I am not new to smallholding - or blogging. I once wrote a blog with the same name, chronicling my experiences, what feels like a lifetime ago. I also blogged the bit in between.
Although I am still a wannabe Part-Time Smallholder, everything else has changed. I am so glad I kept a record - although it felt like I was just capturing the mundanities of every day life back then, it is lovely to look back on.
I think that once you have the virus for growing your own and living by the seasons, you never shake it off.
You might think you have a yearning for high heels, the power of corporate life and the trappings of a good income. To be able to fling anything into your supermarket trolley without much regard for the price, spend two weeks in Mauritius or get a cleaner on the basis that an extra two hours of your time not spent cleaning, in your overstressed world, is worth the money (all very nice things, admittedly).
But you will clap a wistful eye on someone else's beautiful vegetable patch and feel a pull a bit like a young child tugging at your sleeve for attention. You will notice the that the quality of the light has changed as you scurry to your car in the morning, or the first nip in the air, and feel like you are missing a party. You will wince at the cost of courgettes or eggs in the supermarket - not because you can't afford them, but because you remember a time when you literally couldn't give them away fast enough!
Now please don't think I am suddenly hugely affluent - I am not, far from it. But the result of focussing on work and sorting life out in general, was that for the first time, I am almost financially secure. I have met a wonderful new man, and we are getting married. I feel like I can more safely plan for the future (to the degree that any of us can).
When I was writing the blog originally, life was incredibly rich in so many ways, but I was really struggling financially - the sort of 'it's the 20th and we only have £20 to live on' kind of struggling, with final notices coming through the door almost every other day and constant stress about how we would cope. Renting was expensive and debts meant any spare income went on repayments. It also meant I had to do everything the hard way, because innovations or equipment that was expensive, was out of the question. That said, I look back on that period with so many happy memories.
I have learned some precious lessons about money. Now I am very lucky that I am in a better financial position. We own our house (well - the mortgage company does) and although not rich, we are comfortable enough. For the brief months where I have been able to go and spend extra money on 'things' like clothes, meals out or holidays, I can't honestly say I have been extra happy. It seems that once you have reached a threshold - a financial security threshold I suppose - your happiness does not increase in parallel with the extra income beyond what you need to feel safe. If money is no object, you lose the value of things.
What my life needs to be complete now, is to grow, nurture and fall back into rhythm with the seasons.
As I am still chained to the desk - for now at least - I have kept the name 'The Part Time Smallholder' but started afresh with this blog. I can't wait to see where it leads!