Sticky Fingers

So, more lessons learnt on the farm….

Scraping mud from paths, digging out killer roots and mucking out the donkey’s stable. All the joys of today. It’s hard work but better than the jobs that were on offer inside. Ironing…. I still hate ironing. It’s funny how I can iron for other people quiet happily but detest ironing my family’s clothes. Since moving to our rural farm, the AWL (Acceptable Wrinkle Level) has changed somewhat. I used to iron knickers and socks…. I know, crazy, I see the error in my old ways. Now, I simply run my hands over an item of clothing and fold it before it springs back to wrinkle city. If this ‘speed test’ beats me, I accept it probably needs ironing.

Anyway, I asked Charlie to start mucking out the donkey’s stable whilst I scraped mud and dug out roots from the drive. We are determined not to resemble the farm on Nanny McFee 2. We were literally living in a mud bath. Charlie had a late night out with his mates last night and was feeling tired. As he borked and complained about the smell in the stable, I made comments like “we live on a farm now Charlie, you need to man up”. I got sick of his moaning so suggested that I muck out if he done the wheel barrow runs. He gratefully accepted my offer.

We cleaned the stable out of its ancient ‘dry’ horse manure before we got the donkeys in December. Hard work but not too nasty. The stables have these nifty grids that sit across a sunken area on the floor. So, donkey wee can drain away whilst the poop and straw can be mucked out on top of the grid….. in theory. So, since December we have been mucking out the top of the grid, making sure the donkeys were nice and clean and cosy on a night when we brought them in. However, the stable floor began to clog up and stink. So, needed the grids lifting and cleaning.

OH MY GOD!!!!!! I think it literally smelt like hell. We lifted the grids up for the first time since December. Moved them to the side as we got covered in what I can only describe as a donkey poo and wee smoothie. We then realised that the drainage pipes that were supposed to drain away the wee were completely an utterly blocked. I realised this as I stood in about 3” of donkey smoothie. I got the shovel and lifted what I could but this released the vilest smell my nostrils have ever been exposed to. It literally burnt the hairs in my nose.  It was at this point I apologised to Charlie. He wasn’t being dramatic, he had been crying inside too…

We needed to unblock these pipes. We shoved metal prongs up the hole and used the hose to attempt a flush out. Charlie learnt a valuable lesson at this point. Bless him. He was really getting in there when he unfortunately experienced a ‘splash back’. He suddenly jumped up, holding both hands over one eye as he yelled “Ive got piss in my eye”. It was some moment. Once he realised that he wasn’t blinded, I said, “it’s not often someone can say that”. Thankfully, he laughed and acknowledged that this was one of those ‘character building’ moments. He took it in his stride (or eye) and carried on.

It was still blocked!!! I suggested that we try the prong at the other side. Charlie handed the metal prong to me. With no words, he successfully communicated “I’m not going in that pit of hell”.

As I scraped it through the brown toilet smoothie, I realised that finding the hole on the other side was going to be difficult as not visible. There was only one thing for it. I put my glove covered hand in the 3” smoothie to feel for a hole. I run my hand along the side then down the middle of the stable. I could not feel the other side of the drain. Charlie was borking outside the stable as he watched me. Then, my hand started to feel sticky. Sticky fingers. I pulled my hand from the brown, stinking smoothie and realised that I hadn’t changed my lovely fabric gardening gloves to a more suitable rubber/water tight/toxic glove. I was covered in the contents of a donkey’s toilet up to my elbows, in my nails and with some smears across my face as I had wiped away hair from my face. I was minging. I announced another lesson learnt; Wear appropriate clothing.

It was then. We remembered that Stuart was in the house, fixing the shower. So, no shower. It could be argued that this was the most disgusting and bacteria ridden we have EVER felt. I eat my words…… “We live on a farm now Charlie, you need to man up!!!!!!!”

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Out of Hibernation

A very long winter indeed.

