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We just had a couple of weeks that were ... well ... they hammered us.

Night after night of appointments, meetings, trips to take people places - punctuated by a church weekend away which was OK, but not uplifting enough to make up for the fact that that is now fourteen days straight with no real time for house cleaning, menu planning, shopping, proper cooking, as much as a quick walk by way of exercise, or a single hour in the garden.

I am whooped.

I have a lot to do this weekend, but at least I'm at home.

In the middle of all that I got really, really ill with something diagnosed as ibs which is almost certainly not ibs, but anyway, I thought it was going to finish me off.

To add to the joy tonight I had a bit of a tantrum about wanting the plain and simple life back again.  It's there, in our hearts and our intent. We just are so flat out, it's not peeking through.

We can do this.

Welcome to the new look Saturday

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Well, it was inevitable.
This here belt had to be tightened.
So with a weekend where I'm *not* actually going anywhere but church tomorrow morning, for a change, I had a menu plan, a shopping plan, and a list.
After shooting over to do little horse, as H wasn't back until later in the day, I made a run into town to buy a cheap microwave from Wilko.
We haven't owned such a creature for years, but as a fan of Frugal Queen I'm very aware of the power of ding cuisine on busy work nights.
Next to Lidl to do an ultra planned shop, which came out at £38 - we'll see how well that pans out. I'd 'shopped my pantry' first, so a lot of freezer and store cupboard goodies featured strongly.
I've made enough bread for most of the week and frozen one loaf. I've made a huge fruit cake for lunches, and a batch of bread rolls.
For Sunday's roast I've taken a quarter of a turkey out of the freezer. You read that right. One of our turkeys was left after Christmas and was finished so huge it's been frozen as four quarter joints. This was a leg joint and is defrosting in the slow cooker.
I've cleaned up the Rayburn and tonight it was fired up to dry clothes - there is autumn in the air and although I've not had it swept yet, it feels like the beginning of the long run of winter fires.
After making coleslaw and potato salad to go with schnitzels and green salad for supper ( with good old semolina for pud.) I was about whooped and sat down to a secondhand Midsomer Murders and my knitting before bed!

I feel a bit adrift I must admit, I'm so busy I'm not catching a lot of significant or serious news or commentary and I couldn't tell you where we are with Brexit or the new cabinet. I must make an effor to catch up. I shall briefly stop listening to Dave Ramsey on my commute and listen to Radio 4 instead.

New World Order

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So yesterday, we took H to Hartpury near Gloucester, and she began her new life as a university student.
I was less of a wreck than I might have been, as she'll be back on Wednesday for a driving lesson, and up and down frequently to ride her little horse.
Meanwhile, guess who is looking after said little horse?
I left for work today at 7.30 am and didn't get back til exactly 12 hours later, having tended to his lordship mid way on both journeys.
I enjoy this visit into my past life, but it's pretty tiring, on top of my quite newly acquired full time job.
Boo is now deep into personal statement, written work, and history assessment tests. It all feels very different.
I'm giving myself a little time, but I have to reorder things around here to make time for all the productive house and home tasks I love, and rely on to save me money.
Time to garden, sew, knit, and cook must be carved out somewhere.
The finances are pretty rocky after an unusual and hard to track few weeks - we have to get back on top of things!
I'm also now keener than ever to get on track for Christmas - having my precious girl (and next year maybe girls) back home for my favourite season just got even more special.
All this means the time and money commitment for Slimming World has gone out of the window. I must try to keep up to speed on my own.

The girl at Uni - farewell sister selfie

Summer draws to a close

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August Bank Holiday weekend is one of my favourites. This is because I love autumn, and I adore Christmas, and now I can start thinking about both.
After ten glorious days off work, I had to try to get back into the groove, so it was Lidl shopping, menu planning, kitchen , and just a bit of time in the garden.
The plan for today was to strip the polytunnel, but we got nowhere near.
We did however clear a space outside the greenhouse for seed trays - newly planted by my own fair hand with seeds for autumn and winter growth both in and out of the tunnel.

For a second inexplicable day, my lovely photos are refusing to fly from my phone to my laptop, I think Mr Google is out of synch!  But what a lovely day, pottering in the sun, planting seeds of hope, and dreaming of winter and Christmas!

Boo had her first driving lesson today, and, chalk and cheese as ever, absolutely loved it and feels she will be ready to take her test in about ten minutes. H is still arranging re take number three. :(

In the evening, after a late family dog walk in the dusk, we made a start on September's budget, paid bills, and tried to get our heads around the complications of the coming week.

I hope you're looking forward to going back to work, if indeed you are! Have  a great week!

The gentle rustle of a new leaf as it turns

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For the first time in a decade, we went on a family holiday.
Boo left these shores for the first time ever and H for the first time she can remember.
We went back to beautiful Brittany.
There are photos, but I'm having a great deal of trouble uploading them.

