My Bucket List

A few months ago I reached my 40th a significant birthday and as a result of this I’ve been thinking more and more about lifetime ambitions. Now I first became aware of the term ‘Bucket List’ when the film of the same name came out in 2007. It stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two terminally ill men who go on a road trip with a list of things to do before they kick the bucket.

So I’ve been thinking about what I would like to achieve and this week have compiled my “Bucket List”

1. Learn to ride a horse.

2. Climb a mountain

3. See my Son grow up to be happy and live the life he wants to.

4. Live by the sea.

5. Create a beautiful garden.

6. Grow old and happy by my Husbands side.

7. Live in a foreign country, even if its just for a few months.

8. Keep ducks.

9. Buy a campervan and tour around the British Isles.

10. Visit the Pyramids in Egypt.

I’m sure that there will be many, many more things added to this list as time goes by and hopefully I will be able to cross a few off. Now its your turn – what’s on your bucket list?

Image: Pinterest

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Proud to be Carafans!

Our Home From Home

One of the best decisions we have made as a family was to buy a caravan. Whilst caravanning may not be as cool as its close cousin camping, having a caravan has allowed us to explore the length and breadth of Great Britain.

This, our current caravan is actually the third caravan we have owned. We bought our first one in 2004. It was a lot smaller, older and more basic but as novice caravanners with a 4-year-old son it suited us perfectly. After a couple of years of owning it a local farmer wanted rid of the one he used whilst visiting agricultural shows. As he needed the space in his barn where it was stored in a hurry he so sold it to us cheaply and so for a short time we owned two caravans!

Last Easter in the Lake District

We have been fortunate to own our current caravan now for the past 4 years and with its mod cons it has enabled us to extend our caravanning to an all year round activity (we have even caravanned in the snow!). It has allowed us to explore the length and breadth of Great Britain – from the tip of Cornwall to the wild coast of Scotland and introduced us to some wonderful family activities, canoeing, boating, cycling and geocaching are just some that we now enjoy.

Stunning Derwent Water

Even after 8 years of caravanning we still have an endless list of places we want to visit. So far this year we have planned four trips, the first of them being next week staying within our own county of Yorkshire. The following trip is one that I am very excited about 4 days on the shores of Lake Bala in Wales followed by 4 days staying on the Mawddach Estuary.  Plenty of time to canoe, walk and cycle – we even have set Mount Snowdon in our sights!

Later in the year we then have a couple of trips to the lakes planned, one on the shore of Coniston Water and the other on Derwent Water.

So next time you are stuck in traffic behind a caravan please don’t get angry, smile and wave – it could be us!

A Bad Case of Cabin Fever

Like Henry David Thoreau I dream of living in a cabin in the woods.  You can imagine my delight when I stumbled across the Cabin Porn website whilst browsing the internet. (don’t worry about the name there is no nudity involved just lots of gratuitous shots of the most desirable cabins I have ever seen.)

These are just a few of my favourites.

Images from freecabinporn.com

5 Simple Pleasures

The weather has been so damp and miserable in our part of Yorkshire this week but these are the things that have made me cheerful.

1. The view from my kitchen sink

View from the kitchen

Even if it’s pouring down with rain outside this view never fails to lift my spirits.

2. Blossom

Beautiful Apple Blossom

The blossom makes me hopeful, it’s a sign of things to come.

3. My Gardening Books

This week's reading material

I may not have been able to get outside to garden because of the weather this week but with the aid of my books I have been able to plot and plan for the weeks ahead.

4. The first cup of tea of the day

The best drink of the day

The best drink of the day – need I say any more.

5. Fresh Eggs

Which came first?

We were gifted a dozen freshly laid eggs this week and they were delicious. We have been thinking about having hens for a while now but in this case the eggs have definitely come before the chickens.

These are the things that have made me happy this week, I’d love to hear about the things that have made you smile.

It’s Easy Being Clean!

Rain, rain go away.....

Whilst the unrelenting rain that we have had this week has done wonders for the garden it has also ensured that my free time has been spend indoors rather than outside. As a result of this my attention has been directed at sorting out our living quarters.

Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful. – William Morris

I know that this quote has been churned out time and time again but Mr Morris had a point didn’t he? Nowadays we acquire so much, most of it bought on a whim and shortly forgotten about afterwards.  So with William Morris’ words as my mantra I set about systematically culling each room of the unnecessary. My reason for doing this being;

1. Easier to clean

I hate spending time cleaning. Every moment I spend cleaning I know I could be doing something far more rewarding, however growing up with a Mother who is ever so slightly obsessive about cleaning (4am hoovering anyone?) has left its mark. I have to clean the house before I can enjoy other pursuits and I figure that the less things you have the less there is to clean.

2.Less stressful

I find that clutter is a distraction. I cannot relax surrounded by clutter and a simple, tidy space helps me focus.

3. More appealing

To me simple homes are beautiful homes – it’s just my preference.

So now whilst not quite the minimalistic sanctuary that I dream of the house is at least organised. I get a great satisfaction knowing where things are and that if asked I can put my hands on something without having to rummage through the build up of seven years of living here.

Self Sufficient(ish)

I’ve been thinking about how we can become self sufficient a lot lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that in this day and age true self sufficiency is nigh on impossible to achieve.

The definition of self sufficient in my dictionary reads “able to supply one’s own or its own needs without external assistance 

Yes, we could live off the grid by installing solar, finding a convenient fresh water spring and having a compostable midden, but whilst we are living in England there is no avoiding the payment of council tax and could we really live without the NHS and a broadband connection?

I think the best we can hope for is self sufficientish.