We have had a difficult winter here at Curraghduff farm. Winter has never been my favourite month, but this, our first year on the farm has definitely been ‘character building’. With the sudden loss of one of our alpacas (Clodagh), a tree falling on the house and the most rain I have ever seen in my life, we could either give up or get stronger.

We seemed to have a weather warning every day. The locals assure me that this is unusual and agree that it’s been a difficult winter. I just hope they are being truthful and not simply saying what they think I want to hear. The problem with weather warnings being so common is that you begin to be complacent about them. I remember our first ‘Red Warning’ of Hurricane Ophelia. We were so organised, prepared and scared but thankfully it was quite uneventful here on the farm. We later had a few ‘amber warnings’ for wind and rain but we didn’t take much notice as a ‘red’ wasn’t up to much. I remember my mum ringing me to tell me to keep safe as she heard about the weather warning and I was like “don’t worry mum, it’s only an amber”. Oh, how I ate my words at 01.30 hrs that night, when a tree decided to fall onto the house leaving a pretty impressive hole in the bathroom roof. I don’t think I ever felt so scared as I watched the trees that night swaying as if to taunt me. As a result, some lovely tree’s surrounding the house have had to come down for safety reasons. On a positive note, we have lots of wood to keep us warm and to be creative with.

The farm has resembled a bog throughout December and January. Wellies were a necessity to get from the house to the car. Initially we laughed at the farting noises it made as we walked, but this has come somewhat dull now.

SNOW. I remember being told that “it never snows in Galway”. Well it does!!! It did look really pretty to be honest but not so much fun when you have so many jobs to do outside.

Anyway, Its February, days are longer, birds are singing and I saw some daffodils in Oughterard. I always feel happy as soon as I see the early growth of daffodils with the little glimpse of yellow to tease you before they erupt with bright yellow splashes of colour. I can’t wait for the spring and summer. To see the variety of colours of flowers growing in gardens, to feel the warmth of the sun on your face and the pleasant breeze in your hair (not gale force winds that blow trees over).

It feels like we have been hibernating from the world over winter and now we are starting to wake and feel hopeful for the year ahead. We are excited about our alpacas hopefully giving birth to their baby cria in early summer and we have been doing lots of research in preparation for this. We are keen to get another shelter built so we can have our two donkeys out on the field most of the time. They love it out there. Doris is so loving and Finn is so cheeky, a beautiful pair. The chickens are keen to explore the farm more. Gilly I so brave, we find her off road and wondering down the lane to explore her surroundings. The others watch and wait for her to return. We are looking forward to introducing bees to our farm in hope of some lovely sweet honey and lots of bees wax to be creative with.

We put glamping on hold as our money had to be prioritised for essential repairs. However, we have started to think about it again this week. I’m seriously thinking about Tipis at the moment, an off grid/eco experience; but this could change. So probably looking at 2019.

Our next step is to develop our vegetable patch and put up a Polly tunnel. This will save us money in the long run and I really do miss picking veg in the garden for dinner.

Onwards and upwards at Curraghduff Farm.

A little Update:

It’s been a little while since I posted on the blog. I suppose no dramas have occurred for a little while. This may be due to us getting better at ‘the country life’ or just pure luck; I’m guessing the latter.

So, I sit looking at the screen with my hands hovering over the keyboard and pause to think “what has happened over the past few weeks”. Well, we have our gorgeous Alpacas living with us. Agnes, Moya, Mary, Clodagh and Roisin. They have taken a lot of our thinking space since they arrived as we are completely new to this. Many times when talking to the locals, they say “Alpacas…. Why? and then usually followed by “So you have a farming background then.” They are genuinely interested in the Alpacas but gobsmacked to hear we have absolutely zero experience. My response is much the same every time; I laugh, acknowledge how crazy this may seem, then ask, why not?

