Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Goodbye social media

It has been on my mind for a while now.  Every time I log in to Facebook I see images that I don't want to see.  Images shared by people believing that sharing a picture a thousand times, of a poor animal being beaten, will actually stop that action happening again.  As my friend said, I am so over it! 

I will miss following friends who I don't see in person (Hello Scotland, Bedford and Australia), but I have other ways of communicating with them. 

I think that the plans we have for the next year will keep me busy enough!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2 weeks, 3 days to go!

Is anyone counting down with me?  We are all super excited here and have got over the lull of feeling like there is aggggges to go and now are starting to think practically as we are down to 17 sleeps.  For example, I have sorted the home insurance and the best deal we could get for what we need (which includes £5000 cover on outbuildings) is with Admiral.  The first payment has been made and the direct debit set up.  I have been in touch with the council re the extortionate council tax - let us see what we get for our money! Also I've found out which oil we need for the oil tank which supplies the Aga and the boiler. 

The TV, electricity, water and phone line/broadband etc will all be done on moving in.  When I looked in to the phone and broadband, they set you up within a day or two.  Also we won't be paying for any TV packages at the farm but will pop an aerial on and get Freeview with our current TVs.

We are wondering what to do re heating the water as the boiler heats a huge water tank which is a lot bigger than a standard tank tat we have been used to in the past.  The showers are electric and the washing machine heats the water as it goes.  Therefore the only water we foresee needing is to wash the pots and wash our hands which makes me think it is a complete waste of resources to heat a whole tank just or those reasons.

Aside from this I am planning for Christmas 2016.  The cards from this year will be recycled to make tags for next years presents.  This will work two fold in that I will use them to create my list of people to send our cards to.  I'd like to do home made cards for family so will give some thought to the design of those. 

This whole process is a lifestyle change for us.  We know it won't all happen on day one, or even day two, but by day three we should have it sorted ;)  and with that thought, I'm off to drink my merlot and do some more dreaming and planning.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

3 weeks, 3 days to go!

I'm almost finished work for Christmas and I'm working today from home, so even better.  It will be a long day but at least that's it after that.  So I have more time to update the blog and think about the smallholding.

Yesterday I made a spicy butternut squash soup.  It has a kick to it and may be even too much of a kick so next time I will reduce the chilli's slightly.  It is very nice though.  Recipe/method for my future reference:

Golden butternut squash soup with a kick
Dice an onion and sweat in olive oil with a small amount of garlic paste (I don't have any fresh garlic here) and 1 flat (mine was heaped) teaspoon of cheat's chilli flakes.
After 5/10 mins, add a chopped up butternut squash with 2 chopped up sweet potatoes (mine were small, 1 large would do).
Cover with stock (I used veg, chicken may work to, I'll try next time), bring to the boil then simmer until tender, approximately 30 mins depending on size of the veg.
Cool slightly then blend thoroughly. 
It will be a lovely golden colour with flecks of red chilli and is perfect when you have a cold and need help blowing your nose!

I saved the seeds of the butternut squash so I am going to google what I need to do, if anything, before sowing them (whenever that may be!).

I also made a casserole which was onion, beef, tomato puree, gravy (not stock), carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and peas all in together, added according to their cooking time.  I served it with home made Yorkshire puddings.  It's the first time I've made them in this temporary house and I was impressed with them if I do say so myself.  The whole meal was very warming and enjoyed by all the family.  It felt cosy and comforting which is just what we need, despite this unusual mild weather!

It was the shortest day yesterday, so here's to lighter days ad the countdown to Spring....well, just moving will do!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Supermarket thoughts

During this time of not actually having a home to call our own, it's got me thinking about where to shop once we move.  Of course the whole point about moving is so we can start to live a more thoughtful, self sufficient and healthier lifestyle.  It will take us a while to get that established and in the mean time I will be reliant on the shops as per the majority of the population.

I've shopped at Aldi almost exclusively for the last 5+ years and I love it.  I don't love it in the sense that I rave about it, but I love it in the sense that I know where I stand.  It had the basic foods every week that we use and doesn't flash 20 of the same food in my face to make me choose.  I can be in and out in 20 minutes with a weekly shop in toe.  However I've often wondered if I would like to try Tesco and co, but on those few occasions that I have ventured in there, it's left me feeling stressed and skint!  2 's' that I don't like putting together.

