These Blog Posts Brought to you from Scotland, Wales, England, and Belgium

It has come to my attention that I haven’t blogged about our trundles since May, so this post is going to be chock full of photos! Since my last Vagabonding Executive Summary, we’ve toured Scotland, fallen in love with York, and been trapped in Belgium. You can currently find us gorging ourselves on bread and cheese in Paris. Continue reading

Vagabonding: Executive Summary

It’s taken me a long time to get this blog organised. Until relatively recently, it lacked focus. I used to post about my travels as well as my art and pretty much anything else that took my fancy. You may have noticed that the travel blog posts have stopped (as have the flights of fancy). We’re still travelling and we’re still blogging about it, but I wont be posting them here anymore. We have a blog — Technomadics — dedicated to our travels, so if you miss reading about our itinerant ways you can still get your fix.

I do still want to share the highlights here however, so I’ll be posting every now and then with the best photos from our recent travels and links to our latest blog posts. Continue reading

Project-House-Sit-Lygos-Farm-Without-Killing-the-Pets a Success! (R.I.P. 1 Chive Plant)

Spring has sprung, which means it’s time to say goodbye to Lygos Farm and venture out into the big wide world again. We have mixed feelings about this. We’ve really enjoyed working steadily on our projects and all of the comforts of living in a house. We’re a bit worried that going back to live in Nettle is going to feel like roughing it.

We were absolutely spoilt rotten with this house-sit. The home-owners, Anne and Mike, are probably the loveliest people we could have hoped to house-sit for. It’s sort of like having adopted Welsh grandparents.

We set up our workspace in the rustic kitchen — the office at one end of the table and the studio at the other.

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Taking Zoe for a walk every day brought more conversation and quiet time into our daily lives and greater appreciation for the changing landscape. We’ve resolved to continue with our new routine. Hopefully, this is something we will manage without a furry ball of excited energy to motivate us.

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If it weren’t for our daily walks, I wouldn’t have noticed how the landscape takes on different hues depending on the weather, or how the branches of the beech trees turn purple as spring approaches.

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Or just how cute pine cones really are.

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We only left the farm a couple of times. We ventured out to celebrate our fifth anniversary and were rewarded with an unapologetically British meal in an old people’s cafe with floral carpet. Mike’s quiche came with a surprising side of corn chips and my “smothered chicken” turned out to be a very 80s meal of chicken and bacon smothered in cheese and brown sauce (think vinegar with a sauce-like consistency). We picked up some olive and rosemary bread and French brie to take home, which was possibly the best thing I’ve ever had in my mouth. Quite the culinary see-saw.

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We started discussing going back to Australia for the first time since we left. We’ve even decided to get a visa for only one more year when our current visa expires in June, and then head home. This means we’ll only see a fraction of what we intended to when we first set out but we’ve come to realise that we’re perfectly content with that. I wouldn’t have thought my itchy feet were merely a symptom of curiosity before we left but it seems my curiosity about Europe has mostly been sated. I can imagine when it has been completely sated I’ll be perfectly happy to stop travelling. I don’t feel a need to visit a lot of the places that were originally on the to do list because, whether valid or not, I feel like I have a sense of them. I feel like I can extrapolate from the places we have been and imagine what a lot of the other countries are like. This is in no small part thanks to following our friends’ very detailed journal of their cycling tour through Europe!

We discussed buying a house when we get back. I spent a glorious day researching this big new dream and gathering inspiration for interior design. Building our own business felt achievable when our only goal was to cover expenses for travelling Europe and living in a motorhome. This new financial goal makes it much more daunting and serious. I hope that by the time we go back to Australia our business is stable and profitable enough to make a mortgage viable and that we’ve saved a decent deposit. It’s pretty amazing to think that what we first thought was a long-term trip through Europe morphed into time out to build a business and a low expenditure lifestyle that lets us save money!

Despite mourning hot showers, loads of room and plumbing, we are looking forward to finally seeing a lot of the places that were on the top of our list when we first embarked on our travels, yet through many twists of fate have yet to visit — namely, the Lake District, Isle of Skye, and the Alps. Hopefully, we’ll adjust to washing our undies by hand and taking navy showers in no time!

Winter in a Country Cottage in Wales

As I write this, I feel stupidly lucky. This house-sit really couldn’t be any more perfect. It’s quite literally, everything we were hoping for in a house-sit. It’s nestled in a valley amongst gently rolling hills in the picturesque Welsh countryside.

