Four years of successes and failures

Today, WordPress informs me, is my anniversary – four years since I started this blog. I’m not sure what I expected at the beginning, but it has certainly provided me with a good record of certain aspects of my life over the past few years. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to look back over old posts to see what I got up to and to reflect on what worked and what didn’t…

One of my very early posts (in the days before I knew how important pictures are) was about the magic of compost. I described making it from “vegetable peelings, teabags (unbleached), cotton rags, willow and paper shreddings, leaves, chicken poo and more”. Well, I’m still making compost, but the teabags have been ditched in favour of loose tea leaves, so that can surely be chalked up as a continuing success.


The radio four years ago… it’s much scruffier now

In May 2012 I wrote about our solar/wind-up radio and all the repairs it had undergone. The only person who “liked” the post was Mr Snail and he was the one who had done all the hard work. Over the years I’ve I’ve mentioned it in several other posts, and Mr Snail wrote about one of its repairs in detail. It’s still going strong, although looking very dilapidated now and faded because of its time on the kitchen windowsill. I consider any repairs that extend the life of an object to be a big success and this is something that it would have been all too easy simply to throw out and replace with a new version.

Back in June 2012 I wrote my first post about decluttering. Well, clearly I have failed on that count because I’m still at it! When I think about it, over the years I have managed to get rid of lots of unwanted STUFF, but it still feels like I have only scratched the surface. At least my new approach of making sure there are no net gains will prevent it getting worse, but I am determined to continue with the idea of shedding at least one thing every day…I’ll come to today’s shed a bit later. I’m currently writing in my diary every day what I have got rid of which is at least giving me a sense that I am achieving something.

At a time of very limited readership, probably my most popular post was written in September 2012 and was entitled “21st Century Womble“. When I think about it, this post probably sums up much of what I have subsequently written about – repair, reuse, converting other people’s junk into something I value and generally treading more lightly on the plant. If I hadn’t come up with the name “The Snail of Happiness” (you can read the story of that here) I may well have entitled this blog 21st Century Womble.


They look good but they really don’t taste of anything – and they are a real pain to prepare

Throughout my time blogging I have written about my garden. In the summer of 2013 I addressed the question of whether it’s worth growing potatoes. My resounding answer (much to my own surprise) was “yes” – to reduce food miles, produce a really useful crop and so you know exactly what chemicals you’re being exposed to. In fact, it was at this time that I was thinking very carefully about what to grow… and concluding that what I should plant is things we like and that I know we will eat. Experimental crops are all very well, but are of little value if they just end up on the compost heap! So, no more salsify and oca, I’m sticking to potatoes, lettuce, peppers, courgettes, squashes, chillies, beans, herbs, parsnip and leaks… the ‘different’ things are just for fun. And on that note… whilst sharks’ fin melons are easy to grow and produce a huge crop, they don’t taste of anything, so I’m never going to bother with them again.


Arthur went to New Zealand in exchange for some some fabulous art

In the autumn of 2013 I wrote my first post about bartering. Over the years I’ve managed some very satisfactory swaps. I’m particularly pleased to own two of Pauline’s wonderful creations, which were exchanged for Arthur the dragon and another bundle of crochet goodies, including two hedgehogs. Every day I look at the picture “Grow where you are planted” and my light catcher and I smile. I love the sort of connections I have made this way but, sadly, bartering has turned out to be difficult. I’ve never successfully exchanged professional services (teaching, editing or ecological consultancy) for goods or services – everyone understands money and so it’s the preferred method. I will keep trying, but apart from some wonderful exceptions I can’t classify my bartering as a success.


No longer refusing to darn

I have written a number of times about sewing (here, for example)… I keep returning to it, but I really have to confess that I don’t like making my own clothes. Other things I’m not so bad with… shopping bags and sock toys to name a couple… but not clothes. Time to accept it and stick to knitting and crochet I think! On the plus side, though, I’m coming to terms with mending and darning, in particular, is much less of a chore than it used to be. And, as I mentioned the other day, I’ve even managed to patch Mr Snail’s gardening jeans… a job I especially used to detest.