However yesterday I nipped in to Sainsbury's to pick some flowers up for my Mum on my way to hers as it was her birthday and I took the opportunity to be very naughty and pick something easy up for tea.  The shop was well laid out and didn't leave me feeling seriously stressed. 

Weighing everything up, I will continue to shop at Aldi but every couple of months I might have a wander around Sainsbury's if I have the time.

The shopping budget per month on the farmhouse (starting end Jan) will be £300 per month, regardless of how many weeks.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Counting down to D-Day!

We have 3 weeks and 5 days left before we get to move in to our dream home.  We are literally counting down the sleeps!  The temporary accommodation that we're staying in (my Uncle's empty house) is working out okay, but it's trying.  There's very little space, but we have hot water and cooking utensils with a roof over our head so I shouldn't complain too much.

We are almost done with the Christmas shopping which includes a treat to myself of seeds.  My Dad has kindly offered to start some off for me, specifically the onions.  I bought a couple of different varieties:  Onion 'Kappa', Onion 'Bunton's Showstopper' and Onion 'Rossa di Toscana' - Vita Sementi which are a red variety.  He has planted a few of the today and we will stagger more over the next few months.

I have bought DH an incubator for Christmas :D and we can't wait to use it.  Ideally I would buy fertilised eggs to start asap but we couldn't keep them warm on moving day, so really we should wait until we're in.

Monday, 30 November 2015

We've sold.... 6 weeks, 4 days and counting before we can move in though!

I feel like the Tasmanian devil or whatever that whirlwind cartoon is called!  I haven't stopped.  However we have some fantastic news:

What a huge relief.  I cannot beging to tell you how stressed we have been over the last feww weeks or so.  I can feel it melting away though I have been left with the worst headache!

We don't actually move in until 15th January but we are counting the days 1 by 1.  Currently we're living at a family member's house who is working out of the country for the most part of that time, so we've very lucky in that respect.  Having said that it isn't easy to up sticks into temporary accomodation, only to do it again in 6 weeks and 4 days!

So in the mean time, we now need to order the stables, plan the deliveries required to get the horses to the farm and think about what livestock we will want and when. 

I'm going to keep a notebook with me for the next few weeks as I have a feeling "good ideas" will come at the most inappropriate times.

Let the countdown begin!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

I thought I better post something to let you know we haven't dropped off the face of the earth, though at times it's felt like it.  Over the last few weeks to month or so we have been in a state of turmoil with the sale of our house.  The buyer's mortgage had a condition on it meaning they needed an extra report completing on our house.  After lots of sleepless nights, upset and general stress we have finally heard from our buyer that they are now ready to proceed.  Finally!!  We are over the moon!

So now the packing in earnest begins.  We're moving everything from the top of the house to the bottom, specifically the dining room.  It's hard to know what to pack and how - it has been a while since we last moved!  As I'm packing the boxes, my mind if drifting off to what meals we can cook in the farm house kitchen and how we will get on using the Aga.

Hopefully the Christmas decorations will be going straight up if we move in this side of Christmas!  Saves on the dusting anyway :).

Friday, 2 October 2015

The farmhouse we hope to get

Let me tell you a little about the house.  It’s set on a country lane and is the last house on the left (there is a horror movie called that I think).  There are only 3 houses on the lane so it is very private and listening to traffic drive by will be a thing of the past.  Any cars will either be visiting us or lost!  This is great news for hacking the horses out and about the beautiful English countryside.
Speaking of horses, a big thumbs up for this house is the bridleways that surround it.  Literally two metres from the entrance gates you have the start of a bridleway.  At the end of the country lane and across a B road, you have the start of another one.  They both lead to many different routes, so much so you could do a different one each day of the week.  I couldn’t ask for more! 

The house itself is five big bedrooms, more than we ever imagined we’d get and has a huge farmhouse kitchen with the previously mentioned Aga J  The back kitchen window looks out on to what will be a small turnout paddock for the horses and further behind that is the main field which is around 2 acres give or take.  It dosn't have as much land as the first house we looked at, but with good paddock management combined with lots of hacking and indoor stables, it’s more than enough for us.  The house itself is a lot nicer looking than the first house we offered on.  Doesn’t it look pretty?

