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A house is not a home….

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Sealsea- (2)

Three years ago yesterday i moved out of my beautiful house, by the sea, to start this adventure. I loved this house, have always said it was the most beautiful house I would ever have the privilege  to live in. Edwardian, with so many original features….

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I had put my heart and soul into it, worked so hard on it renovating and decorating and making it into our home.

We were so rushed when it came to moving day I do not even remember closing the door for the last time, but I do remember sitting in the pub that night with tears rolling down my face. When my book comes out you will understand why the house,  for Rich (and now, as time has gone by I realise  for me also),  had become contaminated; it could never be the home we thought it would be; and as three years have passed I have come to realise that.

So then we found our house on the pinnacle of the rolling hills that are Ambrieres les Vallees, and we fell in love. For me it was bittersweet, it was not the house I had left, it was not the house that had taken part of my soul. But over the three years, despite the well running dry, the crappy cesspit (literally, all over the cellar floor sometimes!!) and the mold on the walls; it has shown me this …….

I sit in my bedrom and I look out at this my favorite tree and I feel at peace

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And over the years I have realised that a home is about love, companionship, laughter, and tears; it is not the house, it is the people in it. I look at my husband, and he is happier here. I know neither of us could go back to a house where you could reach out and touch your neighbour, surrounded by people and noise. We are too used to the peacefulness that surrounds us; and I have finally come to realise that I do not miss my old home, it was ONE of the most beautiful houses I lived in; but this is the most beautiful home. It has not taken my soul it has replenished it.

A chair is still a chair, even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight

The late great Luther Vandross..

Have a good Sunday folks.

Moisy

You may want to check out my other blog

http://makingthisbetter.com

It may surprise you, and it may give you hope.

Do we carry on?

Do they stay in puppy class?

Dylan's Welshie World

Dylan and I have finally won an award. Not the coveted Kennel Club Bronze that is slipping further from our grasp, but next week Dylan and I will be officially the longest serving members of puppy class plus.

At the moment, Dylan is stomping round the bedroom in pure Welshie sulk mood. I think the realisation of what happened (or rather didn’t happen)at puppy class has sunk in.

Last week there was no puppy class as it was firework night in the UK. So instead Dyls and I have spent the week practising sit/stays, off lead recalls, heels walks and going through gates – all in readiness of the Good Citizen.

And Dyls has been brilliant. Well that is to say she happily sits and waits at gates now before going through, but faced with a steep slope, some brambles and mud on the way into our favourite field, and…

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I had a little cry…..

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I started to write my second blog  makingthisbetter.com (See link below) on the 2nd of October. I know that some people do not read it, the subject is one that they find difficult, it is a story of Rich and I in times gone past. A story of heartache and pain but ultimately a story of hope; because we are here today, happy and content with what we have.

After polling my readers on this blog I decided to serialise some of the book that I had written, about what happened to us. I truly believe that it is a tale that will help other people when they are in the place of utter devastation and desolation that we found ourselves once.

Well it went mad!!

On Saturday night, thirty nine days after my initial post, my blog hit ten thousand views. and I have had such wonderful comments:

‘@moiraswindell I’ve already binge read your blogs’

‘You’re story gives me hope, it is incredibly inspiring’

‘This completely resonates with me, word for word’

Not least the number of people who have said that they are going out to get a journal!

So on Saturday night as that figure crept up and over the ten thousand mark  I cried! Why? Because I always knew that we had a story to tell; I knew that others would want to read it, I knew and I never gave up. The emotion that I felt, after so much hard work just overwhelmed me.

When someone told me once to ceremoniously burn the journal that I kept then, the journal that kept me sane and kept us together, I said I would never do that; because at the time I wrote that journal I wanted to read someone else’s that would be like mine – that would show me my pain was normal but also show me I would get through it.

Over the past three years I have had people do that thing – you know – ‘hmmmmm’ when you tell them you are writing a book; had people smile at me as if to say ‘of course you are!’ And people who have said  ‘but that won’t get you money now! You need money now, you need to leave that and go and do other work.’

But I didn’t listen to them, and I never, ever, gave up! I cannot tell you the confidence that the response has given me with regard to my writing, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to all of you who have read this blog and given me such encouraging words- not least

‘You should write a book, I would buy it.’

