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Sitting on the lawn in the sunshine at Gites de la Richarderie

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Llandudno to Conwy. Walking the Wales Coastal Path.

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Coastal Adventures: Exploring the Stunning Yorkshire Coast

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Moving to the Country: 8 months in – Hello From the Other Side.

There we were in the snow. Again.

I’ve never seen so much snow in one Winter.

Wheelbarrowing a great pile of logs across the yard, deposited from the back of the van of a local company who fell trees at local farms and estates. Stacking them in the porch. A family work chain.

All of us just about getting over horrid flu like colds, our hangover from New Year.

Part of me thinking why on earth am I spending time doing this. I have important paid work to do, tv shows to watch, Facebook to look at, cups of tea to drink.

I really just want my heating to be invisibly piped into my house.

But over time, as I got into it, as my back began to tire and the snow came down harder I became aware of another feeling, other than back ache and frostbite.

Something strange I haven’t felt for a while.

That weird feeling, buried deep in my soul, under a load of pseudo-purposeful stuff, was purpose. Proper purpose, not like phaffing on the internet purpose, or trying to seem busy with work purpose or trying to make our home look like instragrammable purpose.

I was totally in the flow and absorbed in what I was doing. I was outside and I was happy. A big grin spread across my face.

My Dad says he gets that feeling gardening. It’s sort of like meditation.

There is nothing like hauling logs and coal to make you appreciate the simple things, the important things we take for granted, like a warm house.

January was all about coming out of a long winter which we weren’t as well prepared for as we thought. Mentally in my case, physically in the house’s case.

But still, we used the time well and got the holiday barn up and running, I managed to take photos of it for Airbnb eight months to the day we moved in. It was a fab family team effort, with my Dad gardening and Mr A’s mum making curtains and everyone finding frames, ornaments, books and games to fill it.


I knew the ups and downs would be massive this first year in a new life, especially in Winter. But as I took the last of the logs to the woodshed, I was amazed by a first sign of spring, a pink rose, swiftly followed by a primrose, a snowdrop and daffodils peeping through. Then pink skies came and lighter evenings followed.

We spent the 6th anniversary of Mum’s death working together on the cottage. The little jobs and sense of collective purpose were perfect for a difficult day. L made a beautiful Victoria sponge.

The sunrise was incredible that morning. I’m not religious, but we’re all atoms at the end of the day, if Mum was anywhere out there, she’d be in nature.

As January came to an end, I began to feel like I’d beaten SAD too. I caught myself beaming at sunrises, shouting hello at Ashbourne as I drove down the hill, singing along at the top of my voice to Radio 1’s Throwback Thursday as I sailed back over the hills on the school run.

Only when you reach the other side do you realise how much you have achieved, learned and gained.

Watch out world, I’m happy, I’ve got purpose and fire in my belly.

I’m rather proud of this, introducing Mayfield Hideaway, now bookable on Airbnb.

Moving Day Part One

Moving Day Part Two

Adventures in Moving House: The viewing we nearly ran away from

Adventures in Moving House: How to sell your home in 24 hours and 9 months

Country Living 2 months in 

Country Living 3 months in – Weighing it up

Country Living 4 months in – I really live here?

Country Living 5 months in – Apocalypse Now

Country Living 6 months in – Reality Nibbles

Country Living 7 – Our First Christmas



  1. 16/02/2018 / 3:35 pm

    Thanks for the update – always lovely to read and yeah for finding a proper sense of purpose x

  2. midlifesinglemum
    17/02/2018 / 9:50 am

    If you can survive a harsh winter you’re made. The cottage looks lovely – really inviting and comfortable.

  3. 17/02/2018 / 11:04 am

    Oh Penny I smiled too when you wrote that you did. It has been a long winter but spring must really be just around the corner.
    I feel like this series is like a new novel that I can’t put down but I have to wait a whole month for the next page 🙂

  4. 23/02/2018 / 9:23 pm

    Yay for getting through your first winter! Your gorgeous Air BnB cottage looks absolutely gorgeous, you should be so proud of yourselves xx

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