One project that has been a failure, despite initial high hopes, has been raising mealworms to feed to the hens. I have, over nearly two years, managed to maintain a colony of mealworms, but I have never managed to bulk up the population sufficiently to have enough to use as chicken feed. The whole thing has come to feel as if I am actually keeping the creatures for their own sake. And so, today’s ‘shed’ was, finally, to admit defeat. The hens made a good meal of the colony and I feel a great relief that I no longer have to try to make this experiment work. It’s good to try things out, but it’s also good to know when to let go.

So, that’s just a few of my adventures over the past four years. Writing this blog has yielded friendships, provided inspiration, served as a record what I’ve been up to and opened me up a whole community of like-minded people. There has been amazing kindness – the Masterpiece blanket being a particular example – and solace when I have been feeling blue. So thank you everyone! I hope you will keep visiting for another year.




Leave a comment


  1. Cheers! 🙂

  2. Congratulations and happy anniversary

  3. I will keep coming back!

  4. Happy anniversary! Hope you’ll keep finding new and wonderful ways to make the world a better place. And keep sharing them here. 🙂

  5. Congratulations Jan – four years is a long time to keep putting it out there! It was lovely to read of your growth as a blogger – and very lovely to see your photo of Arthur included 🙂 I see him and the hedgies and the flowers and antique buttons on a daily basis and while sometimes they become part of the surrounds as I busy myself with whatever, other times they are seen and you are in my thoughts with warm affection.

    I must say though I don’t see your mealworm outcome as a failure – surely it is better to have tried and discovered then never to have tried and never know……. that’s my new take on the old saw! 🙂 I was pawing through discarded background paintings yesterday looking for something that could be redeemed and used. I found nothing – but while looking I noted the many experiments that led to a new understanding of how to use or do something that came out well. I think I see you doing that all the time in the way you give things a go.

    Finally I can’t go without saying that while I love the name you have on this blog, the name you might have had makes me smile with delight! 21st Century Womble!! 😀 Isn’t it a great image!!

    Here’s to another four years of blogging Jan – happy days!! xo

    • Thank you, Pauline. As the spring arrives here in the north your light catcher is filling our lives with rainbows!
      You are right about the not really failing… although I think I might have let go of the mealworms sooner. Anyway, this year is all about getting the best out of the limery. I am absolutely loving seeing the plants growing in there. I have loads that need potting up at the moment which bodes well for future crops 🙂

      • Is the catcher still in the limery? I think it would be quite wonderful hanging in a place where sunlight is a constant – magic somewhere every day the sun shines!! I recall seeing your last photos of all the plants in the limery and being very impressed – it should be a bumper crop year. I hope your summer is better than mine was!

  6. Four years of time excellently spent 🙂 I don’t think you can say exactly that you’ve failed decluttering; it’s a continuous process of establishing clarity and focus to your thoughts and possessions, and the fact that you continue to do it means precisely that you *haven’t* failed! In terms of bartering using your professional services, have you considered investigating BitCoin?

  7. Happy anniversary! Here is to many more years 🍾

  8. Well done, you lovely Snails 11 🙂

  9. Though I haven’t been with you from the start Jan, this is a wonderful reminder of what you’ve shared with me. Thank you for the lessons, the advice, the kindness and especially the friendship you’ve shown me.
    I’ll be happy to keep visiting for years to come.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxxx

  10. That’s four good years! Here’s to 4 (8? 12?) more!

  11. Congrats on 4 years. I know how that feels as I’ve crossed that line myself awhile back. Blogs grow and change as we do. One of the things I like best about your blog is you write about what brings you happiness, not so much about what doesn’t. Everything has a positive slant to it. Even clutter clearing which is a never ending process if you are alive. We all grow and change and our focus changes. Your blog has done the same. It’s always lovely to visit here.

  12. It was lovely to look back on your successes, and your very few failures, and to see where you are right now – less bulky in goods, further on in your food yields, and so much more richer in friends – now that’s the kind of Blogging story we all hope to have! 🙂

  13. Happy anniversary!

  14. Paardje

     /  April 18, 2016

    Happy anniversary! And cheers to many more to celebrate 🙂

  1. Sunday Round Up #5 | Laidig's Broadway

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