Tuesday, 17 November 2015


I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few days, as I’m sure we all have, about the attack on Paris on Friday.   I’ve been thinking about it through the mind of me – bringing it down to my level, with my lack of knowledge which is weighed against a sea of compassion.    I can’t understand it, or at least, I can, but feel helpless in the knowledge of it.   In a way, we have, as individuals so much freedom here in the West that it is amazing that an attack of this scale and type hasn’t happened before now.   We walk amongst strangers every day of our lives.   Our lives are filled with media and propaganda and an intense life, that it is no wonder as a race we hold different and extreme views on so many different points.   Don’t you think it’s amazing that knowing the amount of information; right or wrong; left or right, that is out there, that there hasn’t been more incidents of humans feeling their point and their point only is right.  That the only way to help the world on its way, is to get rid of everyone who doesn’t believe the same as them?   That’s what the West want to do, isn’t it?   Bomb the hell out of Syria and the Daesh and them to us.   It’s a complete and perfect recipe for self annihilation of the human race.  Our lack of acceptance of others views and ways to live is unwavering – in every corner of the world.   And we, the West, are as much to blame as anyone else.    We see atrocities being carried out on the other side of the globe and we cannot help ourselves but to intervene.    And now the same is being done to us.  

In some ways, we seem to have got it right when it comes to animals but not humans.   If our pets are too sick to carry on living we give them a peaceful and dignified end and yet try, at all costs to continue someone’s suffering in the name of love if they are human.   If we see a leopard hunting down it’s kill in the savannah, we don’t intervene but see it as nature doing it’s thing and yet we intervene when we feel an injustice is being carried out between humans, maybe without understanding the full consequence of our actions.   I don’t think the Middle East or China or many other places have good records of human rights, and in the past I would have said we are right to get involved but my mind is changing.   Maybe by trying to make the whole world live as we live, we threaten the whole of the human race.   Maybe, and I’m thinking out loud here, we, as a human race cannot be trusted with the levels of freedom we are so privileged to have here in the West.   Maybe, we shouldn’t be able to fly around the world and go wherever we choose.  And maybe we should not be exposed to the level of information that we are, as we cannot be trusted to act humanly with all of that knowledge.    Just the same as a whole class is punished if the child who threw a piece of chalk at the teacher doesn’t own up, we should all be punished for the few that reek havoc on our streets with such fury and vengeance.   I don’t know what the answer is.. I’m not sure there is one or at least a happy one.

Social media has never been more interesting or telling as it has over the last four days.   At first there was shock, followed quickly by complete solidarity.   The sea of the tricolore over Facebook was an amazing, small act demonstrating unity.   But after that the whole demeanour changed.   People started to get angry and defiant; many spouting all kinds of shit they didn’t understand or have all the facts for.   Bigotry seemed scarily rife, and some of my friends who I thought I held in high regard I have seriously contemplated defriending – not only on Facebook but in real life too, as it seems their intolerance and ignorance is not something I can understand or agree with.  Then there came the ‘But what about...’ crowd.   First from South African quarters telling us how quick we were to support the French but what about all the South African Farmers who had been killed over the years and where was their media coverage... almost blaming people for not mentioning them, for not highlighting them.   Insinuating that we didn’t care enough.    For every person that posted something along these lines, whether it be for South African Farmers or some other horrendous terrorist attack, it was the first time I had ever seen that person say something about it... as if they were trying to do a one-up-manship of hideous crimes against humanity.    Paris hit home to me because it was so close.   It could have been my sister, my friends, my mother and father in Paris that night.   It was people doing the same things I do on a Friday night.   Living the same cultural life as my family with the same amount of involvement in the Daesh fight as me... it hurt not only for the grief you feel for those families but because it could have been me, my husband, my sister, my friend.   So, do I not care for the South African Farmers or the people bombed in Beirut?   Of course, I do and no less than in France but as a human I respond to that which is close to me.  This happened next door.... and in all likelihood, it will happen here.

