A reflection on Bank Holidays past

slowing down a bookish baker

This Bank Holiday, over the May Day weekend, was a little different to ones we've had previously. Whereas in the past we've used the weekends to work outside as much as we can (making us exhausted come Tuesday morning) this weekend the sun forced us to slow down. 

It wasn't just the sun, however. We are finally learning to slow down and enjoy our slower pace of life. 

Plus, in all honesty, the big projects are done. Indoors and outdoors. Now, we just need to keep on top of it all - which in itself can be a little overwhelming at times. 

So as well as cleaning the patio, weeding, moving bricks, mowing the lawn, mowing the stream bank, and potting up new plants - we also went out for lunch by the river. Then we came home, ate homemade ice-cream sundaes and plotted where we're going to put our new above ground swimming pool. (Sounds posh doesn't it? But it's a few hundred pounds and will get plenty of use after a hard day in the garden. My son, at well over six foot, couldn't get in a normal paddling pool now!)

In the six years (almost) that we've been living here we've not seen our garden as a place to relax and enjoy the surroundings. We've looked out at the land and thought of all the jobs that need to be done. Even now, I've just walked outside in the sunshine as a way of banishing writer's block and I saw a silver birch that needs re-staking, so it never stops.

BUT - now we're thinking how can we enjoy our surroundings more. 

That's why we cleaned the patio. That's why we've banned the chickens and ducks from coming into the garden (despite having a field, a stream and lots of trees they still want to wreck my borders and poop on my patio), that's why I bought some new planters and various plants for the patio. 

For the first time in, well, ever, I'm walking around and thinking, isn't this gorgeous? WE did this. And I'm not seeing (as many of) the tasks.

I showed you a before and after shot of the wild cherry in 5 things I couldn't do before moving to the country. Well, here's another. 

The picture below on the left, taken in the late winter of 2013, is the area that was full of nettles, thistles and all manner of rocks and stones. We cleared it (back breaking work) then put the chickens there with an electric fence (the chickens are no longer there but that's another story to do with a fox!)

Then we planted the fruit trees starting with the apple on the bottom left. 

Obviously the leaves on the trees make everything different anyway, but to see everything settled, lush and flourishing is incredibly heartwarming. 

This morning I haven't woken up shattered and in need of another weekend off. Five years of sweat, tears and yes, sometimes blood, does feel worth it now. 

I was just thinking and even wrote - I wouldn't do it again. But, if I did move house with a similar situation I wouldn't have to. Because part of the problem over the past five years is we were clueless and had to learn a lot. 

All this hard work meant I would dread spring and summer because of all the outdoor jobs. This year I'm trying to embrace it. (Though I have started an autumn board on Pinterest!)

So, here's to a lovely summer. Full of blue skies, a beautiful (if slightly overgrown) garden and splashing in the pool.

chickens in a young orchard