A pregnant pause

I have no idea why I haven’t posted for so long, nothing I can put my finger on anyway, but I do know that I have no intention of giving the blog up; I know this may come as a bit of a disappointment to some, I’m sorry, but I intend to carry on and this is my attempt to get the ball rolling again.

I had the best intentions of walking you around Jersey, taking in the views and discovering the history of the German occupation in the 1940’s, alas I didn’t really get out much. I borrowed the occasional dog to take for walks, always returning them in one piece and occasionally without the owners knowledge, but even then time or the weather  conspired against me; pictures of hidden German bunkers, beaches and the slowly disappearing countryside will have to stay in my memory.

The work at the garage had it’s moments and I managed to get involved in some of the projects that the boss had lined up for me, including a stint as Santa during the run up to Christmas! Although setting up a website (blog) for the garage was probably more in my comfort zone; a lot more content required, but the scene is set for the garage to play on the internet stage.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Mr Men; Chatty, Clever, Small and Strong, not to mention Little Miss Sunshine, all of whom made my stay and work in Jersey less of a chore and more of a pleasure than I could have hoped for.

My trip back home to Poland was without event, which surprised me considering the disruption that the weather is causing in the UK at the moment. I did stop off in Yorkshire on-route to say hello to family and to help me to acclimatise to the sub zero temperatures ahead of me; it’s always good to catch up the the goings on in the Dales and finding out first hand what my sisters and nephews are up to beyond their status updates on Facebook.

So here I am, back in the land of snow and ice, although since my arrival the outdoor thermostat has been turned up and the winter covering has all but melted away; hat and gloves remain in my pocket as I walk the dogs over a wet and muddy landscape with only the occasional white scar deep in the irrigation ditches that cross cross the fields. I am secretly hoping that winter is over and work can resume on the house sooner rather than later and of course the lack of the white stuff will make the dash to the hospital, any day now, so much safer and easier!

Not been with Gosia for such a long time was a bit of a struggle and on seeing her and her bump on my arrival at the airport I was truly amazed at the change over the last four months; despite the fact that we spoke and saw each other every day via Skype, I didn’t seem to be prepared. I hope I am for the next stage!

As the day draws nearer I do kind of wonder how I am going to cope, although I’m not overly worried, as Gosias confidence about bringing up baby will pull me through, I just have to remember to do as I’m told and make sure my nappy skills are up to scratch!

Talking of nappies, as one does, we have made the decision to go with the reusable type. Now  I know this won’t come as a surprise to some of you and it’s hardly a news worthy item to mention without getting all eco on you; I’ll leave that for another post. But I did feel that the composting toilet subject hasn’t graced the pages of the blog for quite a while now and so the nappies have to get a mention, as all of that goodness will be collected in biodegradable liners and popped on the pile of poop ready to propagate the peas of the future. I did propose running a separate pile to see if baby compost was better at growing tomatoes than adult humanure, but the look on Gosias face was reason enough not to go down this route; getting more excited about baby poo than the baby herself is a big no no!

And that’s it for now, my first post in quite a while, a bit erratic with no real theme running through it, but a post non the less. This mornings sowing of chilli seeds may get a post of it’s own later today as I would like to go back to the roots of the blog and document some of the things we are doing to doing to become more self sufficient. Mind you I also need to catch up with a few of my blogging friends, it’s been a while and I have some reading to do.

I’m going home :)

Now this may seem like a bit of an odd statement given that my country of birth and residence for more than 96 % of my life, so far, has been in the UK; maybe more surprising since I have especially enjoyed my time back in Yorkshire, the county of my birth, after a spell of more than 25 years away; ok I have visited on many occasions, but this last break was more of an extended stay than a holiday.

I have lived in Skipton, although not by my own doing, Leeds; my own choice, Scarborough; for adventure!; the Isle of White and Jersey. The latter, some people may not consider being part of the UK; but they spoke English, most of the time, and they had fish and chip shops!

Jersey played a big part in my life and I was able to scale the ladder from tuber engineer (potato picker), to business owner; more luck than judgment, or maybe  not; it’s a difficult reflection to make out. Non the less I ended up where I am with an optimistic view on life and having more than 30 jobs under my belt, I joke that ‘I’ve never been a milk man’ and if I were ever write a book about it that will be the title; although it’s more likely to be a blog post 🙂

So here I am, on my way home to Poland, and although it’s a cliché, home is where the heart is and I’m overwhelmed with my desire to get back to the next chapter of my life with the woman I love and have loved for the last seven years; I hope she reads this 🙂

Reading this back it sounds a bit soppy, but I’m happy to be driven by my emotion and as an eternal optimist I know it’s the right place be and Gosia is the right person to be with.

I have noticed that a few of my posts have become a little biographical, a trend that many blogs that I follow follow, is this a bad thing? I don’t know. One thing I do know is that the story of the rest of my life is just beginning and I wouldn’t want it any other way 🙂

4 days to go…….

