was Mr Fox, LH quickly got all the girls out and shut the fox into the house.  He banged on the window and shouted for me to get his gun, I did and the nasty fox that has been terrorising my girls over the past couple of weeks is now a goner.

Then we had the task of finding the now dispersed chickens in the pitch black with only one working torch and the rain pouring down.  Looking under the vehicles and shining the torch under every tree and bush  meant we found around nine or ten more of the chickens who had run for their lives, one was hiding under the cowavan with Toby the black cat.  Others we hoped were somewhere safe as we had found no bodies.

This morning at first light we heard the crowing of one of the young cockerels in the raised beds at the back of the house and then from the little bank of trees behind the house came a steady stream of  hens, looking non to worse for wear for their night of camping in the 'forest'.  After a head count, a search around, and finding no piles of feathers we sadly guessed that we had lost just two of the young cockerels to the fox, but we guessed wrong!!

Rosy, the Jack Russell was frantically pawing at the hollow tree to the front of the house, so LH went and shone his torch into the opening and there lying low and waiting for his Mum was a young badger and next to him, a pile of grey feathers.  Obviously they had taken advantage of the boys who had unfortunately chose the wrong place to try and roost for the night.

We have no problem with nature and I'm glad in a way that the badgers slept with full tummies last night, although I will miss my lovely little  Lavender Pekin boys. The Badgers will not be shot or harmed, their location will be kept secret and, as they hunt at night when my chickens are usually tucked up safe and sound, the two should be able to live in harmony with a bit of extra care for the birds from us.

We're both sad in a way at the death of the fox he was a magnificent looking animal, but he had been picking off my birds one by one, living wild and had had a pretty good life looking at the condition of him, but when you take on the responsibilty of looking after chickens you have a duty of care to protect them from predators, and I'm so very glad that my brave man was there to do just that.

We expect no eggs today as the birds from house number one are completely traumatised.  But thanks to Lovely Hubby they live to lay another day.

(All photos from Google Images)

Sue xx

Friday 23 December 2011

To my Blogging Buddies

To all my Blogging Buddies this Christmas, I would just like to say THANK YOU, thank you for a year of supporting comments, emails and contacts.  Your comments yesterday were absolutely lovely.  They help us so much. 

Today would have been Jessie's 82nd birthday.  We are spending it as she would have wanted - together.  We are giving each other the gift of time, time to mooch about and explore the town near to our new home, we are signing the documents while we are there today that will make it ours for the next three years.  She would have loved to know that we are to be settled in the next stage of our adventure together in time for Christmas.

The flowers above are for Jessie, we love you, we miss you terribly, but you are safe in our hearts, cuddled deep in our love for each other, we will light a candle tonight in the new candle holder we have bought and it will be lit every night over Christmas to let Jessie share the light with us.

And these flowers are for you, my Blogging friends, THANK YOU so much.

Sue xx

Thursday 22 December 2011

Christmas Tips and Ideas - Week 5 - Final Week

My only tip this week is to take a step back from the madness, give yourself one gift, the gift of time.  No matter how much there is to do keep some precious time for yourself. 

Involve everyone in the preparation, let the children set the table and see everyone to their seats, take the guests up on their offers of assistance, loading the dishwasher, entertaining the children, share the chores and they will all be done that much sooner.

This can be a stressed day or a relaxing day, it is after all only one day, it's a roast dinner with dessert, it's nibbles later and probably too much chocolate and alcohol.  But know your limitations and if you feel the need to take ten minutes, pour yourself a coffee (or something stronger) and take them.

When I feel the need I grab my coat and the dogs and walk, we walk the fields and watch the Red Kites soaring overhead, magical.  Nature has a way of grounding you.  Last week Lovely Hubby and I saw a Heron flying frantically over the farm something clasped in it's beak and then in close pursuit came the Buzzard obviously wanting the same snack, it didn't catch the Heron but while it lasted the flypast was magical and took our breath away.

We don't eat turkey in this house, but Archie the cat is definitely after our now defunct singing turkey, he sits for hours watching it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, this will be a hard one for us and it's been a tough year, but as a family we are pulling close, the bonds we have are tighter than ever as we prepare to face another traumatic time, I will tell you about this another day, for now I give you the gift of time.

 You have to wrap it yourself place it somewhere safe, and then take the paper off whenever you need it.  If you get really stressed out and have no time.......

JUMP UP AND DOWN ON THE BL**DY BOX ........... it's a great stress reliever.

Linking over to Angela at Tracing Rainbows and  all the other top tipsters.  Thank you to Angela for organising this, I hope some of the things we have mentioned in the posts have been of use.  Angela's today has given me a few great ideas.