One of the Alpacas (Moya) is prone to an upset tummy and she has had us puzzled for a little while as to why. We have become obsessed with Moya’s poo (this is a little weird as we have a lovely friend called Moya, if you are reading this, we don’t mean you!!) We analyse the consistency, discuss it over dinner and have regular conversations with other Alpaca Lovers about poo. I suppose it’s like becoming a new parent. You really do get obsessed about this stuff. You bore your childfree friends as they don’t find this stuff interesting and you actually forget what you used to talk about. However, you do love the sense of having a shared interest when you find someone else who is going through the same stuff, even if it is Alpaca poo. Maybe the Alpacas are bringing the Newton’s closer together as we experience this journey together. Anyway, if you’re interested, Moya’s poo is fine today!

Counting sheep!!! Not in our sleep. A few local farmers have sheep nearby and they seem to like our place a lot. It is not an unusual sight to see 6-8 sheep wondering up your path, then getting a fright when they see you and then make a run for it. Seriously, they go crazy. You think they would just turn around and head back to where they came from. No. Two run to the left, some head back, some go to the right and some just simply jump over the wall into the garden. So, we are no on first name terms with a few farmers now as we contact them often to let them know their sheep are here.

I was delighted to hear parkrun was starting in Oughterard. This was something that I loved back in England. Although I did have about a year’s break from it before we moved. I have loved volunteering again and had forgotten what a friendly atmosphere parkrun has, no matter where it is. I was inspired and after the first morning volunteering, I came back home and put my running shoes on. I ran 2.5 miles. It was not pleasant at all!!! I stopped running over a year ago as I was plagued with injuries. I ran so I could eat cake, but I forgot to stop eating cake when I stopped running. Therefore, 3 stone heavier my body did not like running. My body actually wobbled when I ran and my hips screamed at me to stop. I am currently reviewing my love for running, it’s like when you see an old boyfriend that you completely adored years ago and now you think “what was I doing”. I’m still volunteering though.

Waiting for Escape to the Country. I’ve had loads of friends asking when this will be aired. Its looking like early next year now. I have been promised an email to let me know near the time, so I will let you know.

I must say, this new life is rather fabulous. We might be skint but we have time. I never really appreciated time before. I know I often complained about not having enough of it, but on reflection, I would have just filled it with something else. Time to notice things around you is precious. I’ll be honest, its took a little while to get used to it, that nagging feeling of having 100 things to do and there you are, just looking at a flower, it’s quiet conflicting and guilt provoking initially. Having time to reflect and be mindful of what is around me is the most important part of this whole move for me. I tend not to want THINGS as much; dishwashers, new clothes, gadgets and all those expensive things that I believed where making my life easier. In actual fact, they simply provided a short distraction from what I needed and required me to work a stressful job to afford them. I have much less money and ‘things’ now but I am happy. For example: I always needed a dishwasher to save time and the thought of not having one freaked me out. We don’t have a dishwasher at home now, and guess what, Stuart and I actually talk about stuff when we do the dishes. Time = Happiness.

Anyway, it’s getting dark, so I’m going to put the hens to bed and check on the girls. Bye.

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Charlie took a pic of Moya

 

 

A Lesson Learnt

I was blissfully baking in the kitchen, Nora Jones playing in the background, apron on and dogs sleeping next to the Stanley. I have now bonded with the oven and as a result, I have not needed to use a ‘cake disaster’ to fuel the fire. Hence the need for a stable full of wood and peat. It still amazes me how long that carrot cake burnt on the fire. It kept a family of 3 warm all evening.

Anyway, there I was in the middle of making a Dorset Apple Cake, my favourite at the moment. Tim came to the porch and shouted, “Ruth, I need your help for a minute”. Stuart and Charlie were out at rugby training, so I was his only option. “One minute” I replied as I was just putting the cake mix into the tin. I put the cake in the oven, put my wellies on and walked down to the shed with apron still on. As I walked to the shed I wondered what I needed to hold this time. I have become the “Master Holder’ of all things. I take this role rather seriously. It takes skill to hold things correctly whilst the others measure, hammer or determine if things are level. So, as I walked into the shed, I waited for a clue of what needed to be held. It wasn’t obvious this time.

