Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Category: Life (page 1 of 12)

The cleansing fog

A country in lockdown, no one allowed out
Yet people still having barbeques and a kick about
The government says only go out if you’re a key worker
But the builders just won’t listen, “screw this I’m no shirker”
 
Mother nature gets angry and says, “enough is enough”
I’m taking back control, watch out it’s about to get rough
It starts one morning, creeping across the fields at dawn
Covering villages and towns, before any curtains are drawn
 
The cleansing fog spreads from coast to coast, filling every nook and cranny
It engulfs every living thing from the youngest baby to the oldest granny
Some complain that it tickles, others that it chafes
But wherever there is fog the virus is no longer safe
 
Then one day it’s gone, blue sky is visible once more
The country wakes and wonders is it finally safe to go out the front door?
Yes! Lockdown is cancelled, the fog has done its job
Time to get back to normal, but don’t go back to being a nob.
 

A perfect Welsh Airbnb?

Well we think it is. Yes that’s right folks in the months that have passed since my last post we have finally finished our perfect Welsh Airbnb. It’s taken quite a while, featured a lot of head scratching and a good helping of swearing (how can changing a light be so hard?) but we’ve got there. Mostly by ourselves too which I’m quite proud of, we had a plumber help with fitting the shower and an electrician fix the wiring to the shower but that’s it. It may not be perfect if you know where to look but I think it looks great.

What can you expect if you stay?

Tons of original features; the large solid front door, the tiled hallway, the mega high ceilings, shutters on the window and not forgetting that beautiful sink. A big bedroom with loads of room and beds that can be either set up as a twin or a super king.

We’ve set up a kitchenette in the fireplace with a kettle, toaster, fridge and china so you can fix yourself breakfast and snacks. For meals there are plenty of good pubs within a short drive or 1 mile walk into the village.

perfect Welsh Airbnb
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A Welsh adventure

Helllooo – ooo – ooo, is anyone there, there , there? *Taps on screen* So, it’s, ahem, been a while. 2 months shy of 2 years in fact since I posted here, I’ve written a few posts over on my running blog but fair to say I’ve lost the urge to write.

But an awful lot has changed since that last post (still making awesome sourdough though which was the subject of that last post), we’ve moved countries for one. Which is the main subject for this post, I thought it was about time I shared a little update about this Welsh adventure we’ve embarked on and some of the plans we’re making for the future.

I’ve written in the past about the dream of finding a job that isn’t in an office, or a job that is more closely linked to my passion for running, cycling and the outdoors. The Lady of the Manor and I have also always dreamed of owning a smallholding and trying to live a simpler life. So at the end of 2017 as I found myself in a job that I really wasn’t enjoying and was becoming quite stressful we decided to stop talking about the dream and just get on and do it. After all, if it doesn’t work out we could always move back again.

So that’s the reason why we decided to make a change but where does Wales fit in? Quite simply Wales ticks a lot of boxes for us; the countryside is stunning and perfect for running and cycling, house prices are lower if you’re willing to be away from the major south coast cities (perfect for us) but there are still reasonable employment opportunities for us both. What we hadn’t expected to find was such great small towns full of life and independent shops or such a welcoming and fun community, particularly at school.

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Reflections

This is the first time I’ve logged into my blog in almost 2 months let alone written anything, the first time I’ve had both the time and the head space to be able to get some thoughts down in a remotely articulate way. It’s been a busy time; work has been tough, a busy time of the year and I’ve been trying to secure a job change that I’ve been working towards for a while, family life with 3 children and the daily school run routine is always hectic and I’ve been trying to build up my running before my first race of 2016. Combine all that with the festive season and everything that it entails it’s probably no surprise blogging hasn’t been on my radar.

But I do want to take a moment to mark the passing from one year into the next, New Years day is such an arbitrary moment in time, not really different to any other day yet still feeling like a great big reinforced oak door has shut on the prior year consigning to history everything that happened. I don’t do resolutions but I do like to take the time to reflect and remember rather than just hurry into the next year on the conveyor belt of life.

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5 words of wisdom for 5 years of blogging

Two amazing things have happened today; first I’ve remembered it’s my blog anniversary and second I’ve actually found enough time to write a post about it. 5 years ago today I published my first ever post on this blog which feels like an awfully long time ago, a time where I was yet to experience the whirlwind life that is being a parent. I’m not sure I can even remember what it was like to be that person, I wasn’t even a runner at that point which seems weird on its own. Just look how much our family photos have changed (spot the teeny tiny Bracken).