Sue xx

Wednesday 21 December 2011

The Party Season

Last night I went to my first party of the season (possibly my only party of the season!!).  I didn't have to worry about what to wear, jeans and jumper were perfectly acceptable, in fact almost compulsory.  No drinks were drunk, little nibbles were handed round, but only to our companions.  The other party goers all brought little friends with them....yes you've most likely guessed it was a 'Puppy Party'. 

The humans all sat and listened to the nice dog behaviourist/trainer lady while the puppies got to know each other.  First the more outgoing, confident dogs were let off the lead, yes Suky was the very first, but she is used to holding her own with our motley crew. Then the shyer dogs got their turn to play with each other. Then the dogs were all examined all over on the vets table to get them used to it, Suky loved this part....being stroked and looked at while being fed doggy treats....who wouldn't! 

Once back on my lap while we had the talk about toilet training and bad doggy habits, she very quickly fell asleep and snored her little head off to the delight and amusement of all present.  Not shy my little girl, if you need a little doggy nap...just go for it.

What I did find out is that I'm doing it all wrong on the toilet training front.  We were doing it the 'old fashioned way',  using newspaper, at first willy nilly all over the house and then less of it and moving it nearer to the door until eventually they associate going to the door whenever you want to 'go to the toilet' as the right thing to do (it did work with the other two!!).

Now, the latest thinking is that puppies learn to look for the same smell and surfaces each time, so if your newspaper is on carpet and they miss slightly they will smell the carpet and assume that that is the desired surface and obviously some smell will leach through paper onto the floor anyway.  So now the thinking is that you take the puppy outside every half an hour or so, after feeding and after drinking, if it 'goes' you praise it and give it a treat if it doesn't you bring it back in.  If it then decides to 'go' you pick it up mid-flow if necessary (the puppy WILL stop we were told) and take it outside to finish.

Well I got home told Lovely Hubby about all this and he said 'fine give it a go we'll start tomorrow'.  So today I am having a complete scrub down of all the floors where Suky has been.  I have 'Puppy Smell Eradicator' to spray over the cleaned surface and we are starting toilet training all over again.

This morning I have been in and out of the house like a yoyo, the big girls, who obviously have to accompany their little sister on any trip to the great outdoors,  are very good and when you say 'wee wees' will do their best to go, are completely fed up and looking at me with pleading eyes that say "Mum we are completely out of wee wees and we simply can't drink enough to keep up with these requests".

Suky....well she thinks this in and out game is brilliant, you get to go out play on the stones and grass, eat the stones and grass, chase the other dogs under the cars....... and then you get to come in and do your 'wee wees' straight away on the nice warm carpet. If someone picks you up simply carry on and make a trail all along the carpet.  You look at the doggy treats waiting for you, shrug your little shoulders and fall asleep until the next time.

Anyone got any Doggy Pampers please!!

Edited in - after hoovering and then cleaning the whole of the living room carpet (our room is about 30ft x 14ft and has fitted cream coloured carpet) with a good carpet cleaner and then liberally applying the 'Odour Eradicator' I took the dogs out (yet again!!), and while Rosy distracted me Suky ran back into the house chased by Sophie with her huge muddy feet and now the carpet looks like a puzzle board of a game where you follow the doggy footprints to reach the we go again.

Sue xx

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Cosy Evenings

As the year winds down so do we, curling up in front our of open fire each evening, burning through the days rubbish (yes that is a pizza wrapper you see waiting to be added to the fire), we don't have a refuse collection here on the farm, so all burnable stuff helps heat the house each evening, along with our free logs and kindling.

Watching the flames can be hypnotic and as good as any programme on the 'box'.  Over numerous cups of coffee and the occasional glass of wine we enjoy conversations about our day, plans for the future, phone calls made and recieved, all subjects are ripe for discussion in front of the lovely flames.

The animals usually join us on the sofa, but sometimes little Suky will stand in front on the fire, occasionally joined by Rosy basking in the warmth, then curling up together.  Sophie, the Border Collie prefers cold places and sits at the bottom of the stairs near the back door, sometimes when it gets too draughty she will come into the living room and tuck herself up under the desk or at the end of the sofa, but she does not like the heat from the fire.  The cats prefer their little 'wigwams' in the utility room, little beds with a domed tops that trap their body heat and make for a warm and cosy night, with easy access to the catflap should they hear interesting noises outside the door.

"What are you doing Mum?"

"Is this a good look .....