“Ruth, I need you to drive the tractor forward so I can loosen this attachment”. I laughed initially but then realised that this was not some joke and that Tim actually wanted me to drive the tractor forward. “But, I, but,” I stuttered. I’ve never even sat in the tractor never mind make it move. I can drive A CAR but a tractor looks so very different. I started to feel a bit sick and then realised that I probably hadn’t took a breath for a while as I considered the challenge ahead.

I suddenly felt pathetic. I am an independent woman who can face any challenge that comes my way. Yes, I can hold things but I can also do this!!! I climbed up into the seat and looked at all the levers and pedals. This really does not look at all like a car. “Okay Ruth, put your foot down on this pedal and gently lift it up. Just don’t take your foot off quickly. I only need you to move forward a few feet” Said Tim. “I’ll be behind the tractor so I can loosen off this attachment” he said. “Okay” I attempted to say with confidence but I’m very sure I didn’t convince anyone!!

So here it goes. I lift my foot up gently. Nothing happening, nothing happening, then…. Suddenly my bloomin foot slipped of the pedal in my wet wellies. The tractor jumped forward, jumped back, it done the Hokey Cokey and almost turned around. It’s fair to say I panicked and was somewhat delayed in putting my foot back on the pedal.

Everything stopped. My legs like jelly and sick in my mouth. I couldn’t see or hear Tim. “I’ve killed Tim” I thought. I didn’t dare lift my foot of this awful pedal to go check on him. “Tim” I shouted “are you alive”. Then I heard him laugh. He walked to where I could see him, informed me that he had managed to loosen off the attachment and that he was very much alive and not injured in any way. Seems that the only thing injured was my pride.

As I walked back to the kitchen in my wellies and apron, my legs were like jelly and still having to remind myself to breath. I realised that I had learnt a valuable lesson. When someone asks for help, check out what they want you to do as you may not always be the right woman for the job….

 

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Charlie Now takes on tractor duties thankfully…

The Hurricane

 

A few people have asked me to write about our experience of hurricane Ophelia as they are interested as to whether we had much damage. So, here is the Newton Family’s experience of our very first hurricane encounter.

I first had news about the hurricane a good few days before and I didn’t really pay much attention to it to be honest. I suppose I assumed it was going to hit some other part of the world or country but the news reporters were just politely informing us about it. It wasn’t until the Sunday when the realisation of a hurricane actually heading towards Galway on Monday sunk in. “There’s a bloomin hurricane coming” I suddenly blurted out to the breakfast table. “Where have you been mum, it’s been all over facebook” Charlie mumbled. Well, I think that’s what he said. I’m really struggling to understand my 14year old son at the moment. I’m either going deaf or his mumbling has hit some new level of teenage communication. I sometimes find myself nodding in response to something he has said, but then he looks towards me in a way that suggests this was something I most definitely should not have nodded at. However, it amazes me when a group of teenagers communicate together. It’s like a melody of grunts and mumbles and they all seem to know what they are saying, like, no-one gets the look I get when I try and interact with this species.

Anyway, I lost track. Hurricane… The hype grew about the hurricane and I started to panic. We took the necessary precautions; ensured we had wine, vodka and tonic. Food and water. (actually, in that order!). We tied down things that might blow away and locked up for the day. We were informed later in the day that schools and most businesses would be closed on Monday for safety reasons.

My imagination started to go crazy. Thinking about films I had seen in the past, like Twister, Storm Chasers and Wizard of OZ… Would the cottage survive this, would we wake up in Munchkin Land and would we see sheep flying past the window? As it got windier and wetter, I watched the trees next to the cottage, feeling sick at the thought of them crashing down on our roof. I banned Facebook as images of school roofs were captured flying past neighbourhoods in Cork. We would just have to snuggle in and ride the storm.

