370 days later…

IMG_7679I left London 1 year and 5 days ago on Friday 13th April 2012. Now apparently I live in the depths of Mid-Wales, in the woods overlooking the Dyfi estuary – perfection qualified slightly by the postage stamp size view I have of the sea, and the ongoing battle with mice in the beautifully crumbling, freezing wing of an old hunting lodge that I live in.

I live in a cluster of houses so I’m getting to practice rural idyll with neighbours, with two particularly special mentions going to Corrine and Daniel who have been the kindest of support in this strange experiment I’ve embarked on. I have a couch grass infested but gorgeous corner of the walled garden to grow veg in, my shopping list now includes both olive and chainsaw oil and I got an axe for Christmas. In 370 days I have completely changed my world.

I had intended to tiptoe into the local community in a cautious Londoner kind of way, but seem to have parachuted directly into the epicentre of my local village by becoming one of the managers of the new community run village shop and café. It’s a little unsettling having life and work so closely intertwined, London allows community but its scale also permits anonymity. One of the realisations of the past year has been that I’m not happiest when independent and flying solo but rather when part of something communal. There’s nothing more inspiring than a common mission be it work or play or ideally both at the same time…

I spent Tuesday in the shop loading in our first order (we open in just over 2 weeks) and discussing local suppliers.  When I left I turned left out of the forecourt rather than right to go home, the day was too fresh and smelt too good not to go to the beach. Ynyslas, the most stunning beach is 10 mins from my home, so I walked and sat for an hour and mulled and felt good about this curious journey I’m on.

I don’t know if I’m undermining myself by still calling this part of a transitional experiment but it’s hard to attach to a place when you arrive on your own. It takes longer to create your own niche. Machynlleth and the surrounding area is pretty exceptional though, there’s a feisty, fun, proactive crowd here, I think it’s probably easier to start out here than in many places.

I think you belong somewhere not when you have a place to live and a routine, but when you form strong connections. There are lovely people here but it takes time to form close bonds; I didn’t miss London when I last visited but I was really sad to leave my nearest and dearest. That said I have a thank you for my grandmother who I chatted to on Tuesday while lying in the sand dunes. I miss her and she misses me but she’s been nothing but full of joy and support acknowledging it as my adventure rather than my departure.

NYDay YnyslasCome and visit folks, it’s pretty special round these parts.


About Kate Fenhalls

This may or may not be my 41 year old gap year. Yesterday (2/4/12) may or may not have been my last ever day working in an office. Who knows, let's see what happens...
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8 Responses to 370 days later…

  1. Adam says:

    Looks like a wonderful place. I see you are in the depths of Mid-Wales – surely you can´t be both? Middle of the depths of Wales? I am in Santiago, which is apparantly is in the middle of nowhere, but I think end of nowhere/beginning of somewhere is probably more accurate. Err… anyway great post.

    I can´t pronounce any of the other places you are, but they look wonderful – bright sunshine, blue skies and a cool wind are also powerful things, enjoy.

    • Fomenting student protest in Santiago I hope… Lovely to hear from you my dear. This is mid-Wales and it is deep – that’s all I can say on that matter. Love to you and yours xxx

  2. Feimatta says:

    thanks for the update. cannae believe it’s 370 days since the fridge rattled off. reckon you’ve got yourself a pretty special nook to be making homely. will come visit again in the sunshine x

  3. pol says:

    And Visit I hope we will! Is the sun shining in North Wales yet? Any daffodils dared to raise their heads? My head is firmly stuck in work at the moment but I lifted it for a thought of you opening a new shop. Lovely. I hope I get to see it all in July. xxx

  4. susanpoozan says:

    Lovely to hear from you after all this time. I asked Luke, who mended a leaking tap for me the other day bless him, how you were doing. It all sounds very interesting and I hope you are starting to feel at home where you are. One of these days I hope to get to your part of the world, I love Wales.

  5. Glad Luke’s looking after you. COME AND VISIT anytime! I’ll be in London in the next month or so and I’ll be in touch before I do, it would be lovely to see you xx

  6. Daisy Heath says:

    We’d love to visit too. Let’s make plans when you’re next in London x

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