It’s weeks since I last posted. I didn’t mean this to be a slow-moving blog, so I shall explain.
We went away. For a month. For our first full-scale, long-form holiday in many years.
We planned and we booked and we packed. We locked up the Mustard Yellow House, turned off the electric system and the gas connections, and caught a plane to … Europe.
Don’t worry, this isn’t an excuse to post travel pics. Well, maybe one.
This trip was a fruition, part of the POINT of changing our way of life — going tiny, downsizing, giving up Stuff in favour of Experiences.
We had no show of taking a holiday like this when we lived in a big house with big outgoings and a mortgage. Even now, it was a big cost that we might not want to repeat yearly — but we managed it.
I came home with some Stuff:
- A cheap puffer jacket (needed for Iceland).
- A woollen hat.
- A wallet, my first new one in 14 years.
- Fridge magnets and small gifts for friends.
Justifiable Stuff, I think! But mostly it was about Experiences.
- Clinging to a courtesy shuttle as it careened around Doha airport.
- Cycling around Berlin.
- Seeing the Sutton Hoo treasure at the British Museum.
- Watching puffins flying to and from their nests on a cliff.
- Playing Cards Against Humanity in a trailer on the isle of Skye.
- Singing Music of the Night in a karaoke club.
- Seeing a West End musical.
- Watching Tom get a fish spa.
- Standing in the stadium where Jack Lovelock won his gold medal.
- Rushing through the cobbled lanes of Edinburgh between Fringe Festival shows.
- Ordering food in my best German, to have an arrogant Berlin waiter reply “Huh?”
And many more.
So that’s why I’ve been out of touch with you, my few readers. Oh, also the chic Euro-cold that moved in to my body three weeks ago and, though it has officially checked out, you could say it has left its tote bag and a charging cord behind (cough).
One Year Of Tininess
While on holiday, we passed our one-year anniversary of moving into the Mustard Yellow House. We are now into our second lap of this life, but on this lap we have a year’s experience, and knowledge of what’s coming up.
I signed up as a speaker for the Tiny House and Alternative Living Conference, as I had last year. The speech was done, the PowerPoint finished — but the Euro-cold climaxed on the very day of my speech, meaning I had to withdraw and spend that day, and several others, in bed.
There was nothing I could do — if I’d tried to get to the conference, I might have crashed off a hill. But it was a shame to miss the chance to mix with like-minded people, learn from them and maybe even do a bit of mentoring.
When the worst symptoms eased, I went out and weeded my garden and put down compost. In the next couple of days I’ll do some planting; I’ve got a gerbera, some marigolds and petunias, daisies and one or two others. These will find space among the year-old shrubs that have thrived and given the garden a sturdy backbone.
If I can get half the brilliant display that the garden gave last year, I’ll be pleased.
My Own Personal Cheeses
I’ve started helping Makahuri’s cheese industry. So far I’ve contributed to a round of Monterey Jack and a solo effort of Farmhouse Cheddar. Today I’ll make some more.
It’s not exactly heavy lifting, but you do have to take care with ingredients and techniques. There’s a lot of waiting — 45 minutes here, 45 minutes there — but I take a book.
Did I ever mention that we have a book club now at Makahuri? It was Tom’s idea.
It works like this: we get 12 copies of a book through a public library’s Book Club in a Bag service, circulate them to a dozen villagers and others connected to Makahuri, and then meet for dinner and discussion in the manor house dining room.
This month’s title is Wool, by Hugh Howey. Last month it was The Power by Naomi Alderman and before that it was Catherine Chidgey’s The Wish Child. (After our book club discussion of Chidgey’s book, I cheekily emailed the author, who kindly responded with a helpful explanation of a plot point!)
One more thing. My old friend Peabody has returned!
He stuck around our house last spring and early summer, then vanished. I wondered if he’d re-emerge in the mating season, and he did!
He sidles up to the fence a couple of times a day for his handout of oats or Weet-Bix or dinner leftovers. If I take too much time getting outdoors to see him, he helpfully lets out a couple of his unmistakable squawks.
It’s good to have him back, and it’s good to be back.