One Year On: A Year of Blogging

We have been at Pig Row for three years this winter. We moved in during belts of rain, the movers ducking in and out until late evening with our belongings, making monolithic piles in bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room and strangely enough, the bathroom. We have from the start taken photos chronicling how we have taken on a garden, a house and have made changes. Here are some of those photos. Thank you to everyone who has read our blog, thank you for your support and here's to another twelve months.

Pig Row in the 1920s. Slightly before our time.
Back in late 2009, we moved into our new house. We could see the potential. This was a house that hadn't been touched since the 1950s-1960s. The decor showed us this from the fake boarded kitchen and its yellow and white tiles with matching sink unit to the twelve layers of wallpaper that we stripped off to fit a radiator. This was the type of wallpaper that had been made from string, soaked in a bathtub before pasting on to the wall. It wasn't a question of paper sticking to a wall, it became another layer of the wall. In many cases it is still supporting the crumbling plaster beneath.

Pig Row in 2012. A bevvy of 4x4s on a rural lane.

Over that first winter we hacked back the undergrowth in the garden but even by spring 2010 we were still face with grass that was brown, matted and 7 inches thick. The field mice and the slugs loved it but it felt like you were walking on a bouncy castle.

Spring garden 2010.

Several men, two chainsaws, four strimmers revealed the garden again and allowed us to plant new hornbeam hedges and our neighbours to fix their fences.

Allotment garden 2011.

In the house we were still faced by the old decor and a hot water cylinder that was costing us hundreds of pounds each quarter. We foolishly left it on for a week, believing the heating process would stop once the cylinder was hot, it never got hot and we got a massive bill. You learn from your mistakes and we wanted to go green.

The old kitchen 2010.

The new kitchen in progress 2011.

That pesky water cylinder.

So, in 2011 we had saved up enough to start the first phase of going green. A solid fuel stove and cooker. It's not been without its problems, and as I write this just under a year later, those problems are still being sorted out. New technology can cause a headache and we learnt the hard way but we wouldn't be without our wonderful stove. That first night we lit it, was the first time in a year that we'd took off our jumpers.

The wonderful Burley stove 2011.

A beautiful thing to look at but a pain.

Broseley cooker at Pig Row.
That first winter with heating meant several back breaking moments of bringing in the wood. Now we have a pattern and all our wood is ordered in summer, we even look at the weather to make sure it comes on a dry day. No more do I have to put on thermals to bring in the wood.

Wearing long johns beneath this.

Carol stacking wood.

One thing we have got back in touch with at Pig Row is the seasons. Winter showed us that we couldn't have a convertible anymore that wouldn't make it up the hill and it went in 2012 for a Land Rover.

The convertible in a mild snow downfall, winter 2011.

Our Land Rover.

At least with this Land Rover we could bring home scrap wood, get out and about but we are always under the danger of being snowed in here. To this end we started to learn how to bake our own bread and preserve our own produce. We even make our own award winning jam. Food is important to us.

Award winning and tasty.

Homemade bread.

This baking extended into cakes and we learnt to eat what was in season. When our blueberry and raspberry crop came in, we got all patriotic, if a little late for the Jubilee.

Jubilee cake 2012.
Our newly discovered kitchen, now less damp but still a work in progress gave forth winter warmers in our second winter.


Toad in the hole.

We even learnt to forage in the hedgerow coming back with some wild cherry plums and bumice. We learnt how to preserve our produce from cauliflowers to courgettes.

Wild cherry plums made....

...doesn't it look tasty?

Homemade picalilli.

Yet, everything came back to produce from the garden, from tomatoes to beans, everything flowed into our kitchen for eating, preserving or bartering with.

Have t-shirt will barter.

Allotment 2012.

Fruit bed 2012.

Shetland Blacks 2011.

Runner beans 2010.

We've had our successes and failures. Yet, I would rather focus on the successes, the baking of bread, the growing of beans in the first year, potatoes in the second and strawberries in the third. The fact that last winter we planted an orchard and this year it flowered and came to life.

The orchard site 2010.

Apple blossom 2012.

More importantly though Pig Row has brought us together as a family, and that is why we use the image below. When we write, we write as a family, when we do columns for newspapers, magazine articles and blog posts we do them because the love we feel for each other, this garden, this landscape is reflected in what we write. We do it and we share it because we want to show that sometimes a slower way of life, is not a half life but one that is full, one that moves with the seasons and moves with the family at its centre.

Pig Rowers going against the tide.