A short compilation

I feel a bit guilty; I haven’t really posted anything recently, at least nothing that follows the loose blog theme that I have.

I have had a few ideas, I even have a few drafts which explore some of the journeys that I have taken since I took up temporary residence in Yorkshire, but I just can’t seem to put it together in my head or on paper; albeit electronic.

It’s strange, but I have read quite a few of my favourite blogs and it seems to be a common affliction, even if the reasons behind the doldrums may differ for other bloggers; I’m wondering what the underlying problem may be for me in particular?

I started writing this last night and never got any further, but after my journey to the shops this morning I managed to clear my head;  helped by the blizzard conditions, change the title and came up with a structure for this post.

First off is Sedbergh, I have family there and I planned to meet my other sister as she was holding a pointer day along with my aunty. Our family have been involved in the breeding of pointers for over 80 years, which explains why they were holding a pointer day, although I have a distinct lack of pictures of the event, or Sedbergh for that matter; but I did stop and admire the views on route.

It was a great day out, especially if you like pointers and I got to see one of my cousins for the first time in over twenty years and we made the most of our time, taking a walk around the surrounding counntryside and catching up, as the dedicated pointer people talked about pointer things 🙂

I pass by Ribblehead Viaduct every time I head over to Settle or Skipton for shopping or other such adventures! So I thought it only right to take a few pictures of this outstanding feat of engineering. The local myth is that the foundations are built upon wool, litrially; although after a little bit of research I discovered that the viaduct is built from the money from the woollen industry. I love the fact the it was built with a curve so that passengers of the train could admire the structure as the passed over it; the link above is worth a read, although there are many other references on the web for more information if you’re interested. I remember seeing the Flying Scotsman on the Settle to Carlisle line, which passes over the viaduct, as a child and placing a 2p coin of the track so that the train would run over it and I would have a memento of the event; I have no idea what happened to it, but I remember the moment! As you head on down the road you get to see the impressive Pen-y-ghent, which I scaled several times during my childhood.

As you may imagine, if you are aware of the weather in the UK at the moment, many of these roads are now impassable due to the heavy snow fall of the last few days; which scuppered a few of my plans, including my trip to Wigan to attend a Straw Bale workshop. I really sorry I missed it as it would have been a great opportunity to meet new people and learn a some new skills, but for the record check out www.wiganallotmentnetwork.org.uk ; a fantastic organisation with lots of community activities going on.

snowed in 23rd March 2013 (2)Road to Ribblehead

That was the condition of the roads, never mind the path through the fields down to the village.

Once I got to the shops they had run out of bread, amongst other things and a brief conversation soon revealed that they hadn’t received a delivery in two days! Just as well I have plenty of flour in 🙂

I just hope it clears for next weekend as I head off to Holland to see my beloved Gosia; I’m so looking forward to seeing her again after almost three months of separation. Thank you to Lady Sighs for providing the perfect words for how I feel.

Hoping your all safe and warm, I know I am now that I’m back from my trip to the shops 🙂

Walling, walling, walling, rawhide! (gloves required)

Even though the Yorkshire breed is a hardy one and bare hands are the tools of a great waller (you have to feel the stone) there comes a point when you have to pop on the gloves to stop your finger ends from wearing down to the bone. Of course I’m a ‘soft lad’ after many years of tapping the keyboard, but I had thought that my season of house building had toughened me up a little.

Armed with nothing more that a lump hammer, a crowbar a pick and a couple of nails and a piece of string my first day of dry stone walling started early yesterday. The frost was thin on the ground the air was fresh and the sun was just starting to say hello, which made for an entertaining journey through the dale peering through an unwashed windscreen; thankfully I wasn’t driving.

A couple of valleys to the East on narrow winding roads, passing through the odd village and hamlet, we reached our destination; what appeared to be a well organised farm yard, even though it was scattered with the commonly found polythene wrapped circular hay bales and an assortment of machinery. The usual greetings ‘ar ya reet’ and ‘ow’s it going’, plus a fair amount of chatter that I wasn’t privy to soon revealed that the Mule (a glorified four wheel drive golf cart) was out of action due to an altercation with a steep hill and a failing handbrake, so our eyes turned to the ‘landy’ (Landrover), but of course this was also suffering from a few mechanical problems; a flat battery, a deflated tyre and a possible starter motor issue. A bit of quick thinking, some jump leads and a general consensus that the tyre would ‘be reet’ we only had one final hurdle to jump before we headed off up top and a days graft. As we pulled the Landy up to the red diesel tank to pop a bit of fuel in to stop the annoying orange warning light the plan fell into disarray, not only was the tank locked but so was the fuel cap, with no key to be found! The plan was finally shattered,  along with the early morning quiet, as a masked quad bike rider tore into the yard, sliding to a halt a couple of feet away from us. Denty (the only name I will ever know him as), the rider and supervisor, was quick to explain that our intended wall was still undert’ snow and our trip to the hills was scuppered. Fearing, or possibly hoping, that the days work was not to be, I meandered around whilst new plans were made and we soon headed off across a couple of fields to a fifteen meter stretch of half built wall; an unfinished job of fifteen years past.