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The property and surrounding countryside has a generous smattering of those trees with the curly branches that I so loved in Cornwall (oaks, maybe?)

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My favourite tree:

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The house itself is a beautiful building of tastefully exposed stone walls, and pretty, organic-looking wooden beams, decorated with carefully-selected antiques and found objects, many of which Mike had found and restored from the bottom of a canal while he had done some dredging work. Every single detail, from the door knobs to the light fixtures are charmingly vintage. A staircase in its own cylindrical stone niche winds up from beside the generously-sized fireplace in the living-room, coming out onto a landing that looks over the study adjoining the living-room, and leading to the upstairs bedroom with a spectacular view out over the valley.

I was never one of those little girls who would fantasise about her wedding and having a family of my own but I did fantasise about one day having my own house and how I would go about decorating it — something I’m still looking forward to! I remember thinking that I would only furnish it with beautiful things. Of course, when I moved out of home and began buying necessary household items this quickly devolved into buying whatever was cheapest and least ugly. Mike and Anne’s home has reminded me of my girlish dreams and proven that it is possible!

The beauty of this stone wall is seriously testing my fidelity to our future cob house.

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One of our biggest hopes for this winter, and indeed our travels through Europe, was to experience snow. Within our first week here, our wish was granted! There was so much snow, in fact, that we got snowed in! There are many fun things about being snowed in, the most obvious being that the coziness factor is high — but possible the best, is having pancakes for breakfast three times in one week because we’d run out of other breakfast-like substances.

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The view from our bedroom window:

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We are feeling very grateful indeed, that we’re tucked away in a cottage with a fire, hot water and a bath tub, instead of poor, chilly Nettle.

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As part of our house-sitting duties, we take the little jack russell, Zoe for a walk every day on the surrounding (now snowy) hills. A tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

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Our other charge, Sooty, has a lovely temperament and has reminded me why I’m a cat person. I feel so chuffed when she chooses my lap for her nap and allows me to stroke her, as she purrs with contentment. I’m reminded of our last foster-cat, Meekha, and that I still want a Burmese cat one day because of her.

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Another of our daily tasks is to feed the birds. My favourite are the robins with their round little bodies and orange chests.

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There are lots of little things about snow that delight us. Like seeing it embellishing a holly tree — such a cliché, yet one we’ve only learnt from pictures.

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Or snowball fights.

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We were particularly delighted when the pond froze over! Side note: totally digging Mike in gumboots.

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This might seem extraordinary to those from northern climes, but even frost fascinates and enchants.

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Here again, there is scenery that reminds me of the landscape paintings of one of my favourite artists, Natasha Newton.

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The snow eventually melted, only to be replaced about a week later with a much heavier, more impressive batch! We awoke one morning to a winter wonderland outside our bedroom window!

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Ant hills and tufts of grass dot the hills with hummocks in a rather aesthetic way, but with snow blanketing their forms and a few brave needles of grass poking through, they take on a kind of abstract, alien air.

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It was already a very pretty place, but snow makes everything prettier.

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This deeper snow makes walking a vertically-challenged Zoe very entertaining. Her gait becomes a bounce like a rabbit’s and she fearlessly leaps and slides down snowy slopes, going as fast as her little limbs will take her. It looks absolutely exhausting and exhilarating. I’m a little jealous, actually. I have slid down a snowy slope, or two or three, on my butt but not by choice and somehow I don’t think it’s quite the same.

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She doesn’t hesitate to plunge her whole head into the snow if she’s picked up the scent of a critter in it’s hidey-hole.

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Other highlights of our adopted country-cottage life include making our own bread with the bread maker, having groceries delivered from Tesco for only £5, and having actual fixed plumbing.

Our time here has also seen the release of our much anticipated iPhone app, designed for independent travellers like ourselves — The Cartographer. Apple featured it in the New & Noteworthy category on the front page of the iPhone App Store for a week in several countries, which was very exciting. We’ve also had quite a few reviews on various websites, all of which have been positively glowing!

I took time off from art to work on the marketing side of launching the app, and have finally gotten back to it after more than a month away! I’ve been absolutely aching to illustrate and paint some owls so I got stuck into a triptych on little deep-edged canvases. I’m planning on giving the blog a lot more love from here on out also!