Hi there! I’m Claire and I live near the North Cornwall coast. I’ve been married to Ashley for 8 years and we’ve been annoying each other for nearly 15 years now! I love cats (but Ashley is allergic so I can’t have my own!), gardening and all kinds of crafts. I make greetings cards to give to my family and friends, do a little crochet and I’m trying to learn to sew. Ashley and I both dream about living a simple life – having a small holding, maybe build our own home, grow vegetables and keep a couple of animals. I’m lucky enough to be able to work part time at the moment, and Ashley manages to keep work limited to 4 days a week most weeks. We have made a conscious decision to keep our working hours and outgoings low; what’s the use in having lots of money if you’re not enjoying life?
So these were our girls, the imaginatively named ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’! We bought them as pullets in September 2014 and we had our first eggs from them just less than 4 weeks later! Chickens are such funny companions – they quickly developed little personalities. We gave them as much space as we could in our little garden and took them to our allotment when we could to roam freely. However, we always felt that we weren’t giving them enough space and that they always seemed a bit bored, no matter what we did to try to keep them busy. In April 2016, we decided to give them away to friends that have lots of animals and plenty of room to keep them. ‘The girls’ now have a a large field to roam freely which they share with several other chickens, geese and a couple of Dexter cows! We hope to have chickens again some day when we have more space.
Allotments are like gold dust around our way! Thanks to some wonderfully generous friends, we are lucky enough to have the use of a piece of land just a short drive away to grow some veggies. It is about a quarter of an acre that we share with one other couple. We have space for as many veggie beds as we could need and a sheltered area where we have put up a small poly tunnel-type greenhouse.
The area that we are growing on hasn’t been used for anything before, it was just a plain old field. It is riddled with brambles, dock and other weeds so this (and previous experience digging up a new allotment plot) convinced us to try a ‘no dig’ gardening method. With a little research, we came across a book by a chap called Charles Dowding that detailed this method. It is basically working with nature to mulch the ground and encourage the plant roots and insects to turn the hard ground into usable veggie beds. Over time, the mulching results in less weeds, less water loss, less work… I could go on! So far, it’s working great for us, except we failed to use enough cardboard to completely block the path of those pesky weeds so have to keep hoeing them out. Lesson learned! We decided to mulch the paths too, covering those in a deep layer of woodchip. We are gradually expanding the number of beds and types of vegetables we’re growing – I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going via the blog pages.
We have previously grown vegetables in the tiny front garden of our mid terraced house. I loved having a garden packed full of vegetables growing higgledy-piggledy and adored going out just to potter or pick the odd ripe pea pod or tomato. But 2 raised beds isn’t very practical when you want to provide food for yourselves for more than 2 or 3 months of the year! We also had no space for a greenhouse so I had to wait for the weather to get really warmed up to get sowing those seeds – there’s only so many seeds you can get started on the kitchen windowsill! So when the chance of having some allotment space arose, it’s safe to say we jumped at it!
I enjoy lots of crafts, however I have a terrible habit of starting new projects before finishing old ones. I started making cards for friends and family several years ago – I can spend a couple of hours making just one card! It’s great being able to create a completely personalised card for someone, particularly for a memorable event such as a wedding or christening, or a milestone birthday.
I have also given crochet a go – I could never quite get on with knitting. I made a MASSIVE blanket for the living room which sits on the back of the sofa and is probably my favourite crochet make so far. Its just really simple design but is made with 3 strands of chunky wool so is the warmest blanket ever! My skills haven’t really developed past blankets and scarves but those make great gifts for people!
Christmas 2013, Ashley bought me my first sewing machine and I have made a few bags, key chains and turned up a fair few pairs of trousers (I’m not exactly what you’d call tall!). I’d love to be able to make some clothing items, simple t-shirts and PJ bottoms are on my list of sewing projects to try next. This is the one craft hobby of mine that fits with our ‘providing for ourselves’ ethos, so I need to keep practicing!