Family photo at Padstow

Family photo at Dyrham park

What I do know is that I started this blog to document life as a dad and to find a more creative outlet, something a career in Finance really didn’t offer. I’d never been a writer, I always thought English wasn’t the subject for me and my strengths lay with maths and science. Maybe they did but I’m glad that I took the plunge to start this blog because I absolutely love the process of writing and expressing myself now. If you could have told my 15 year old self that I would receive an award for writing and it that it would be presented by Katy Hill I’d have told you to piss off. But somehow I did, even if the competition were required to have the same anatomy as me.

The life cycle you go through as a blogger has many phases, none ‘better’ than the others but very different. I loved the early days where parent blogging was growing all of a sudden and there was such energy in the community. In those first months as a blogger you could probably write everyday and not get stuck for ideas, you join in every Linky and meme going and spend as much time reading blogs as writing them. There was also lots of commenting on blogs, oh how I miss commenting. Doesn’t seem to be the done thing now, or at least people comment by tweeting you instead which is more instant of course but doesn’t quite feel the same. In my day…..

After that first frantic phase I think you settle down a bit and focus on the things you’re really interested in, still active but more focused. The only Linky I kept doing regularly was the Gallery I think, not least because I love the challenge and process of either taking or finding a photo that fits a one word brief. But it was as much fun seeing how others had interpreted it as posting your own, plus the lovely Tara is one of the good un’s in this parent blogging world.

The third phase is the ‘I don’t know what I want or what I’m interested so I’m not going to write anything’ phase, the soul searching period where you contemplate stopping. I think I might have hit that around this time last year. You feel a bit lost, many of the bloggers you used to chat with and read their posts have stopped, you’re not keeping up with the latest ‘trends’ (or want to for that matter) and it all feels a bit pointless.

But you come out of it and the other side smells like fresh cut grass, there’s a BBQ cooking in the corner and cold beer being opened. You’ve realised that the meaning of blogging life is writing about what you’re passionate about, whatever that is and by doing that people will read it because passion makes things interesting. You write at whatever pace suits you, you’re in charge of your blog rather than it being in charge of you. I think this is about where I am now, I still love writing I just don’t have much time for it. So when I do write I want it to be about things I love and am passionate about not things I think I ‘should’ be writing about. Family, the outdoors, good food, the National Trust, adventure, in fact all things that were probably in my original about me page when I first started capturing my mutterings.

The National Trust, outdoors, adventure. Perfect day out.

The National Trust, outdoors, adventure. Perfect day out.

Which brings me to my words of wisdom, things I think are important if you’re a blogger. But, here’s some wisdom for free, they’re precisely that, my thoughts, read them or ignore them it’s your choice.

  1. Your readers are the best support network you’ll ever find; for me this applies to parenting but no matter what your topic your readers are the best support and therapy group going. The number of times I’ve blasted a post out when struggling with one of the daily parenting challenges and immediately had constructive and support suggestions. The same goes for the happy moments, readers are there to enjoy them with you, so much so that if you do meet them in real life it feels like you know everything about them already.
  2. Don’t forget to capture the milestones; I love being able to search back through old posts and find little insights into the lives of Matilda and Henry. Things I’d forgotten even happened or when they happened. So much better than a baby book stuck on a bookshelf and forgotten about.
  3. Writing is therapy; I’ve written many posts that have never been published, ones where just the process of writing has got out of my system whatever stress was occupying my brain. Despite my first word of wisdom above sometimes you don’t need to press publish to find the answer.
  4. Blogging can bring some amazing experiences; if you want it to blogging can get you ‘things’, physical things or experiences. Not everyone wants this and I certainly don’t chase after it but along the way we’ve done some pretty cool things as a result of me being a blogger. We’ve been to Bluestone in Wale for a weeks holiday and had fab family days out at London zoo and the Sealife Centre, I’ve been to the Weber BBQ school and enjoyed pizza and beer with some other dad bloggers while testing out gadgets.
  5. The best thing about blogging is bloggers; I have met (in the physical real world sense) some fabulous people as the result of blogging. People who inspire me, make me laugh, wow me, challenge me and most of all bring me happiness. I love that some times people can go from being little faces in your phone to real live faces sharing a drink with you. People like Gemma (who it turns out starting blogging just a few weeks before me), Chris, Corinne, Ella, Sarah and Tom.