This brings me to my final observation of the last few days.   Fear.   We are strong people - sure.   We will not change the course of our lives for fear of a terrorist attack - sure.   But am I scared?   Yes.    Over the next few weeks I will fly to New York to celebrate my sisters birthday with my family and I have just committed to some work that will take me to London every few weeks.    I am no longer shielded by my lovely Park Mill Farm bubble and as I think of these things, then I have to admit, the chance of being blown out the sky or gunned down does cross my mind.   Am I being too dramatic?   I don’t know.  Maybe.   But I’m just being honest with you.   Will it stop me doing these things?  Absolutely not.   But I am a little bit scared.     Does that fear make me want to live better... Definitely.   I find myself being kinder, hugging the dogs more, appreciating my gorgeous husband, not worrying about the little things so much, since Paris.   I mean, it’s only been a few days and I’m sure the ‘kind’ thing will wear off fairly quickly but I will take that kindness as a tiny little pin prick of a silver lining amongst the big black cloud that is raining all kinds of shit down on humanity at the moment and I’ll keep it close.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Extreme Sport

Oh my God... I think I'm becoming addicted to shopping!   This has never happened to me EVER!...  Up until last month, at least 90% of my wardrobe was over 5 years old with at least 75% of that being over ten years old and 100% of it was mud stained jeans and off white (by which I mean, badly washed so they turn grey) tee shirts.    I blame this new occurrence on two things.   The first, and what probably started me off on this line of thinking, was the promise of our new life.  Post farm, I picture myself as a stylish, sassy, thin (not quite sure how I'm going to achieve that) woman, who showers EVERY day and wears make up EVERY day.    I got this idea from one of the estate agents who showed me around a house.  Ianthe, her name was, which should tell you all you need to know.  She turned up in her little, sporty Audi in skinny jeans, very high heeled open toed slingbacks, an extremely expensive silk shirt and a rock chick type leather jacket... well, I was impressed.   Obviously, it looked like she'd hadn't had a proper meal for the last twenty years but other than that, I thought to myself that one day, I would take more care in my appearance.  I, too, would look like Ianthe... and so the shopping seed was sown.

The second thing was a weekend visit from some lovely old friends of ours.   So as not to embarrass anyone, names have been changed, but my God, can Lesley Madigan shop!  Whilst the men were holed up in a pub in Nailsworth watching the rugby world cup, me, Lesley and her daughter, Isla, quietly spent the equivalent of the UK's national debt.  It was fab!   I wasn't even going to take my wallet... what a mistake that would have been!  As a result I walked away with a lovely shimmery evening top (not me at all, but very Ianthe and I love it!), a gorgeous cashmere poncho and a solid silver necklace.    I have always admired how Lesley dresses, she is one of those women who look effortlessly fabulous.  Not like Ianthe, who looks like she has taken hours to get ready and tried on 15 different outfits before plumping for the one she's in, Lesley just looks fab...even in her bloody pyjamas.    So now, whenever I go shopping I think to myself 'What would Lesley do?'   Invariably, the answer is 'Buy It!'

Of course, there is a small issue of funds that have to be addressed.   But in my mind, you see, we've already moved.   We no longer have the financial burden of a mahooosive mortgage coupled with years and years of intensive building and repair works to a run down mill.... in my head.    I know that these things will come to pass and in my more sensible moments realise it might be a good thing to wait until we are actually there, but who knew this could be so much fun!   Certainly, no one told me!

I have a history of jumping ahead of myself.   Years ago I went for an audition to be a contestant on 'Deal or No Deal'.    HA!  How times have changed - we don't even have a telly anymore.   Anyway, what they do, is give you a interview in front of a camera.   Well, to say I was nervous was a bit of an understatement and unfortunately when I get nervous I a. giggle profusely and b. have an exaggerated attack of verbal diarrhoea.   In amongst this 5 minute interview with me grinning inanely at the camera and occasionally spluttering into a fit of giggles, one of the questions was 'And if you won the £25,000 box, what would you spend the money on?'
'Oh, easy!'  I replied.   'I've already spent it!'
'Really??' said the interviewer in a very surprised tone.  'What on?'
'A kitchen extension, a fancy 'up in the air' hen house for my chickens, a mini polytunnel...' I whittled down the list quite quickly in a slightly deranged way.
'Oh, OK.  Errmmmm.   Well!   That's great!  I think we have all we need!  Thanks!'
It was only as I was on the train on the way home that I realised I forgot to say '..in my head.   I've already spent it, in my head.'   Needless to say they never called.  They were probably worried that I might try and sue if I didn't win.