I suddenly started to panic about the chickens. Would they get caught up in the eye of a twister like on the tele. Me and Charlie went out and attempted to put them into the coop. This resembled many scenes from before as I ran around trying to reason with them. Jenny went in no bother. We seem to have a connection since she pooped on my knee. I suppose that would bring anyone together, it must have been a sign of affection or something. The others finally got sick of the game and tootled up the ladder into the coop themselves.

We were in. Everything done. We waited and waited and waited. I kept making comments about “there’s worse to come” and “we’ll be glad we took precautions”. Then Charlie walked into the living room and shared “Its passed us”. “Eh!!!” I classily blurted out. He showed me the storm tracker he had on his mobile. It seemed to hit Galway and narrowly missed Oughterard.

So, The Newton experience of the now ex-hurricane Ophelia wasn’t filled with drama thankfully. No damage and no stories to tell the grandkids. It was a similar experience to weather on the Headland in Hartlepool back in England.

Alright, to be fair, I might have put my big coat on….

The Chicken and the Nurse…

My chickens are wonderful. We have 4 freshly laid eggs every day which are delicious. The chickens are somewhat spoilt as they enjoy regular treats including sprouts and roast vegetables. I gave them a few strawberries the other day and they went crazy for them. Gilly came over first as usual to see what I had brought and had a little peck. Linda realised that Gilly liked strawberries and therefore not something to miss. Linda ran over to Gilly, stole her strawberry and ran off. Gilly was not amused and ran after her, they ran around the chicken coop several times before Gilly realised I had more. Jenny and Joy however, are not daft. They let the other two run around like headless chickens (oh, I don’t like that saying anymore) whilst they tucked into the remaining strawberries.

They seem really settled but I’ve noticed that they don’t want to sleep on the perches like our hens back in England. Instead, they all squish into the tiny egg box area of the coop. I tried to lift Joy onto the perch the other night but she just looked at me as if I was weird, jumped down and then got on top of the 4 chicken ‘pile on’ in the egg box. “I wouldn’t like to be the chicken at the bottom” I thought.

Anyway, I noticed Jenny taking her time walking down the ramp this morning. Usually, Jenny is first to get a drink of fresh water and scratch the floor for bits to eat. I looked at her movement and it seemed that she couldn’t see out of one eye. Despite this, she managed to find her way down to the water and had a drink. I went back to my jobs but kept an eye on her. She was definitely feeling sorry for herself and not on form. I decided that my nursing skills could be used on chickens. I mean, there must be some transferable skills from being a Mental Health Nurse to a Chicken Optometrist !!!

I got some cotton wool and soaked it in cooled boiled water. I went down to Jenny, picked her up gently and sat down on the log that I once fell back on with Gilly. Jenny was really calm as I stroked her. I compared both eyes and bathed them with separate cotton wool balls. Her eye didn’t look infected, just really swollen and most definitely effecting her eye sight. I wondered whether she had fell victim to a peck in the eye when they all pile on top of each other at night.

We had a moment. Jenny made gentle clucking noises as I stroked her. I found myself answering her as if she was talking to me, and even more concerning, I knew what she was saying. I stroked her head and she closed her eyes and rested her head on my arm. A sudden sense of bonding took over me and with it came guilt. As every mother knows, they constantly feel guilty as they raise their child; “am I doing a good job, is it my fault, could I have done anything differently”. I hoped that Jenny would start to feel better and respond well to my attempts of caring for her.

Jenny opened her good eye and looked at me slightly differently. “Have you had enough cuddles” I asked. I put her onto the ground gently in attempts to avoid a good pecking. And, there on my lap, Jenny left me a little gift. It wasn’t an egg and let’s just say, Jenny is most definitely NOT constipated!!!