A big thank you to you all.

I have sent my book off to an agent now, and will send it to another one this week, because those ten thousand viewers told me that they want to read my story. If nobody takes it up then I will self publish it, because I have a story to tell and now I know that others want to read it!

What has that to do with living in France? Moving here and having this adventure gave me the freedom to do this; this blog gave me the confidence, you all supported me, leaping off that cliff got us here now. That’s what it has to do with an adventure, it gives you freedom, if  you let it.

Believe – that’s what I say – believe.

Moisy

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Change – Windswept gardens and saving lives

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Only last week I posted this picture or our garden.

This weekend the hooley escalated to what looked like a typhoon, we literally felt as if we were enveloped by the storm, the rain and hail were so torrential that you could not see the field beyond our garden. Winter is letting us know that he is on the way!

All week our new roof has been fantastic, but this rain was exceptional and just found the couple of small flaws that we knew would be there, because such is the case with a new roof! Of course they were where the concrete seal had been added and are easily remedied; after not having a roof at all for three years we have learned not to worry about small things – we literally ‘don’t sweat the small stuff¬’

But the trees and the gardens took a battering and on Sunday morning we woke up to find the old heavy oak door (that had once been our front door) that we had propped against the tree of Tao ( to give the impression that you could walk through a maginal door and into another secret garden – I love a bit of folkelore and mysticism me!) had been blown over and the oak bench in front of her had literally been flipped upside down.

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As you can see the trees have been undressed of their leaves and in just two days the door is virtually covered! As is the rest of the garden.

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The serial killer known as ‘Wiglet’ was however in full form. On Friday she had a wonderful day with me, as I collected the twigs for kindling she protected me from anything that may be lurking in the branches that I was pulling out from the huge pile we have to deal with. Harley was with me too, laying at my feet, but she was snuffling backwards and forwards in the twigs (as far as her fat bum would take her) and behind them. She disappeared for a while and when I went down to load the logs up and into the wheelbarrow to bring in to the house I found that she had left me a present – a big fat dead rat! I told you had nothing to worry about!!

Sadly though this meant that she had got a taste for murder and after the wet weather on Friday night she set her sights back on poor Claudy the cockerel. Rich had to go and get her from the fence by the chicken coop on Friday night and on Saturday morning, whilst drinking my first cup of tea of the day in my jimby jambies, I heard a noise. I quickly got up and opened the door and could hear screaching and clucking – she had got back in with the chickens, by managing to move a post that was pliable in the soft wet ground!

Without further thought I ran up to the chicken coop – remembering what Rich had said about making a loud bang with something,because Wiglet does not like loud bangs, in fact they terrify her. Needs must I grabbed my prop from my washing line and, dreading what I was going to see, headed for the chicken coop gate. But a surprise awaited me – whilst she was giving Claudy the odd nip, she had not gone in for the kill and the other chicken was also alive (all but terrified!). I quickly banged on the corrugated iron of the shed and she ran to the corner of the coop giving Claudy time to squeeze himself between the new chicken house and the fence so she could not get him.

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I shouted at her ‘arretez’ which means stop in French, and she answers to French commands better than English in times like these. To my surprise – after having a quick lunge at the other chicken – she sat and did as she was told. There was no killing frenzy she actually just stopped! Rich came up and got her out, because although she had got in through the tiny gap she had made she could not get her fat arse back out!

A decision had to be made: I love Claudy, he is a stunning cockerel and chats to you whenever you go up to the coop, but if we keep him his days are numbered, because she will kill him one day. It is a bit like a lion, it goes after the one wilderbeast no matter how many are there, and Wiglet has had a taste of Claudy!

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So with heavy heart Rich and I contacted a friend who has just re-homed ten battery hens, he is an animal lover and he has agreed to re-home them both, giving them a safe haven from the serial killer. I will be sad to see them go, it is the end of an era. Butm we have to think of Claudy and the one remaining girly, and, as we know, all things change; and this season is the one to remind us of that like no other.

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I know! Butter wouldn’t melt right?!

Moisy

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Why I have come to love wind and rain

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I am surrounded by trees. My home has so many in the garden I could not list them all, but not least is my tree of Tao…

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I have written before how much I love this tree, as she blows majestically in the wind, no matter whether it is light breeze or a hooley, she never seems to move any faster and her branches always sway slowly as it to say she will not be hurried, and what is needed will come.

