I can’t quite believe it’s been 4 months since we took the leap into a nomadic lifestyle. I remember how alien it felt to cycle away from our old house with everything we own loaded into trailers, and how scary it was to know that our meager load also contained our new home. I remember the anxiety of leaving behind our old lives – and almost everything that populated them – and setting out along an uncertain path with no idea what obstacles might be lying in wait. Now though, with the miles and months behind us, all those fears and anxieties seem like a world away. That’s not to say it’s been easy going – it hasn’t. We’ve had torrential rain and leaky tents, dodgy camps, busybodies, tensions with a Host, illness, a broken bone…and everything in between. But it all served a purpose; we learned and implemented changes and improved. Our days are now filled with exploring new things together – places, habitats, ecosystems, communities, ideas, beliefs – and making great memories that far outweigh the few bad. We’ve gained so much more than we left behind, and it’s immeasurably more valuable.
This month has been the best by far and we were all pretty sad to leave our latest Host. We knew this lady was someone special before we arrived, but her collaborative nature and willingness to really share the experience made our stay a truly fulfilling and memorable one. The land was wild and beautiful, the projects interesting and varied, and we had a centuries old watermill to stay in – all the makings of a great few weeks!
By the time I arrived in Wales with Maddy (see previous bone-breaking fun!) Pete and Brendan were already well settled and had built a good dynamic with our Host and her housemate, making it really easy for Maddy and I to just fit right in. The pace was relaxed and the projects cooperative so it felt like a home-from-home, and everyone got along like a well established team – even the dogs were inseparable and ‘walked’ each other! Pete was able to spend his time on the projects that interested him, from saving an old tin barn to learning about forestry and preparing a field for tree planting. While recuperating I mainly pottered around in the kitchen and gardens or
dictated to oversaw Pete in the re-purposing of the old watermill to a cozy space for us to use, and later some land work and even a little painting and decorating.
The children have helped out with everything from weeding to building walls (as usual!) and while at it learned so much I fear their brains must surely explode! Brendan is still amazed that he can do his maths lessons in a barn – measuring angles, weighing and calculating building materials, problem solving – and learn about the science of leverage while helping Dad drive a digger. Meanwhile Maddy has been continuing to take full advantage of her freedom and surroundings to drive her love of writing and curiosity of the natural world. They spent hours paddling in the river, playing in the woods and exploring the area and all the wonderful things it has to offer. They also had the opportunity to join a group of ‘city kids’ from Forrest School Camps, where they took part in a group hike, games and bushcrafts. They shared their story and knowledge freely and surprised even themselves with how much their self-confidence has grown over these past months. It was really great for them to spend a few days with such a big group of children with similar interests, and to see through an outsiders eyes what value their experiences hold.
Next up for us is our annual costal camp…which is always eventful! While we all love the beach and have wild camped these dunes for over a decade our comfort zone is definitely woodland, and something invariably goes wrong at some point no matter how well laid our plans. The week long barrage of rain forecast certainly wasn’t in the plan, but I’m hoping that might fill the ‘well-this-sucks’ quota for the trip…we’ll see! We’ve kept our schedule gloriously flexible for the next few weeks so we can spend as much time sea-side as we like, before leaving Wales for our next stop in the Lake District. This wasn’t part of the plan either, but when you’re lucky enough to get an unsolicited offer of 6 weeks house sitting with a little DIY near the beautiful lake Wastwater, you get super flexible!
As you can tell from our posts, our path is still full of uncertainty and there are obstacles aplenty; but the way we feel about that now is different. Now we know that we can forge our own route through life, that we will overcome any obstacles along the way, and we’ll do it all together. What’s more, we each have at least one moment every day that makes us stop and say ‘Wow. I love my life’, and that is truly irreplaceable.