The first opportunity I had to take a photo, 3 or 4 hours into the job
The first opportunity I had to take a photo, 3 or 4 hours into the job!

I was initially drafted in to do the ripping out of an old section of wall whilst the lads rebuilt the section, but as the job had changed so did my role. I was now tasked with digging out the old stone that lay at the foot of the wall, sorting and passing required sizes and filling in; all relatively east tasks compared to my intended labour. I still found the work hard, but enjoyed every minute as the the sun warmed our backs and the wind stayed calm. The layers of clothing soon came off and Hadley, my nephew, was soon bare chested; there was even a moment when he stood in the middle of the field in just his boxers and alpaca socks as he discarded his thermals; quite a sight for any passers-by, however distant. Ben, his partner in crime and on occasion referred to as a smurf due to his blue tracksuit, made much of this and the banter remained thick, fast and funny throughout the day.

All of this was topped off with wonderful scenery and on the odd occasion that we stopped to have a bite to eat I marvelled at my surroundings and I couldn’t think of any better place to be working and I was reminded of the old saying ‘you can take a Yorkshire man out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take Yorkshire from the man’ and for good reason.

As the day wore on so did my gloves, even wearing two pairs gave little protection and the material  was through on four of my fingers! I did however take heart and considered that I wasn’t a complete wuss as even my betters donned sturdy pairs as they set the heavy top stones.

With the Job done the sun decided to leave us and I welcomed the cold beer and outstanding lamb shank meal my sister had cooked; the addition of a second nephew and a few friends created the perfect atmosphere to finish the day and for the first time in a long I went to bed early and slept with a clear mind and an aching body 🙂

Do you want owt fromt’ shops

The village of Hawes nestles in the valley below us, about a mile and half away across fields on a flagstone path (a trod) that was put down a couple of hundred years ago or more; maybe even dating back to medieval times. The Pennine way meanders through the area and I have walked many of the fells on previous visits and in my childhood, the moor above the house has an ancient Roman road which is testament to their engineering skills as it survives over two thousand years after its construction so it’s a popular area for walkers, hikers and farmers and you are as likely to meet someone on the way as you are to pass a car if you take the easy way and drive to shops for provisions.

With my general lack of exertion other than that in the kitchen, with a spot of gardening on the side when the sun manages to break through, I prefer to take the route of my forefathers and head out; wrapped up warm in my North Face and topped off with my hand crocheted hat (thanks Gosia 🙂 ) with my rucksack strapped to my back. ‘Owt fromt’ shops’ is my usual cry before I set off and I keep my fingers crossed that the list doesn’t include too many heavy liquids; beer is fine, but milk!

I was treated to snow this morning, but the wind has died down so it was a very pleasant walk and for once I remembered to put the camera in my pocket, so I’m subjecting you to yet another gallery.

I didn’t take any photos of Hawes as it’s well documented on the web already, with professional photographs and meaningful descriptions, but if you ever venture there on your travels then try the butchers homemade Wensleydale sausages and for a wider range of provisions then ask someone where The Good Life is as they stock the best variety of fruit and veg, free range eggs, along with the more unusual items from black cardamoms to egg tagliatelle.

Weighed down with supplies the walk back up to the village of Burtersett is harder work, but it gets the heart pumping and the lungs working and when you know that there is a warm fire and a cup of tea at the end of your journey the time passes by in a flash, especially with the magnificent views all around.

Luckily my work in the garden and the recent snow allowed me to take this last photo without causing too much embarrassment to my sister, I’m just hoping that the bulbs that I planted come through and add bit of colour before I leave.

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But now I must crack on, unfortunately for me my home made pita breads are liked by all and I have to get another batch on the go for tonight’s feast  🙂

Hall of Residence

The one thing I can say about my sister is that she has taste, which is probably why she had her own interior design company once upon a time; back in the day she was very well known and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Kevin McCloud before he hit the TV screen, and refitting a fifty room manor houses was not unknown. Sadly a number of reasons, including ill health, have meant that she is no longer whisked off by helicopter to Chivas whiskey distillery to rearrange the decor.

But true to form, when she moved back to Yorkshire from Spanish Galicia, she picked an absolute gem of a house and in a perfect location.

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Hillary Hall in fact, late 17th, early 18th century, grade II listed building; my new temporary Hall of residence.

Of course the downside to living in an listed building is that the landlord was unable to put in double glazing or make too many alterations to try and keep the heat in, and it gets a bit nippy; my first job of the day is to get the fire lit 🙂

In saying that, with all this cooking and baking I’m doing the kitchen stays nice and toasty and I have a decent view out of the window when I’m busy cleaning up MY mess 🙂

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I wish I’d have taken the pictures yesterday when the sun was shining, although that may have been a false representation of what the weather is normally like ‘up north’ Maybe once I’ve finished sprucing up the garden I’ll get a few more shots, rumour has it that the sun may shine again later this month.