Picture Perfect

My mum and Aunty Jenny came to visit and met the hens that were named after them. Jenny took this amazing picture of Lough Corrib. It is fabulous in my opinion and a perfect example of why I fell in love with Oughterard Co Galway 🍀🍀🍀20171010_171320.jpg

Chicken Run

We decided that it was time to get chickens as we missed the lovely fresh eggs we had in England. Stuart, Tim and Charlie had started the fencing for an enclosed area near the orchard, before Stuart had to return to England to see his mum. I set off to work on the Friday and suggested to Tim that he start making a chicken coop. When I got back at lunch time, he had made great progress. Up-cycling is fabulous. We didn’t spend a penny or a cent on the coop apart from some cheap paint to protect the wood. We all helped out and made (in my opinion) the best bespoke chicken coop ever!!!

Me and Charlie got up on Saturday to go to Maam Cross Farmers Market to buy some chickens. I hadn’t been before so wasn’t sure what to expect. “Don’t embarrass me Mum” grunted Charlie. Keen to get there in time, we set off on the Clifden road. Unfortunately, we got stuck behind a tourist bus driving seriously slow. You can’t blame them, it is an amazing site driving through the Connemara mountains. Charlie was getting rather impatient as he was sure we were going to miss the market. We arrived and whilst looking for a parking space, we noticed the ‘Chicken Man’ packing away his goods. “get out Charlie and tell him we want chickens”. Charlie jumped out of the car and I went looking for a parking space. As I walked back to the ‘Chicken Man’ box in hand, Charlie had already picked 4 lay ready hens. Chickens packed safely in the box, spent up, we decided to go straight home.

The chickens looked fab in their new home. We decided to name them after my Mum and Aunties (Gilly, Jenny, Linda and Joy). They soon settled and we got an egg almost immediately. Gilly was rather flighty though as she flapped her wings and hopped along the grass. Suddenly, she was on the wrong side of the fence. Me and Charlie ran to her in attempt to get her back on the right side of the fence. And there we were, running around like headless chickens. Gilly was trying to get back in but she just kept hitting the wire fencing and avoiding us with her life. Eventually, I managed to catch her and return her to her hen friends.

Charlie couldn’t settle now. He was worried about leaving them in case they escaped again. “We need to clip their wings Mum, then they can’t fly over the fence.” “And how are we supposed to do that” I replied. Google is amazing, how on earth did people survive without it. I pretty much done my degree without stepping into a library. We watched a YouTube video a couple of times, then armed with some technical equipment (scissors) we went back to the coop.

The first two (Jenny and Joy) were easy to catch. They were perfect to practice on as they snuggled into my lap whilst Charlie carefully cut away the necessary feathers. Linda was a little harder to catch but once snuggled in she was great. It was like we were professionals.  Feeling proud of our achievements and confident with our technique we went to get Gilly. However, Gilly had other ideas. Running around like some 1970’s comic sketch, we tripped, fell, slid and become very flustered. Then I got her, I was knee deep in mud but I got her. “We need to settle her Charlie, she’s stressed”.  I attempted to stroke her like the others but I got a few pecks. I decided to sit down on a log and try my hand at some ‘chicken whisperer skills’. “I can do this” I thought. I sat slowly onto the small log trying not to startle her. As I sat down, the log lost balance in the mud and tipped back. I went back with it, bum and back squelched into the mud, legs up in the air and chicken looking at me as if to say “who the hell has adopted me, take me back”.

We done it…. eventually. I love my hens and I must say the feisty Gilly is starting to settle. I just need to prove to her that I know what I’m doing. I am getting good at blagging things after all…

The Unexpected Visitor

I was worn out. The three of us and the three dogs all in the living room watching The Great British Bake off. I was in my pyjamas really trying to stay awake to hear who was the Star Baker on Pudding Week. I was that tired that I really didn’t care who was sent home this time. The boys were going to watch some adventure island thing next and I knew I was going to bed, so was feeling tiredly impatient for Paul Hollywood to stop with his hand-shakes and get off my screen.