To some extent, we lost our hearts all over again to Brittany, and spent lazy hours figuring how on earth we could relocate once the girls are through Uni - but at the moment, that's a pipe dream.

For now, it's back to real life and the very serious business of designing a way forward that is at once frugal, entrepreneurial, simple, faithful, and ... erm ... possible. That's the one I tend to forget!

After a week of profligate (by our own meagre standards) spending on food, and lashings of gorgeous Breton butter, with scant regard for Slimming World! I have to face the Bank Holiday Monday joy of menu planning and frugal grocery shopping once again, as well as trying to make an autumn veg garden a reality, and starting to think about ... yes, I'll say it, Christmas!

I have as yet resisted the temptation to stand on the scales.

Due to the infuriating inefficiency of the library's website, I am no doubt in debt to the tune of twenty odd pounds to the Library. I really do think I will give up. I always have the best intentions, but the website renewal process is very patchy, and when you try to renew at the machine it charges you vast amounts of money before it will let you renew. I wonder why they are saying they have to close Libraries when they rob you blind if you are unable to turn up in person to renew or return a book on its exact date, and have a website which says it has renewed books, but hasn't?

One more day to regroup, and then back into an absolute FRENZY!  Two really busy weeks at work, including three days away at a conference, and a trip up to Bucks for a family event, and then at two weeks today, my first baby flies the nest to go to Uni!

Taking deep breaths.

Still here

Silence has prevailed while I have battled my time management demons.

For the first time in weeks I really took myself to task today and made myself come to terms with the facts.

Despite our increased income, we're STILL battling the month/money disconnect. We're STILL struggling to pay back debt and stay afloat.

The house had descended into the pit and we had become distracted by all manor of red herrings.

In just under two weeks time, we're due to go off on holiday and goodness alone knows how we'll do that, to be honest. But do it we must as we're now committed, but when we get back, oh boy we have to change what's going on around here.

Less than two weeks after we get back, H will be off to uni, so we will be a 'man' down.

My job becomes more and more involved, requires a certain amount of travel, and leaves me a bit pooped at the end of the day. I need to change how I cook, how I menu plan, how we do laundry, how we do housework. Lots of stuff has to change.

Looking forward to winter, we have a fair bit of prep to do. We want to cut back on livestock even more, and make what we do have more productive.

Today I've succeeded in cleaning a lot of the house, making a half decent Sunday lunch out of nothing but bits from the freezer and left overs, actually doing some sewing, and doing some bits of 'work' work.

I do need to come back here more often to record how I'm getting on both in reorganising and in my efforts in extreme frugality.

Sigh. Back to Work

And looking back, the way ahead seemed clear

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A long time ago in a  galaxy far far away ... well no actually in Buckinghamshire, about 20 years ago, to be more accurate.
Before this adventure of being a family began, before we had babies or toddlers or tweens or teens or now nearly grown ups, before all that, there was us.
We still have from those days, twin copies of one book. His and Her copies. I'd like to point out that we do have more than one copy each of the Bible, but apart from that, this probably is the only book we felt we both ought to own.

and it was simple, that was what we were after, that was what we wanted and needed to do, and so - well, we did it. Or some of it. As much as we could, when we could.

It wasn't a political statement, it wasn't an environmental thing, though both those things came into it later. It wasn't in any way sacred, or spiritual, we'd never heard of the Amish or the Mennonites, we didn't see it as an act of faith, though that came later, too.

We wanted to grow food, rear livestock, make bread and wine, and cheese and chutney,  make stuff for ourselves and live simply.

We emphatically did not want to wait until we were 'old' and do this in our retirement. However, when we came close to buying a Welsh smallholding, we bottled it, and later, we made the decision to move down here and rent because we couldn't think of another way.

Since then it's been a business, we've convinced ourselves we were farmers, I've tried to 'be' a permaculture professional, we've tried all sorts of land based livings and mostly failed, and here we are both of us working full time pretty much but still with this rented land, and now, with two nearly grown daughters.

So today we sat down and asked them, 'Where are you with this?' and it became obvious that with plans for university and so much else in the next few years, while they loved their childhood of animals and pony club, camps and dens and free ranging, they now can't be part of it directly for some years to come.

We made a cup of tea as you do, and went and sat in the garden. And then it struck us. Although we're busy at work, we'd still like exactly the same hobby as we had all those years ago. Together, with a few chooks, a dairy goat or two, a few sheep, and a big garden, we'd just like to live that way. The way we always wanted to.

So that's what we're going to do.

Maybe, in the future, if the girls' lives work out as they hope, we'll get some transport, and toddle off to some county shows together. Maybe we'll show goats or sheep or ponies. The biggest maybe of all - *if* Harrie's little horse comes sound after his latest round of treatment, and *if* I can focus and lose enough weight to ride him as well as care for him while she's away at Uni, and *if*  that all goes well and then she comes and reclaims him, one day, maybe I'll have a horse of my own again. That would be something.

In the meanwhile, here we are. Back where we started. Obvious, really,
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