We're still in Wales, just moved along a bit further to Brithdir Mawr. This is a beautiful place, and as well as being a fabulous community (with a great family space vacant!) seems to be almost a community of communities, with other places nearby. We haven't seen the Roundhouse, but we've been having a lovely time just being here.
We've been a bit lax on the work front- the work days are short as only one meal is provided, and not every day ( with plenty of garden produce to self-cater from) . This has been perfect for us, me especially. Last week I was very tired and out of sorts near Llannelli, but when I got here I just couldn't find any energy at all. I spent most of the first day in bed, and the second day, once I tried to get moving I managed to slice my hand with an axe. A prime example of stupidity- which I think was more than partly due to still being exhausted. The damage done was minor ( much more wafer thin slice of meat rather than a bacon rasher) but I'm fairly awful when its my own blood, and on top of that the bread I was trying to bake (chopping wood for wood-fired range to bake bread) didn't rise either. Not a great day.
I wonder if some self- preservation was going on though, as I struggled to wear a gardening glove the following day, so I played with the girls instead of outside work, and got some onions plaited. We all had a good time, and giving myself a break from work really has helped me feel better. Sunday evening I realised I felt human again!
The gardens here are wonderful- different people have patches they are responsible for, and members of the community have to put in a certain number of hours each week. This community isn't a 'buy-in' one, and I realise that appeals to me much more than having to buy in.
I love the electricity is from the sun, the wind and the water here. The water is heated either directly by the sun, from excess other energy and by the woodburner that communal meals are cooked on ( chef gets first dibs on a bath!). This is how we hope to power our home one day- they already have it up and working.
They don't choose to run a fridge, which I'm really quite interested in. Currently we are running a fridge in the van, mainly for milk and cheese. The bottling - 120 jars of passata last year- sounds fascinating. I love preserving, but can also see how it could easily become a chore. Gardening and preserving as a community, the teamwork of it- is something I want to investigate further even if we find our perfect small holding. I had an electronic 'conversation' with my friend Gill about a communal hand-powered laundry, and its all these potential 'chores' that could be so pleasurable if shared.
When Little One was small a friend started a group of us regularly meeting up- we called it 'Tribe' in the emails. The idea was we weren't to be 'guests' in each others houses, but be a group of friends keeping and eye on the hosts child/children so a few jobs could get done and a natter as well. Well, it was a lovely idea, but my house was too small (to fit the group in!), and anothers too far, and we soon ended up always going to the same friends house and she ended up hosting us, without us really helping out. I think it was a great idea though, and wish we'd managed to make it work.
I really like that there is personal space for everyone at this place, it might be in the house, across the courtyard,in the garden, but it can be more than just a room or two off a corridor, which is what I've seen elsewhere. A little living as well as sleeping space that is private is what seems to be important to me and our family.
This week we've been staying in the house, which has been a novelty. Its started off feeling such a luxury- four walls around us, possibly popping downstairs when the girls are asleep. However after a few days we've seen how easy it is to stay in, not get out enough and consequently all our tempers suffer. Big One especially can be reluctant to head outside, she'd rather find some craft or indoor playing, but at the same time gets really wound up to a degree much worse than wet days in the tent. I suppose part of it is space- technically they can run around inside the house (no bouncing in the tent is a firm rule that generally sticks) but the noise of it aggravates DH and I, and the girls get frustrated that they can't play outside games inside. Hmmm, I'll have to think about how 'the problem is the solution' for this issue.
I'm also realising I am a person of opinions. We've been WWOOFing at 10 hosts DH tells me ( I've lost count). That means we've seen about 10 different compost loos, been shown 10 different ways to manage garden compost, 10 different ways to manage kitchen compost, different schemes for scrap food for hens or (shhh, its not allowed) pigs. Apart from the places with dishwashers we've had a variety of instructions on how folk prefer their washing up done (from soaking all dishes before washing, to rinsing everything after washing, to not rinsing anything, etc). After seeing all these ways- and forgetting most of it- I can remember various bits that have made sense as I've gone along, forming some opinions along the way.
Part of me is really looking forward to having My Own compost heap and (I suppose DH'll want to say something about it, but mostly mine) making My Own Rules for what goes in it! When we started I hadn't firm opinions, but after seeing so many I realise the bits that don't make so much sense ( to me- they might make sense to others!) are harder to remember to follow, which is probably in addition to being muddled from following different instructions each week!
Brithdir Mawr is a magical place, I love the gardens, the goats, and the people are great. I can see why people who have been here before could tell us we'd love it here. I've actually seen very little of Wales, but I know we're going to be coming back to this part of the world- I really love it here- even in the rain.