Simplifying Life

I think that by nature I prefer simplicity. I function far better when my surroundings are less cluttered and pared back. I like to work without the distractions of the radio or TV as with them I find it hard to focus on the task in hand.

As part of our simplicity project I want to reduce the excess in our lives. To me simplifying our lives means one thing – cutting back on the less essential things to allow more space to enjoy the things that we love. By doing this I hope that we can concentrate on the things that mean the most to us both as individuals and as a family.

I think that we have too much ‘stuff’ – stuff that we don’t need or use. Now don’t get me wrong, we are far from excessive however I have mimimalistic tendencies and so I am easily frustrated by the slightest amount of clutter.

My plan is quite simple – firstly reduce the amount of possessions to what we need, use or love and secondly reduce the amount of things that enter our home. This though will be easier said than done as both my husband and son have potential maximumist (is there such a word?)  tendencies. Now I don’t mean that they are spendaholics, they, like a lot of men HATE shopping. They just seem to aquire things.

Take one night a few years ago. We had met friends at a local pub for a few drinks. Late that night we were walking home and on the way we passed an overflowing skip and there perched on top was a tatty, well worn workbench. Now we have a perfectly good workbench at home however this workbench had to come home with us – never mind that it was in the skip for a reason – it was dirty, heavy and we still had another 1/2 mile to walk.

In the cold (and sober) light of day the reason for the work bench being in the skip was apparent – it was completely broken and not fit for purpose, however it is still here unused and cluttering up the garage to this day.

So this week I shall be thinking how we can as a family look to reduce the amount of unnecessary possessions we have in our lives and hopefully make our homelife a little simpler.

This Year’s Crops

Photo: Burgon & Ball

As part of our self sufficientish lifestyle our plan is to grow as much of our food as possible. When we first moved here we had never grown anything from scratch and whilst we had enjoyed gardening at our last house it was more of the see what plant catches our eye at the garden centre variety.

Over the past few years we have gradually increased what we grow. We started by growing potatoes and courgettes and buoyed on by our first years success we haven’t looked back. One thing that we did learn however was to only grow the stuff that we really like. In that first year we had a veritable glut of courgettes and being the only courgette eating person in our household meant that there were quite a few uneaten . My attempt at courgette muffins could not persuade anyone otherwise.

This year we are growing:

Potatoes – First Earlies ‘Home Guard’, Second Earlies ‘Maris Peer’, Maincrop ‘King Edward’ and ‘Kerr’s Pink’

Sweetcorn – ‘Applause’

Dwarf beans

Basil

Corriander

Tomatoes – ‘Olirose’, ‘ Orange Bourgoin’

Carrots – ‘Autumn King’

Beetroot – ‘Boltardy’

Pumpkin – ‘Jack o’ Lantern’

Rhubarb

Rocket

Mixed Salad Leaves

Peppers

Courgettes – ‘Black Beauty’

Spring Onion – ‘Ishikura’

Salsify

We also have permement plantings of:

Apples – ‘Scrumptious’, ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ and two unknown varieties of dessert apple

Pears – ‘Conference’

Plums -‘Victoria’

Strawberries

Raspberries – ‘Autumn Bliss’

Redcurrants – ‘Jonkheer Van Tets’

Blackcurrants – Ben Nevis’

Jeruselem Artichokes

Globe Artichokes

Herbs – Chives, Thyme, Fennel, Bergamot, Sage

We look forward to showing you the results as they appear!

The Orchard – Part 2

We have been trying to keep this part of the garden clear for the past few years. The brambles and perennial weeds have finally been controlled and this weekend saw us borrowing a rotavator to help turn the soil and clear it of rubbish.

Quite a machine!

The soil here is amazing, years of neglect and decaying vegetation have left a lovely loamy soil that would be fantastic for growing vegetables in so we have decided to transfer some of it into the new raised beds that we are building in the vegetable garden.

Lovely Stuff!

What we didn’t expect to find was so much junk! Not long after we started we dug up one and then two of these.

First the hub caps….

I was joking to my husband when I said that perhaps the rest of the car might be buried in the garden somewhere…..

Then the axle!

The soil will now be raked, leveled and then covered with black plastic to deter further weeds until the time is right to seed it with a meadow mix .

Almost There

The Orchard – Part One

When we moved here we were more than happy to discover that the large old trees halfway down the garden were fruit trees. We subsequently found that we were the proud owners of two very old Bramley apple trees, an unidentified dessert apple tree and the largest pear tree I have ever seen.

Our Pear Tree – The Last Survivor

Further investigations uncovered that what we had was the last remaining part of an old orchard, the rest of it had been destroyed and built on sometime in the 1980’s and was now somewhat ironically called Orchard Drive.

We were very proud of our old trees and the fact that they were there to act as a reminder of the history of our little patch of land – and as an added bonus they gave us as much fruit as we could wish for.

You can imagine our horror then when out of the blue one day last year we received a letter from the insurers of the house closest to the trees implicating our trees in a subsidence claim.

Without going into detail the end result was that all the trees except the Pear had to be felled. Poorly built house 1 – Old orchard nil

While we find it upsetting to think about what happened it has given us the chance to plan that area of the garden from scratch and to replant a new orchard in another part of the garden. The new orchard will be situated in the furthest part of the garden, unfortunately this is the area that has been the most neglected.

Ready to plant

So this month has all been about preparation in this part of the garden. We have planted a native hedgerow to the field side of the garden, comprising of 250 bare rooted whips, a mix of Hawthorne, Blackthorn, Guelder Rose, Holly, Field Maple and Dog Rose.

All planted!

Next job -the preparation of the soil.