Five today

WordPress informs me that today is my five-year blogiversary. Yay! Shall we celebrate? There’s home-made lemon drizzle cake (eggs from the garden, lemons from the limery) and a pot of tea made with real leaves (no plastic teabags here).

Frankly, I’m quite astonished that I’ve managed to write so regularly for five years: previously I’ve been rubbish about keeping any sort of diary. I think that it’s probably you, the readers that have kept me going… I’ve made so many friends and so enjoy reading your comments.

Over the years I have, apparently, written 870 posts (excluding this one), but I thought it would be fun to choose one post from each year to mark this special day.

On 1 September 2012 I wrote a post entitled 21st Century Womble. It may be one of my all-time favourite posts. In those days I didn’t always include a picture and so this particular post is just words, but I still like it. In it, I mention finding an old spatula whilst out for a walk and bringing it home to use as a scoop to clean out the chicken house. And, you know what? I’m still using that object… it’s still going strong and I’m still a Womble at heart.

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Yes – it is worth growing potatoes

In August 2013 I turned my attention to the humble potato, asking the question Is it worth growing potatoes? At that time I had been experimenting with various more exotic crops and not necessarily enjoying them – I don’t mind oca, for example, but I wouldn’t want to eat it every day. Potatoes, on the other hand guarantee me a crop I like, but since they are easy and relatively cheap to buy, I wondered whether it was really worth bothering. The resounding answer was ‘yes’ – apart from avoiding all the associated pesticides and transportation, there is the simple joy of eating delicious, freshly harvested potatoes and knowing exactly where they have been.

 

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Charlotte’s books

No celebration of this blog would be complete without mentioning the all-time most-visited post. It still gets dozens of views every month and it originally appeared in May 2014. Why is it so popular? Well, I didn’t write it! It is the post that contains the full text of a poem entitled Just in Case by the late Charlotte Mitchell. My blog is, as far as I know, the only place on the net that you can find this poem and the book that it was originally published in is out of print. Don’t think, though, that I ignored copyright. In fact I contacted the author’s daughter, Candy Guard, to get permission to quote it. Hopefully one day Charlotte’s work will be republished, but until then The Snail of Happiness and second-hand bookshops are the only places to find what is probably her most famous poem (do follow the link and read it – I’m sure you will enjoy it).

 

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Abundance in the limery – year 1

New readers may be a little confused about my frequent references to The Limery (it’s what we call our plant-filled conservatory). You can, however, read about its origins and the search for a suitable name here. Regular readers from the time will recall my distress at having an influx of builders, but, as you all told me, it was really worth it in the long run. Today the limery is bursting with plants and it’s hard to remember life without it!

 

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WWKIP 2016

And finally, I have to choose a post about yarn. Perhaps that one that sums up all that is good about knitting and crochet is about what we did last year for Worldwide Knit in Public day. On the Street Where You Knit describes how I spent the day sitting outside The Make It Shop teaching folks to knit and making twiddlemuffs. I met lovely people, shared skills and made something for charity… what more could I ask for?

 

So, there we are, a selection of old posts that gives a flavour of what The Snail of Happiness is all about… and I managed not to mention knickers! Here’s to another five years of writing, crafting, gardening and trying to be that bit more sustainable.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

cheers

Cheers!

 

With Snail and I

Aw, shucks…

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Aristophanes told a good story. Well, Plato made him. The former claimed that the gods, being angry about something (as per usual), decided quite literally to split humans in two, to make them sorry and afraid (the way all gods work in fact). At the time, your average human was a hybrid male and female, with four of everything we now have two of. Knitting jumpers was a challenge but you were never alone and you could always see where you had been as well as where you were going, simultaneously.

Once split, humans would forever be searching for their other half. Ha ha ha said Zeus, or Apollo or whoever, before nipping off to be a white bull for the evening.

Now, my Dad told me that story and no one made him. I was five years old at the time and expecting Thomas the Tank Engine, but…

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Happy Birthday – Three Today!

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Fizz and kitchen chaos!

I’ve just discovered that this is my third blogiversary… if I’d realised I would have made a cake. Sadly I’ve got no one to share a cake with as Mr Snail has just driven off into the drizzle for his latest week working away in England. Actually, we did open a bottle of fizz last night, for no other reason than because we felt like a celebration, so perhaps we had a premonition. Mr Snail even photographed it on his tablet (hence the poor quality or the picture). We enjoyed it with local smoked trout, potato wedges tossed in paprika and a green salad partially out of the garden, accompanied by homemade mayonnaise – a delicious and very simple meal mostly made with very local ingredients.

Over the past three years I have made some lovely friends here in blogland. I’ve been sad to see bloggers disappear, and delighted when they sometimes return. I’ve written over 500 posts (probably a couple of novels-worth) and chalked up more than 6000 comments! My word, we really do have a dialogue.

Some of the highlights of my time writing this blog have been through different sorts of contact – Skyping with Kate, letters from Karen, seeds from Patrick, swapping a picture for a dragon (he’s on his way) with Pauline, being gifted snowflake bunting from Dani, antique crochet from Kerry and a sketchbook from Anne… to name but a few. I’ve also enjoyed sending gifts of fabric and handmade items, although I seem to have rather lost track of exactly what has gone where!

Of course, the big project that many of you contributed to was my masterpiece… I’m snuggled into it as I write (yes, that’s British spring weather for you). In fact, I’m hoping to have some little gifts to share with those of you who sent a square (or two) very soon… I won’t tell you what yet, but if I don’t have your address, I may be in touch in the next week or so…

Anyway, I really just wanted to say thank you for reading and making this blog such a lovely place to spend my time. And here’s to many more years

CHEERS!

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