Last night a hooley blew in. Living on a hill we are susceptible to high winds and when I first moved here I wondered if we had made a mistake, especially when we lost our kitchen roof, and the tornado struck!

We didn’t realise quite how high up we were or how much the wind would blow around us; but as time has gone on I have come to love the wind; I love the way it blows through the branches and leaves of the trees, I love it when you can see the leaves, at this time of year, swirling and dancing their last dance, and I love it because it reminds me that we need to blow the old away to bring in the new.

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So  last night as I lay in bed  (I tend to wake at night, and often cannot get back to sleep)  listening to the wind and the rain battering against the shutters, it made me feel safe, and it made me feel lucky. Here I was laying in bed warm and loved with my husband snoring beside me, one of my Welshie’s snuggled up to me and the other snoring in her bed (she loves her new bed our baby!) and I knew that was all I need.

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I felt protected by our house, and the shutters, and I felt blessed that I was where I was. It really is the simple things!

Sometimes I can lay awake for hours , but  last night listening to the wind and the rain it was as if mother nature had sung me a lullaby and I fell back to sleep.

Today when we woke  the hooley was still in full swing, and as I sit here now writing this the rain is battering away at the window pain, my Welshie’s are asleep on our spare bed and one bar on my gas fire is keeping me warm.

But more than anything the thing I love about the wind and rain is that whilst the rain can calm you the wind can blow your fears away. I woke up today with something on my mind – you know – when there is something there but you cannot quite put your finger on it! So I decided to embrace what life had sent me and I went out into the garden, with my beautiful dogs, and as I did so the sun came out! I just stopped and looked out over the valley, with it’s sunny skies and dark clouds reminding me that the hooley was still with us and I took a breath.

I do not do this enough; I get caught up in the day to day things (writing two blogs, sending my book to agents, admin, unicorns – I know obscure!) and I don’t come out here whatever the weather, with my beautiful puppies who, God willing, will be with me for as long as they can, and even then that will still not be enough; and just spend an hour a day with them surrounded by nature.

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As I spent over an hour gathering the twigs from the enoumous piles of trees we still have to sort,  they hunted whatever I had disturbed from it’s winter hideaway, and just ran around with me, happy that I was outside with them.

As  I let the wind blow through my mind, and blow the cobwebs away, I looked at this amazing place that I am blessed to live and in it reminded me (as it so often has in my life) that we really are just small things that are here for a fleeting moment, and all the things we have on our minds are insignificant really.

Did I find out what was on my mind? No, but I did come in with the reasurrance that whatever it is it will all resolve itself in the end.

Moisy

Doesn’t matter where you live you just accept things as they are..

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Here is a blog that I wrote last week, and forgot to share with you – sorry about that folks! I would welcome comments on this one….

Since the chilly temperatures last weekend the weather had now become weirdly very warm, and ever so slightly wet. Last year we had the wettest winter ever recorded in France and it can get very grey, very fast over here, which I know gets some people down.

As I look out of my window from where I write there is drizzle in the air and a feeling of dampness everywhere. The Welshie’s are snuggled and asleep and I have lit the fire early today. (I count that as a blessing as we have enough wood to not worry when we light it – for the first time in three years.)

Grey is my favourite colour, most of my house is painted one shade or another of it, and I often sit up here on the hill alone, whilst Rich and my neighbours are at work. It would be quite easy to feel isolated but I don’t. I am someone who likes her own company, I am busy with my two blogs now, and I am writing for hours every day to hone my book because come hell or high water it will be published – with another month heading to the eight thousand views scenario I would be mad not to believe in it.

I do a lot of reading as part of my research, and today I read a post where it said that it was okay to feel down and it got me thinking (which I am blessed to have time to do whilst living on this French hill) am I too positive?

I have blogged in the past about how someone told me that I was – but then she was a person who never seemed happy in her life, no matter what it gave her, and had often suffered from depression.

So can you be too positive? I know from reading the Tao that where there is good there is bad and where there is bad there is good, and perhaps it is that thought that keeps me going through the bad times, that I know that if I believe eventually good will come my way – in whatever form as long as I believe it. I also know that we continously focus on the negative only negative crap will come our way because we are attracting it. But do I not see the negative shit? Or am I now able (after reading the Tao) to just accept the fact that it is ‘just life’?

