I cannot believe we have already spent a whole year here at the cottage retreat! And what a year 2016 has been. The EU referendum, the US presidential elections, the migrant crisis and horrors seen in Syria, the deaths of so many famous and inspiring people including Carrie Fisher, George Michael and Alan Rickman to name a few.
But what did 2016 have in store for us? I wanted to take some time to recap and reflect on what I have learnt and what has happened during our first year living in our cottage retreat.
Finding our feet in 2016
We had our own personal loss at the beginning of the year, and it definitely impacted how we approached 2016. This was especially true for MrCR who was devastated by the loss of his father to one of the most destructive diseases I have witnessed: dementia. This put him on a back foot as he confronted his grief and anger at the loss and a lot of our time this year has been working together to help him come to terms with his depression.
It has been terrible to watch such a strong man, who has always been my rock, falter and stumble through this year and my hope is that 2017 brings him a new lease of life and a fresh love for all that our life still has to offer.
Failing with funds in 2016
Coupled with MrCR’s depression came a reliance on spending to numb the pain. This as well as some of the costs associated with moving house and purchasing products needed in our new home, including fridge, dishwasher and other not considerably excessive purchases, we have slipped back and now have some minor debt. This, for me, is especially heartbreaking.
I have thought a lot about this over the past 6 months or so. Why it has happened and how we can stop it happening again. Especially as there was no reason for it to happen except that we were spending above our means. Which didn’t need to happen. And it makes me very very angry.
Foraging and gardening in 2016
A great aspect of our move was the small vegetable plot that came with the cottage. I had so much fun gardening this year and walking around the countryside to find prime foraging spots. I learnt a lot this past year about growing our own food, and shared most of our experiences visually via Instagram.
It has been so spiritually positive to grow and then cook and eat our own food I recommend it to anyone,even if you only have a windowsill you can have a few pots of herbs.
Even better has been finding new ways to preserve our food, including getting our hands on a dehydrator which is especially fun and opens up a whole new avenue for food preservation and storage. Examples have included making a spicy and sweet courgette relish and also dehydrated orange powder. I’ve not been very good at uploading recipes this year but plan to do better in 2017!
Finance positives in 2016
I have had great fun at my new job this last year and it has been very positive to have a good work/life balance through flexible working. Also positive has been my increased salary.
However because MrCR has not been earning the money he should be bringing it, we have not been saving as much as we should have been and are behind on our savings targets. (or even in debt!)
We got a tax rebate which was positive and helped to reduce some debts back in September. I also got additional PPI compensation back in the Summer which was an unexpected bonus! However one thing we didn’t do (which still needs to be done) is to contest for compensation from payday loan companies for unfair lending while we were at our lowest.
We also worked out what was most important for us, its not necessarily early retirement, which seems so far off at this moment anyway but rather financial freedom.
Finding time for myself in 2016
I think this is mostly because it has been so hard to have time to myself like I used to when MrCR worked long hours, and also not being able to afford to take a break just for myself to rejuvenate. I think it has also been because I have had to provide so much mental and physical support to MrCR. But it is never good to neglect yourself: that’s what I have learnt from 2016!
This all sounds very doom and gloom reading back on it. While our time at the cottage retreat has, this year, been tinged with sadness and loss, it has also been the release I always hoped it would be.
My job is going well, I love being so close to the outdoors and immersed in nature and the character of the property satisfies all those needs for somewhere cold, drafted and poorly insulated!!
Further, the kitties have loved being free to run around and we even introduced a further furry into the fold this year with the addition of another rescue cat: our maine coon monster: Minksy!
It has taken a long time to get the balance right this year and I’m hoping that I have now nailed it and can dedicate more time back to you, dear readers, and this blog.
So to all new subscribers this year, thank you for finding me! To all my long-standing readers: thank you for sticking with me!
Here’s a quick list of things we discovered in 2016:
- we realised our cats who were terrible at catching mice in our flat in London are actually expert hunters and killing machines!!
- I found out how easy it is to plant something thinking its something else – for instance i could have sworn i planted red cabbages this last year (I actually planted butternut squash but for a while thought I’d created a courgette/pumpkin hybrid!!)
- stinging nettles sting, a lot, especially when you grab them amongst your carrots in the veg plot!
- old houses are COLD, very cold!
- commutes into London (and back out) are always a culture shock!
- being closer to family is fantastic!
I hope you have all had a wonderful 2016 and I will be posting my aims for 2017 very soon!
If there is something you have really enjoyed from me this year on on this blog in general do let me know in the comments below and I can aim to do more of that in the new year!
And if you’re not already following me on my other social media accounts please do!