Well, my time with Rosie and Nigel on the Isle of Mull came to a close on Monday. We had to rush off to be able to drop another friend off at the bus, which was probably just as well because I might have teared up a little. I still gave Rosie and Nigel a quick hug, Rosie handed me a bar of chocolate from the shop (because that’s just how she is) and we were off, and I was off. On a two day journey, that is.
I made my way from the Ross of Mull to Craignure via bus, hopped on the ferry, waited again for another bus to Glasgow to catch an over night bus down to Birmingham. Which broke down. At 3 am. And we had to wait for an hour and a half in a gas station. It was awesome.
But luckily the next bus I was taking was at 11 am, and we arrived at 5:30 am, even with the break down. So it was no skin off my back, thank goodness. Then came three more bus rides and a car pick up and I arrived at my new location down in Wales at 6 pm the next day. That’s 33 hours later. I was a little hungry and maybe even a little tired, to say the least.
What on earth took so long, you might say? Well, bus times, really. Coordinating them, and dealing with the fact that I could not travel that far and arrive at a decent time (which lead me to spread it out and take an overnight.) And cost effectiveness. That was kind of important for me, too. And while it was tiring, it also wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.
So now I’m down in sunny Wales, as my friend Simon kept teasing. You can guess that as a sarcastic comment, although I’m not sure how he felt justified being that he lives in Scotland. What I was pleased to find when I arrived in Wales is that they are experiencing beautiful fall weather. Brisk, cool, with leaves that are just about to change colors. And seeing as it’s my favorite season, I couldn’t be happier.
Alan and Patricia live in their traditional Welsh long house here in South Wales. They have a huge old reservoir turned garden, tiny Bantan chickens, four ducks, three goats, two dogs and a cat. It’s beautiful here, rustic and full of character. Alan and Patricia are both friendly, boisterous, welcoming people who are ready with a joke. Patricia is a master knitter AND spinner, with yarn to sell in the local shop and three spinning wheels at home. She has already promised to let me have a go.
Never have I been so impressed with a farm’s ingenuity with their resources and methods. Patricia and Alan are a bit like me in that they are unafraid to peak into a dumpster for their next piece of furniture, have large buckets everywhere full of rain water, and have managed to turn their cement reservoir into a garden through the use of old tires from a local auto mechanic. They also make yogurt and cheese from goats milk, make their own bread, and will often take on an orphaned lamb to raise for their own meat. They have been very thrifty in their resources to become as self-sustaining as possible. They are also both retired, which does allow for a lot more time to do things. So if you’re feeling guilty about your own attempts at self-sufficiency, don’t be too hard on yourself.
I’ve already had a fair hand at everything here, from bread making to canning to goat milking. Patricia and I are particularly excited about my progress in milking. It’s not nearly as easy as it looks, which I knew from my attempts to milk a cow maybe six years ago. But within about four days I can nearly milk both girl goats without any assistance. I’m pretty darn excited about that.
I’m also excited to experience Wales. I’ve already been enjoying their accent and the fact that it is truly a bilingual area. All their signs have first Welsch, then English. And they have all been incredibly friendly and welcoming people thus far.
Simply put, I’m looking forward to my time here.