Taking Responsibility For Our Environment

We’ve discovered a whole world of new responsibilities!

Beyond putting our recycling in the right bins, we never had much call to think about our environment when we were living in Guildford, but now that we’re surrounded by such stunning natural beauty we feel a lot more inclined to protect it.

Our land management responsibilities grew somewhat when we moved here. Our home in Guildford was lovely, but the small space that encompassed our back garden hardly took much looking after, let alone having any real connection to the environment. When we moved out to Wales, we were gifted with a good 5 acres of land along with our humble little cottage. Antony made a joke about cutting the lawn being a little more of a challenge, he certainly wasn’t wrong!

Since moving here we’ve had to adapt our lifestyles in response to the new responsibilities that we have, as a result I certainly feel like I’m much closer to the environment than we used to be:

Preparing for livestock

Now that we have a few acres of land to look after we feel like we’ve got a much greater connection with the great outdoors. At the moment our land is sitting pretty as a piece of fallow land, but we have plans to keep a few sheep and goats to keep the grass down in the summer months, so for the time being we need to ensure that the land is in a healthy state, ready for animals to feed off it. We’ll be investing in organic feed and sweeping the land for any foreign objects that might be dangerous for our new friends.

Protecting against invasive weeds and plants

We were dimly aware of how troublesome weeds could be before moving here, we’ve had friends talk about the potential of invasive plants damaging their land but luckily we’ve not had to seek any Japanese knotweed legal advice just yet! Still, it never hurts to be careful, so we’re going to be making sure that our land is free of any nasty weeds or invasive plants by keeping in contact with our neighbours and generally staying vigilant.

Becoming a part of the community

Slowly, but surely, we’re becoming more ingratiated into the community here. We’ve been building trust with the locals here for the last few months, reaching out to them during the week for some basic food stuffs and lending a hand wherever we can. Many of the landowners here have been living here for decades, so they were no doubt a little nervous to hear that some newcomers were arriving from the other side of the country. We know that in order to stay connected with our environment we need to be a part of the community.

Keeping fences and walls in check

Part of our jobs as responsible landowners is to keep our borders in check. Although that might sound like a very American way of putting things, it turns out the more land you own, the more conscious you are of your borders! Keeping our fences and walls in a good state of repair is a responsibility that we must keep, not only to ourselves but to our neighbours too. We might not have any animals on our land yet, but it’s important that when we do, we can keep them within our borders.

The Kids Are Coming Back!

We’re about to receive some special guests here in Wales!

Our kids are visiting for us for the first time, so we’re booking a few activities to keep us busy.

My husband and I don’t need much to keep us entertained. We discovered during our thirties that all we really needed to be happy was to be close to some lovely walks and have a decent pub within walking distance of our house. Our kids, however, are a little different. They loved living in Guildford, there was plenty to see and do whilst they were teenagers, and when they got a bit older they were less than an hour away from London – perfect! By the time they’d left home, we were ready to make a move away from urban life and they offered no form of resistance!

Both of our kids are at university in London, we’ve been trying our best to get them out to see us, but for months now they’ve been claiming that they’re simply too busy. We understand, of course, the’re a couple of young kids living in the city with friends and things to do. You can imagine how happy we were then, to find out that they’d made room in their busy schedule to come and see us! Although we were tempted to take them out into the middle of nowhere for a long hike, we knew they’d probably appreciate more variety.

Thankfully, there are no shortage of fantastic attractions here in Wales, so we ended up creating the quite packed itinerary:

Zip World

Our kids still carry the (emotional) scars of a rather disastrously planned family holiday, no doubt they’re still haunted by memories of long drives, pouring rain and endless trudging; things will be a little different this time! Zip World is one of a few modern outdoor attractions that have made North Wales a real holiday destination in the last few years, a number of pulse-racing zip line rides offer thrill-seekers a truly unforgettable ride through a disused quarry.

Surf Snowdonia

The last thing they’ll be expecting to do is jump on a surf board when they visit us, but they’ll be even more surprised when they found out where they’ll be doing it: in the heart of yet another disused quarry. It seems investors have really learned how to make the most of this country’s rich industrial lineage; this is the UK’s only artificial surfing lake and should suitably blow them away!

Conwy Castle

There are a handful of castles to explore throughout Wales, many of them constructed around about the same time by the order of Edward I. Conwy Castle has been kept in the best shape of all them and provides a really fascinating look into the Wales’ Medieval history. Although our kids have never really taken much of an interest in history, we’re pretty sure they’ll find this as interesting as we do!

Trip up the cable cars in Llandudno

Finally, after our wonderful trip to Llandudno, we’ve decided to take our kids back to this iconic seaside town. We’re sure they’ll find the town itself a little cutesy, but they’ll definitely be impressed by the cable car ride up to the Great Orme.

How We Learnt To Be Country Mice

Adapting to our new home took a little time…

When Antony and I first moved to Wales we were initially a bit overwhelmed by our decision.

After spending most of our lives in Guildford, our sudden arrival in rural Snowdonia was a shock to the system to say the least! We’d pined and planned for years, discussing how we were going to escape to the country, but we’d never fully considered the practical issues that it would throw at us initially.

The first challenge that we had to face was living so far away from civilisation. We’d always considered ourselves as ‘outdoorsy’ types, going out into the country every weekend to take hikes and walk the dogs. Regardless of how long we’d spend roaming through wilderness, we’d always drive back through the Guildford town centre, so that we could grab any bits and bobs that we needed to whip up a dinner for the family.

Having so much wilderness right on our doorstep was refreshing and disorienting at the same time. We were so used to having drive 30-45 minutes to get to our favourite walking locations, that to suddenly be dropped amongst all of this beauty was a little unnerving. Finally, we had all we thought we wanted; we could literally walk out our front door and be embraced by the scenic countryside. However, if we wanted to nip out and grab a pint of milk then the round trip would take us an hour. If we wanted to buy our usual week’s shopping then the entire mission would take us closer to 3 hours.

It quickly became apparent that we’d traded one inconvenience for another and that we’d need to drastically adapt our lifestyles if we were going to live in our new home without spending all our time sat in the car.

These are the things we needed to learn in order to become fully fledged country mice:

Plan, plan, plan!

In order to get things done in the countryside it’s really important to plan ahead of schedule. Without supermarkets and Argos shops on your doorstep, you can’t just pull a fancy dinner for two, or family feast out of thin air! We quickly learned that if you wanted to live a life without incessant drives to town then it was crucial to make a concise plan before the week began. We planned our meals two weeks in advance and invested in a chest freezer, so that we’d never run out of the basics.

Buy as locally as possible

Speaking of the basics, we soon found that we could pick up store cupboard essentials from neighbouring farms. After getting chatting to some of our new neighbours we were able to procure regular deliveries of eggs, chickens, vegetables and even cheese, should we wish. This revelation briefly led us to believe that we could live a completely ‘locally sustained’ life, however this dream soon crumbled when we realised that we couldn’t find a farmer selling Ras el Hanout…

Forget about ‘culture’

Both Antony an I used to be huge cinema buffs. It was an interest that we both bonded over early in our relationship and one that we continued to foster throughout the years by popping into our local cinema at least one a week. Considering that our closest cinema in our new home was a good hour away, this was a past time that we quickly had to give up on. Thankfully, our internet is pretty good here, so we at least have the option of catching up with films via streaming!