Our first summer in Wales

Our first summer in Wales
This weekend the weather turned to autumn. After a September of warm, still-long days, we noticed the leaves starting to turn and the bracken on the mountain redden. The air felt fresher and we had our first autumn bonfire. The farmer came to collect this year’s lambs for market.

Our first summer here has been incredible. In the heatwave of June and July, even camping in our half-finished house was fun. Our kitchen was the barbecue outside, and we ate raw veg salads picked straight from our new garden beds. We sat out until it was too dark to see, and drank wine looking out on our new patch of land.

It’s been a learning curve too though. Gardens are hard work, particularly when you have one which is already overgrown. Things get out of hand in the space of a week when you can’t keep on top of them. We could easily have spent all our weekends keeping back the tide of new growth without making any real inroads.

Living on what has effectively been a building site has been an experience. Our builders have been great, and have done a fantastic job, but the dust and the mess has been trying at times (if trying is a euphemism for tearing your hair out at the fifth month of washing up in the bathroom sink, stepping around bags of plaster, keeping your clothes wrapped in plastic bags in the wardrobe, negotiating when to be in or out depending on the noise levels).

We also learnt that – as much as you love your house and garden – occasionally you need to leave it for a while. It’s too easy to spend all your time here, there’s always something that needs doing, something that should be done while the weather’s dry. I noticed that going out was something that had to be planned and decided upon (like Green Man or local shows and gardens), then stuck to, otherwise it would be derailed by an urgent need to just ‘fix this one thing’, or ‘sort out this area here’.

We’ve also learnt a bit about each other. How we cope with new things, learn new skills and deal with living in conditions that are less than ideal.

Project Garden: update

Mostly though, it’s been a summer where we’ve been able to say ‘I’ve done that’. I’ve grown three types of potatoes, broad beans, borlotti beans, onions, lost my peas to the sheep (twice), harvested more runner beans than I ever want to see again; I’ve cleared areas of land, sown lawn, cut up trees; I’ve steered a renovation project, learnt about plumbing and boreholes and drainage; juggled frantic periods at work with ordering bathrooms, building supplies; drank more wine that was probably strictly healthy and enjoyed every pretty much every minute.

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