Let’s look at our roof scenario – it had major damage from a storm in the March of 2016, and then the insurance company refused to pay out. At that time I had lived here a year and yes I was stressed about it. Wondered how we would survive, berated the world for sending crap our way, and it just seemed as if we couldn’t get a break. Then two months later I started to read the philosophy of the Tao (The book was called ‘Change Your thoughts, Change Your Life) and it did change my life. When I first started reading it I wondered what the hell it was talking about, but I perservered and now I get it; but boy did it take time!

In the September a tornado ripped through our garden tearing the silver birch tree in half and finishing off the roof. As you know if you read this blog we had only a tarp that kept us for the elements and we had that tarp for another two years.

But here is the rub: I had learnt that to worry about it was not going to change it. We didn’t have the money to get it done, the water was going to come in but I had to accept that there was nothing I could do until the opportunity arose to fix it. Yes it could have got into the electrics – but it didn’t – yes it could have rotted the rafters – but it didn’t (well not completely) but what was me worrying about it, or being fed up about it going to achieve? Nothing!

I learnt that when the time was right we would get the new roof we needed and we have, we still carried on living here, we did not die! The same as with the water, I learnt from that lesson never to waste water or take it for granted again.

As the years  have gone on I have learnt that worrying and stressing will get me nowhere, and I just have to accept what life dishes out to me, and go with the flow.

Where there is good there is bad and where there is bad there is good. If I don’t know the bad then I won’t know the good.

So am I too positive?

Moisy

Being positive joke

Cloud Watching – Believe,

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It was cold over the weekend and although we had decided to have a bonfire in line with the traditional bonfire night in England (November the 5th folks, when Guy Fawkes, who was a Spaniard (are you keeping up?) was found guarding a huge amount of gunpowder under the houses of parliament and hung drawn and quartered for his sins, even though he was not the main conspirator. So as we English do we celebrate this gory event with bonfires and fireworks – I know we’re weird!) Anyway back to my story….

We had decided to have a bonfire to burn the huge amount of crap we have to burn, not least the smelly damp chicken hay, from the now defuct Chicken Hilton and the old rotted wood from our old roof. But hubby had been at work for half the day and had been busy all week so we decided against it and just had a lovely evening with some friends, drinking lots of wine and eating very hot chilli! (Are we getting old!)

Because Rich had been busy all week and worked yesterday I had promised him a lie in (it is so easy when you live this life to work every day all day and you would still not get everything done!) and a snuggle in bed. What better a thing to do on a cold frosty morning?

Bus Sophie, the Sofa Loaf, (also known as Nitty, Nutty, Nora) the toothless cat that we have adopted since living here, had other ideas and decided to Meowly Meow at the top of her voice as soon as the sun started to rise. So as husband snored (seriously he could sleep through a tornado that man – Oh wait he did!!) I decided to get up, let the mad cat out and make some tea (as I often say we are English after all!)

As is the way life showed me the way and I was greeted by the sun just rising over the horizon and it took my breath away.

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Yes! I was out in my garden again in my pyjamas and dressing gown!

I had to do it, I felt the need to embrace that beauty on that crisp, cold morning. It was stunning and as always made me think that without the cold, and the cat waking me up I would not have seen this.

Everything in life happens for a reason, you just have to look sometimes to find out what it is.

The whole sky was breathtaking with rolling clouds all around us

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So as I was preparing for this blog and downloading my photos, I saw this one and it made me stop in my tracks ……

I thought for a brief moment that I had caught in the clouds a face of a cat, and my heart stopped because I thought it must be Tinky Tiny Tilly, our beautiful little black cat who never came home nine months ago. I ran down the stairs to Rich and showed him and he could not believe it either, until he noticed the orange lines on it and I remembered that I had taken the photo the day before – it is a photo of Sophie in her favourite place – my car!

Perhaps I am the Nitty, Nutty Nora, or perhaps I just wanted to believe!

Have a good week folks, remember enjoy everything life has to offer, you can get comfort from the smallest thing.

Moisy

We have a roof – for the first time in three years!

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This was our roof from three years ago, after it had been attacked by storm Katie and annihalated by a twister going right through our garden.

