Dreaming of Living by the Sea, Whilst I Work

The last you heard from me, July was a busy month and I was generally running around going “Arrggghhh! Stuff to do!!!!”. Halfway through August, that hasn’t changed one iota, as generally the list of Things to Do lengthens, and my freelance work remains (thankfully) steady. A couple of weeks ago, we managed to get away for a day to the beach in Suffolk. Walberswick, to be precise, and although it was a bit overcast and manky, in the evening we were lucky enough to watch the clouds roll away and be basked in the most delicious golden sunlight as we played games on the beach and ate from a barbeque.

The weekend after I went away with some friends for the weekend in Kent; again, we visited the beach – this time Camber Sands – and even though our afternoon jolly there was brief, after eating chips and curry sauce by the beach I was again convinced that it was a place that I needed to be.

Those visits to the beach cemented the idea in my head that I would very much like to live by the beach one day. There is something about the sea that really invigorates me and makes me feel settled and steady. I don’t think that I’d grow tired of it, either. With house prices the way they are, and no change on the horizon, it may well be a pipe dream, but one that I’m happy to hold on to for years to come.

It’s been a funny summer at The Smallest Smallholding really. I haven’t done that much. I always expect myself to be really busy doing this, that and the other but in a way it’s been Rich that’s taken the lead, mowing, cutting, watering, whilst I sit bog-eyed at the computer managing my little online business, writing and helping to organise this conference. There is quite a bit to do, but all in all things to seem to be taking care of themselves at this point – the chillis are slowly growing, the tomatoes are hanging around waiting forever to ripen, and the squash plants have LITERALLY taken over the greenhouse to the point where I can only step inside the door and go no further. I don’t mind really, because I’m hoping that the extra warmth in there will mean my squashes will grow to a good size, and there’s much less threat of frost damage that plagued so many of them last year.

I think with growing, the thing I look forward to most is the eating part. I do enjoy watching things grow from a tiny, inconsequential-looking seed into something quite magnificent, but it’s the part where you serve it up on your plate, knowing where you grew it, how you grew it, remembering all the effort that went into growing it… all that somehow adds to the feeling of satisfaction when you’ve finished. My ‘yields’ are very small, as there’s just two of us and I haven’t yet explored storing my fruit & veg yet (another one on the ‘To Do’ list), but at the moment I’m enjoying using my own garlic, onions and potatoes. These are three staple ingredients in many the easy, rustic dishes that I cook for myself, and there is definitely a difference in flavour there that I’m enjoying.

Our little patch of Smallest Smallholding is also proving to be a gold mine for feeding the rabbits, with grasses, thistle leaves, dandelion leaves and such providing free fodder, helping to keep costs down. I’m hoping that by autumn, with our squashes and leeks and carrots we’ll be able to do the same. Because we are limited on space, I tried to plant things that I would be using frequently, but also plant food that is maybe a little more expensive to buys in the shops. Whereas I can buy a £6 bag of good quality maincrop potatoes from our local farmer, growing them at home would take up valuable space. Leeks always seem to be quite pricy to me, and I use them a lot in my veggie dishes so it made sense to have my own crop this year.

Mum is lucky enough to share a field with her best friend, so she’s been growing her own food on a much larger scale than me. But then, Mum has more time to devote to it, so it works out for her and often, I’ll do a job for Mum – perhaps some painting, or fixing something, or some leaflets for her little business, and she’ll repay me with a vat of soup (or if it’s Rich, often Rock Cakes or Lemon Drizzle Cake) that means we don’t have to pay to feed ourselves for a couple of days (unless it’s the Rock Cakes, because they disappear too quickly). It’s all swings and roundabouts and it’s an arrangement I’m happy with.

So food aside, as ever there is plenty for me to be getting on with, but simply not enough hours in the day. I’ve booked myself off on ‘holiday’ in 3 weeks, just as the kids go back to school. We might head to the beach again with our tent for a couple of days, but there’s also lots of things I need to get sorted here in that time too. Repairing the window frames, weeding, and sorting the Mediterranean area to name just three. We’ve been umming and ahhing about whether to opt for gravel in the Med area, but we think for simplicity and because we have 6 million other things to manage and think about, we might grass it for now, and perhaps think about adding in a gravel path or stonechipped area later on when we have the resources and the time to spare. I’ll plant up my plants specially picked by Stephen from Victoriana Nursery Gardens in to get them established – even restricted in their pots, they’ve definitely been a target for bees and hoverflies this summer, and I’m looking forward to filling in the gaps once they’re in and rooted nicely.

So, in the meantime, it’s business as usual, with work and cleaning and not doing the weeding, and trying to keep the house from turning into a tumble-down fur pit and wondering when the car is finally going to go kaput and making plans for build a new shed because the old one is falling down and making sure we’ve got enough to pay all the bills and tackling the debt and looking for more, more, more work and on and on and on and on…

Comments

  1. Hello again, Lucy

    I’ve listed you as a ‘versatile blogger’ so please feel free to accept and copy/paste this logo onto your blog.

    http://growfisheat.blogspot.com/2011/08/and-nominations-are.html

    If you accept the idea is (I think) to continue the link…

    All the best

    Chris.
    x

  2. Life by the sea sounds good to me!

  3. If you can cope with being a long way from everything, think north of Scotland – low prices, amazing beaches! The growing season is rather shorter, though.

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