If you’re a reader either old or new then thank you, you guys rock. If you’re not a blogger and are thinking it about it then do it, you really won’t regret it.

Repotting and rats

This is the point in the year when my enthusiasm for gardening normally wanes, the enthusiasm of Spring seems a long time ago and for the most part we have yet to reap what we have sown. However this year the enthusiasm for gardening was almost over much sooner; having spent a fun morning with the children planting loads of little pots with seeds we went away for a weeks holiday. Our neighbours kindly watered every day but unfortunately during the week a small army of mice or rats got into the greenhouse and have a veritable feast of crunchy seeds.

Some seeds did survive but quite honestly it was a massacre, I almost threw in the trowel there and then. But we regrouped and decided that it was only mid April so there was plenty of time for more seeds to grow. In they went with a few carefully positioned rat traps around the floor (which incidentally are proving quite effective).

Tomato plants

Fast forward 6 weeks and we’ve now got real signs of vegetables coming; the squashes and courgettes are planted out and have the first few flowers coming, the runner beans are rapidly running up the canes and the first green tomato has appeared. The smell of tomatoes growing in a greenhouse has to be in my top 5 smells of all time, I can’t be the only one to put my hands to my face after picking out side shoots from a tomato plant and take a big deep breath through my nose much you like you do to a babies head. Simply divine.

We’ve thankfully managed to end up with a few different varieties of tomato which I love, it makes summer salads and meals so much more interesting. There are a couple of big beef tomato plants, some cherry tomatoes, some plum shaped yellow ones and also the standard tomatoes that Heinz sent us which might even be doing the best.

All of them are now potted on to bigger pots on the ground in the greenhouse with the help of my trusty assistant and we’re trying to be diligent in picking out the side shoots and generally keeping the plants tidy and growing upwards. I swear the plants grow a couple of inches every day, the do certainly seem to shoot up at this stage don’t they?

Henry planting seeds

Now all we need to do is to remember to water them each day, plant out the beetroot, put the seedlings into bigger pots, plant some more lettuce seed and tie back the raspberries. Easy. I have loads of free time of course so shouldn’t be an issue.

How’s your growing going? What’s the biggest success so far?

Spring time is planting time

Spring time is gradually creeping up on us, it’s getting a little bit warmer and last night the kids and I were able to go outside into the garden after dinner for a run around and play on the swing. I love this time of year as we gradually defrost from the winter and the expectation builds of what’s ahead. I love the newness of everything, the daffodils poking their heads out from the ground, the buds on the trees and all the birds appearing in the garden again.

It also means it’s time to venture into the greenhouse again to sort out the pots and the remnants of last years veg growing ready to start afresh with a new bundle of seeds. The clearing out this year involved removing a rather large (and very dead) rat from a pot which thankfully the children didn’t spot before I managed to dispose of it.

Filling pots ready for planting

The first job was to plant the tomato seeds that Heinz sent us along with the first cucumber, broad bean and beef tomato seeds. We’ve also put some garlic into the raised bed already which apparently likes a cold start to its growing. Matilda and Henry were fascinated with the different shapes and sizes of seeds and never turn down an opportunity to get their hands muddy. I did my very best not to shout at them if they didn’t put the seeds in the trays in evenly spaced rows even if it did push my OCD right to the edge.  After all what’s the point in having a rectangular tray if you aren’t going to plant rows perfect perpendicular to the sides?

We’ve covered them up in the propagators now and I’m crossing my fingers we don’t get a cold snap in the next few weeks. It is still chilly at times but there is enough sun around that in a week or so we should hopefully see the first shoots coming through and we can begin the game of thinning and transplanting to larger pots. I’m hoping the lady of the manor is going to do most of that given all the free time she now has with 2 children at preschool 2 days a week.

Planting seeds in greenhouse

There are of course lots more seeds to be planted over the coming weeks, my rule when deciding what to plant is quite simple; it needs to either be suitable for going on a pizza or being served with it. I’m planning on making full use of the pizza oven this year and will need a good supply of vegetables and salad to go with it, not to mention a few chillies to throw on top.

What about you, are you growing anything this year? What’s your favourite thing to grow?

Guess who got hold of my camera remote?

Guess who got hold of my camera remote?

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