As most of you know it has been the hardest part of this adventure to find work, or people you can trust to work for; and so we had no money to repair it. I have written only recently how we did not let that stop us, we carried on, we had no choice. (Boy can I see that what Rich and I went through was in prep for this adventure, because we already knew that nothing could beat us!)

But as I wrote in September the roof was finally being replaced; and oh my it is a piece of art!

Our wonderful builder Rob is a skilled man, because the roof had been open to the elements for so long some of the rafters had to be repaired (not replaced because bless him he knew we had to keep costs down.)

Being a carpenter Rob repaired joists and the result, particularly at the back of the roof is stunning; with it’s curves it looks like a wing of one of the kestrels or eagles that fly around us up here.

I love the contrast of the black tiles (black is de rigeur because we are in a protected national park, in fact we have only just found out that our barn is classed as a listed building because it was built in 1812) and the zinc edging that catches the light.

Having lived for three winters with the rain pouring in at times (we only had a worn out old tarp to protect it and we had bowles everywhere catching the water) my husband now dances round the kitchen every time it rains singing the ‘We’re lovely and dry’ song! Small things eh?!

This year we have achieved a lot with new doors and the new roof we are now warm and toasty; which means that the electric heater in the kitchen keeps us warm and the old calor gas fire, that we had in the kitchen, has now been moved up into the bedroom where I write, no more cold feet and hands for me this winter!

Small things, they are what matter.

Moisy

Do you ever take the time?

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I ask this question to you all, do you ever take the time to just see what is around you and look at it in awe. I know I have so much that can make me think feel this way, I am surrounded by Mother Nature, God, the Tao Te Ching, whatever you want to call it, it is all around me every day; and I know for that I am blessed. I have never lost sight of that.

But I know that some think they don’t have the countryside around them, so it is not so easy to see the beauty in the simple things; but it is! It is all around us all, no matter where you live, look at the the rain for instance falling around us, from the drop on a leaf, or railing, to the blade of grass, glistening with beauty. Have you ever stopped and just watched a drop of rain hanging from a rail, quivering and glistening, and waited until it plopped?

Rain knows no bounds, it is in the countryside, the cities, the suburbs, in slums. No matter what you feel about your life it is amazing if you just stop and look for a moment.

Or what about the sky? When was the last time that you just stopped for a moment and looked at the sky?

When ‘The War’ was raging around Rich and I eleven years ago I sought solace in cloud watching, as I watched the clouds just go on their way, slowly, unhurried and always  so beautiful and serene I was reminded that in the whole universe the pain that we were going through would pass, and wasn’t as bad, or as important as I thought.

I have never stopped cloud watching, and living here I am blessed every day.

So Ithought that on the first day of November I would share with you some of the beautiful sunrises that we were given to us in the month of October. I want you to imagine me, every morning at about eight o clock out in the garden snapping these shots, in my dressing gown (it’s spotty if you want the detail!) This one in particular was what inspired me:

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One morning when we woke it was chilly, despite it being very warm for October the previous few days, I opened the door to let the cats in and the dogs out and this caught my eye, the mist over the valley and it just rising took my breath away and I just had to capture it.

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Rich got up to find me scurrying around the garden in my pyjamas and said ‘What are you doing now?!’

‘Look at this I said, we are so lucky.’

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This set the pattern for the next few weeks and I hope that you enjoy them.

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I ask you all to just take the time today to just stop for thirty seconds and see something beautiful. Here is what I saw this morning, looks like November is bringing it’s own beauty to the party..

As the great poet W.H Davies said ‘What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.’

Moisy

Reminisces – I love the way this life has changed me

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We have had a wonderful warm Autumn here in France, it has been recorded as the warmest October on record, but over the last week winters has started to creep in with the wind; and today, as I sit here with Sofa Loaf (the toothless cat we rescued when we moved here) fast asleep beside me it reminds me how much our lives have changed since moving here.

I am sitting in my fleece, with my old computer (with an added keyboard because the keyboard went on it years ago!) and the electric heater on very low. The clocks went back this weekend and the sun is low in the sky because the evening is drawing in already. Summer seems a long way away now.

Rural living is simple living if you don’t have a lot of money; so over the last three years I have learnt that everything counts, including the twigs from the garden – used for kindling – and the small logs from the cob nut trees we coppiced three years ago, now tinder dry and perfect for keeping the fire burning.