... or should I do my cute one......!! "

Cosy evenings, tucked up at can't beat it can you.

How do you keep cosy on these long dark nights?

Sue xx

Monday 19 December 2011

Remember this date last last year.....

Remember this date last year 19th December, my Dad's birthday, I wrote a post that I loved, I hope he loved it too.  This year when I need them most, the words won't come.

I give you this post again, every word is from the heart, it can't be bettered, so it will be re-posted.

The Boy in The Red Velvet Suit

Remember last year......the little boy in the red velvet suit......well this year he's EIGHTY.
He's a man that's been through lots of experiences in his life, from being (very briefly) evacuated during the 2nd World War, my Nana couldn't bear to leave him and his sister, so she brought them straight back home!! To doing his National Service and then settling down in civilian life in an office job.
He met and married my Mum in the late fifties and has looked after her and his family ever since.

We presented him (and my Mum) with a great big learning curve when we came to the farm but he just got stuck in. From helping to fill polytunnels, to being chased by giant pigs....he's coped with it all.
~And the best thing is he's coped with it all with a great big smile on his face.
At every family 'do' and every restaurant we go to, ours is the noisiest table, full of laughter and happiness, that is why it's so sad I can't be there today to help him celebrate this special day. We are completely snowed in and the roads between here and my Dad are impassable. But the link we share as father and daughter is never impassable, is never ending and can never be broken.
Since the days he came to meet me from brownies and we walked home chatting away, the day he taught me to ride my first two wheeler bike...I pedalled and pedalled and he said "don't worry I won't let you go".......and then suddenly I looked round and he had let go, way back down the street, a Dad sure in the knowledge that he had instilled in me enough confidence to carry on, on my own down the street on my bike, and then years later off on my own in the big wide world. ~
Everyone deserves a special Dad, and I have mine. I am secure in the person I am because of the way my parents raised me. They are always telling me how proud they are of me, and of the woman I have become. I wouldn't be that woman without them and their love.
I love you Dad, have a wonderful birthday.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~
This year he's eighty one, but everything else in this post is just the same, although we're not snowed in and I'm not missing his party, we're spending Christmas Day at theirs as a family instead.

This year although the world outside my window is hard and white with the frost lighting the morning sky in an unnatural way, the love I feel in my heart from my family keeps me warm.

A family is only as strong as the love it shares, we have so much love, so much laughter and in tough, tough times we know we are there for each other.

I love you both Mum and Dad, enjoy this birthday together, keep warm.
Sue xx

Friday 16 December 2011

Farmers Markets, Craft Fairs and Giveaway Results

This weekend sees the end of an era.  We are doing our last Craft Fair on Saturday and then on Sunday our final Farmers Market in Tetsworth Village Hall, we did our final Great Haseley one last Sunday and went out with a flourish, with lots of bargains for the customers and lots of good wishes for us (and a box of handmade chocolates off one of my favourite customers).

Over the last three years the stock has changed slightly, going over to more handmade and homegrown lavender goodies and away from the bought in things I used to sell in my little lavender shop in Cumbria.

But always we had fun setting up stall and enticing the customers over with the lovely soothing smell of lavender.  During the Summer we sold lots of freshly laid free range eggs, Lovely Hubby's worm tea and compost and took orders for our lovely pork products.

It's been an interesting three years, we've had stalls in all sorts of places, village halls, town centre squares........

... windy deserted car parks, thanks to Jason our Gazebo didn't blow away, but he had to hang on tight!!

The best seller has always been my handmade soaps and loose lavender, with Essential oils coming in a close third.

It really is the end of an era, but one which although we've enjoyed thoroughly, will be happy to see the back of.  No more trying to feed animals in the dark and then getting changed and trying to get away on time, lugging boxes and boxes of stuff in and out of the car, trying to set up stalls on windy days or desperately trying to get warm in freezing cold village halls.

Next year in our bid for self sufficiency we will be concentrating on ourselves, growing for ourselves and making for ourselves and we are really looking forward to it.

And the winner of my little giveaway the other day chosen by a random generator thingy (which I could not figure out how to pop into the Blog (sorry)) is number 21 which is.....


If you drop me an email Shaheen with your address, I will post you a little selection of the goodies I have been selling over the last few weeks at our Farmers Markets and Craft Fairs. (My email address is on my righthand side bar.)

Oh ......and yesterday in the words of Margo Leadbetter  .... 'Christmas was delivered'.  Our yearly luxury hamper from Lovely Hubbys generous contract agency arrived and is now snuggled next to the Christmas tree holding lots of yummy treats for us for the festive season.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Sue xx