Hopefully our new house.
Of course it isn’t ours yet, so all of this is still a dream.  It’s a darn good dream to have though. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The long wait

Things seem to be ticking over smoothly and quietly on the sale and purchase.  In the “quiet” moments I’ve been looking at what I can do to help things along.  I say quiet, I never have a quiet moment, everything has to be planned to the Nth degree to fit in! 
So I have been looking at removal firms.  We haven’t decided whether we are going to use one or do it ourselves with a 3.5 Luton van.  It’s the cost that is putting me off.  I’ve had some quotes in around the £550 – 700 mark which is putting us off.  However for the help on the day, maybe it’s a no brainer.

There are a couple of local firms I am getting quotes from who visit the house and once we’ve got them all we can make a decision based on that.
I’ve just discovered the Agaliving website…..I really shouldn’t look but can’t help myself. 

Maybe I should pack a box or two to keep my mind from wandering.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

House number 2!

What a stressful time moving is turning out to be!  I use moving in the loosest of terms as we’re not moving anywhere just yet!  The first farmhouse has fell through as the valuation on it came back at 25k less than we’d offered to pay and the owner wouldn’t budge at all.  So we walked away.  The house was fabulous and the land was everything we wanted and more, but we wouldn’t pay more than it was worth.  There is too much to do to it to bring it up a decent standard of living and we’d be behind before we started financially, should we ever have had to sell it!
So we quickly set about looking for a new house and viewed four in one weekend.  Each viewing takes up to 1.5 hours depending on how much land comes with it, how big the house is, what outbuildings there are and so on.  We really loved the third farmhouse we viewed that weekend.

After much discussion we put an offer in which was rejected, as was our subsequent offer.  A day or two went by and we waited for them to come back and change their minds.  They didn’t.  I had a growing feeling that we were making a mistake by not upping our offer as the house is perfect and the land is pretty near perfect too.  We could afford the asking price but nobody pays the asking price these days, right?
Well after much to-ing and fro-ing, we settled on a figure which was 10k below the asking price and showed at least a small amount of flexibility from the owner.  That was Thursday 17th September 2015! 

Since then we have sat through the mortgage application again, updated the solicitors, took a hit in the form of a £95 fee for work done on the one that fell through, been asked to move out by end of September and had a whole bunch of paperwork sent through, processed and returned.  Of course we can’t move out by the end of September. 
Where do we stand as of today?  Well the valuation is being completed on Wednesday 7th October and then hopefully the mortgage should be issued shortly after that without any hiccups.  The searches have already been issued and should be back in line with the mortgage being issued.  We’re waiting on the property information form from the people who we are buying from.  That will make for interesting reading.

I’m tentatively hoping for 26th November at the latest but wishing for a lot sooner.
Did I mention it has an Aga?

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Whilst we are waiting

We are keeping ourselves busy with natures freebies.  Today we went for our second bramble picking of the year.  We take a good haul but leave plenty for other people and the birds.  They are currently sitting in a bowl of cold water letting all the nasty's float out, before being open frozen and bagged up.  Hubby uses them for his smoothies and I'll of course have to make a apply and bramble crumble with them.  We may go back next week for the last picking.

Rodney and Buster, the two latest additions to the family are settling in very well.  They are 12 weeks old tomorrow and have now had their first injections.  An awful experience for them as the first one is a stinger but it is for the greater good.

In smallholding news, well smallholding to be news, we had a valuation completed on Friday which means we should get the results back by Wednesday.  Fingers crossed they say it is worth what we need for the mortgage. 

I wonder what this week will bring?  Will our buyers finally get organised and get some paperwork through to the solicitor?  Will our purchase property find her onward house as she hasn't as of yet.  She will move in to rented if she needs to but by when is the question!  We are hoping to move on Bonfire night.......It will be a Guy Fawkes we certainly will remember, remember.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Welcome to our new adventure....

We are about to embark on an adventure that we've dreamt about for a long time.  There's never a perfect time to do anything, something can always hold you back if you let it, so we're taking the bit between the teeth and letting nothing stop us.

'We' is myself, Tracy, husband Steven and children Grace and Jack.  It doesn't stop there as we have Buddy, our black Labrador and Rodney and Buster.  They are 2 Jack Russell's who joined our family on Friday just gone.  There are 4 horses and an extended family & friends in that mix too.

Our 'adventure' is moving to a new home, a smallholding.  We have had an offer accepted on our current house and our offer on the smallholding, or farm as the kids call it, has also been accepted.  Formalities have started and the wheels are in motion.  We hope to be in this side of Christmas and can't wait. 

So why don't you join us as we sell our lovely family home on a main road in North East England and move to a small hamlet, still in North East England, where broadband is the latest thing.  All 2mb max link of it.....