Yesterday as I stood in the biting late autumn wind loading the logs to take indoors I remembered how three years ago I was so excited about our first winter in France; about having to survive, it seemed so exciting at the time. But as that winter wore on I begrudged having to go out in the cold to collect the logs, and I wondered if I really was going to enjoy this life. It seemed so hard having come from our old house in England with it’s central heating that could be turned up at the click of a switch and the open fires we would light for atmosphere more than necessity.

As we were collecting logs today to re-stock our log cupboard, and also to try and finally fill the log store we bought (it is like something out of ‘The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe’ no matter how many logs we put in it, we havem’t managed to fill it yet!) I looked at Rich and said ‘I used to hate this, and now I love it!’ I love being out in the cold getting what I need to make our house warm and ‘snuggly’. I love all of the elements that every season brings and I embrace them all.

I am not dreading the many cold, grey, damp drizzly days you can get in this part of France in the winter. Instead I enjoy looking at the grey mists that surrounds us, I love the atmospheric feeling of being in the middle of nowhere snuggled down amongst the mist, feeling safe, and making do with what you have got.

I do, I love the fact that to use something I have to make an effort and get it, gone are the days when I can just have something in the time it takes me to click my fingers, and it made me realise that I love that aspect of our lives now.

When I used to live in England I would sit in my house in just a T.Shirt, I don’t now! Our only form of real heating is the log burner and you will never see me without a fleece, thick cardigan or fluffy warm dressing gown in the late autumn and winter months; and I love that! I love it that I have collected the walnuts (that we let go to waste the first year we were here, we literally left them to rot!), and that this weekend I will make us a walnut pie (bit like pecan only think Walnut!)

We don’t have money to go out, but in all honestly even if we did we wouldn’t, we are happy in our home, with our beautiful Welshies (the perfect dogs for autumn photos) all our cats, our fluffy slippers (well mine anyway!) This and to just walk around our garden, is enough.

I love what this adventure is showing us! Be gratedful for what you have got and just enjoy each day; and if you cannot do that then just enjoy a small thing each day and be grateful for that! I know it is hard sometimes, trust me you only have to read some of my older blogs to know how hard it has been, but live every day is if it were your last, for someone, somewhere it will be.

A good message for the beginning of the week I hope.

Moisy

Broken hearts and Unicorns

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I am so sorry to all of my readers of Mois French Adventure I have neglected those who don’t want to read the pain of my other blog makingthisbetter.com but it has just took off! I have had over seven thousand views to date and the interaction has been phenomenal. If I cannot get an agent or publisher I will self-publish and a big thanks to all those who gave me advice less than a month ago.

Who would have thought when I moved out here that my life would have taken this turn? I think that it is important to say a big thank you to Rich, it has been incredibly brave of him to agree to me sharing our story, and for facing his fears and realising that I still love him, the pain I felt has gone away – long ago. It is time to help others now.

I have been saying for a long time that change is coming and I feel that it is now blowing in on the late autumn wind, who knows what is coming; I learnt a long time ago to go with it and not be afraid.

My week has been busy, as well as the new blog and the mass of media interaction that has to take place I was asked if I would make some sparkly unicorns as part of our joint business, making handmade products. I am blind as a bat, which comes in helpful when I sit for hours with an orange stick embellishing our products! I love doing it but it is time consuming so I was pleased when one of the unicorns sold before I had even put it in the shop!

I looked up the symbolism of unicorns, given the madness of the past few weeks, and there are many meanings; for me the one that resonated was that they do represent strength (I think it’s fair to say that is probably me, for where we are now and because I have never, ever given up on this adventure!), and they can also represent new beginnings. I think this may be the start of one for us now.

I love all of the interaction from you and the support you have given me over the years so I will be blogging often this week, on this blog, sharing pictures with you and telling you about the other changes that have happened since the chickens moved into their own house and out of the chicken Hilton.

Keep reading folks, and thanks for staying with me. I am off now for an afternoon of relaxation (and interaction no doubt!) and next week I will be embellishing the newest unicorn addition to our designs, requested by someone for their grand-daughter, who knows whether she will pick a heart of star design for it’s base!

Have a good Sunday – and always believe in something magical

Moisy