It finally finished and I could go to bed. As I sat up the dogs began to bark. “stop it” I said, “I’m only going to bed.” “No, there’s someone outside” said Stuart. I looked out the window. I saw darkness. It gets so dark here because we don’t have street lights. I couldn’t see anyone.

Then suddenly a bright light then a figure appeared at the window, wearing a head lamp, smiling and waving at us with both hands. It was so freaky it could have been a scene of a horror movie. You know the type. Family move to a remote cottage, all fine to start, then strange things begin to happen. They meet the neighbours and then discover they all worship the devil or something. “Stuart, do something”. Stuart reluctantly got up and went to the door. The waving figure walked away from the window and towards the door. Me and Charlie stayed on the couch and tried to listen to the conversation but it was just mumbles. “Ruth, come here” said Stuart.

I went to the front door. “Hi” said the unexpected visitor. There stood an innocent enough looking lady, dressed for walking with a head torch on full beam “I live further down the lane and often go for walks in the night. I thought I’d let you know so you don’t get startled”. I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I introduced myself and joked that I had been somewhat surprised by her arrival. She was really lovely. We chatted for a while before she went off on her own, in the dark with her headlight on. Stuart closed the door and we stood looking at each other. “Did that just happen” I asked Stuart. “I think so” Stuart replied. We shared how freaked out we had been and then laughed at how bizarre the whole experience was.

The boys sat down to watch their program and I made sure to close the curtains before I went to bed. I didn’t want to see any other unexpected visitors peering through the window!

Soggy Welly

Charlie wanted to go for a walk and explore one of the fields a bit further away from the cottage. The River Field is a little walk away right at the bottom of the lane and really pretty. We not sure what we are going to do with it as yet but Charlie has plans on building a house on it once he comes of age.

I tagged along as I fancied a walk too. It was nice to spend some time together that didn’t involve pulling out brambles, raking up leaves, building walls or moving logs. As we walked along the lane we chuckled about the time the dogs ran after the car. Charlie asked if I had any other ideas to add to the blog. “I’m not sure” I replied, “nothing funny has happened this week”. We reached the end of the lane and took a left turn onto the River Field. Charlie began sharing his plans of the ‘Big Build’ as he considered where the house would be, the drive and the gardens.

The ground was really wet as it had rained through the night. The puddles weren’t too bad though. The neighbouring farm had their cows grazing on the land recently and we could see evidence of this as we avoided a few splats. We decided to continue on and head towards a shared piece of land. As I walked I looked up at the trees, totally loving the fact that I lived here. Then suddenly…. squelch!!!!!

In what seemed like a little puddle, as I was looking up to the trees, my right foot completely sunk into the ground reaching the top of my thigh. Doing the splits, my left leg decided to rest upon firmer ground. I looked absolutely ridiculous. I suddenly panicked as I was convinced I was going to drown in this sinking mud!! I reached for some long blades of grass in attempts to pull myself out. A flashing image of The Never Ending Story came to mind. “The horse never survived the sinking sand, maybe I wont.” I was distracted as I heard something, Charlie almost wetting himself with laughter. He had sunk just to the top of his welly and managed to jump over to the other side of this death swamp, that had a strong smell of cow poo. I realised I looked like a stranded whale on the shore.

Determined to get out I pulled my leg and lost my welly in the mud. I army crawled cross the wet grass to safety and after a few big breaths I pulled my soggy welly from the mysteriously deep puddle. At this point I was able to laugh as I poured water from my welly and remembered that this time I had my mobile with me. This meant that I could take photographic evidence of this traumatic experience as people have asked if my blogs are true. They are very much true unfortunately.

I put my soggy welly on, squelched along the lane back to the cottage and said to Charlie “I’ve got something to write about now!”