Obviously, I can only tell you of my new hobby in the solid knowledge of the fact that my husband never reads my blogs.   He'd have a fit if he knew (as would Lesleys, I suspect), but do you know?  That's part of the fun.   It's like an extreme sport.    I've just brought a new pair of boots, a leather jacket and a chunky jumper on the internet.   I can only pray that it arrives when Olly is not here so that I can pretend that they are really old items of clothing that I've just taken out of retirement - the leather jacket may be a little tricky but I should be able to pull the wool over his eyes with the jumper!  ......Get it??   Never mind!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Bad day made good..

I’m having a shit day.     For reasons I can’t go into on here, life is not going exactly as planned.  It’s obviously not shit, shit... you know, I’ve got three H’s: Health, Home and Husband but it’s just a little rubbish.   So I have done what any self respecting person would do in my position.  First, I went to The Edge Cafe in Wotton and ate cake.   Secondly, with not a cloud in the sky, I went home got in the truck and drove it as fast as I dare around the fields.... guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face.  I don’t know what it is, but somehow, driving on grass is infinitely more fun than a road, if you add to that a bit of speed and a hidden bump, you have a divine recipe for a smile.   I am now in the middle of Buttercup Field, lying on a rug, typing this blog with the dog rolling around in the grass like a lune... b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l.    Even better, my husband has just called to ask where I am as he’s got home early.   Maybe this day isn’t so bad after all!   Although, he did ask what I was doing, which means his perception of me not doing a stitch of work is only going to be magnified ten fold!

...... It is now an hour or so later and my husband, having an equally shit day, thought it might lift our spirits to go and watch Fiji vs Wales in the Rugby World Cup at the local pub.    As it’s such a nice day, we decided to watch it in the smokers bit outside which also has a television.  We brought our pints and sat down in front of a large TV screen under a wooden structure which totally reminded me of a bar in the Costa Del Sol... I’ve never been to a bar in the Costa Del Sol, but I can imagine, that if I had, this is what it would be like.   
Even better, we both have our laptops in front of us and are busy going through emails and other such business things (my husband) or writing shit that’s in my head (me).  As a result, we look like a couple of Yuppies, in a bar in Costa Del Sol.     I can’t actually remember what Yuppie stood for.... I think it was Young Up and coming Professional... which means I am not a Yuppie.    I am not young.   I’m not up and coming and I’m definitely not professional.   What would I be?  MUFF????   Middle aged, Unsure of Future, Female??    That could be misleading... not the full version but the acronym.   “Hi, I’m a MUFF!”   I’ll use that as a conversation starter at the next drinks party I go to and let you know how I get on.

Talking of drinks parties – we don’t go to that many anymore but used to in our last village (and hopefully again!).  If we were ever invited to a party where we didn’t know anyone, Olly and I would play a little game.  Before we left we picked 5 words for each other.   Mine for Olly might be, for example, “Venereal Disease, Moist, Snatch, Anorack.”   Olly would then have to, in front of me, incorporate all of the words into one conversation with the same person.   I know it doesn’t sound like fun, but it’s actually hilarious!  We didn’t make that many new friends at these parties mind you, which is one downfall.    In fact, my husband has just reminded me of a time we were invited to Reading and Leeds Festival by our lovely friends Emma and Gareth.   Just as we got through the gates, Olly got a call from the BBC saying they would like to interview him live on the Six O’Clock News.   He had to leave immediately to catch a train into London, buying a shirt and tie along the way (doesn’t matter what’s under the desk), but before he went, Gareth told him he had to get the word “moist” into the interview.   If you could ever look up that interview, (which a. You can’t and b. You really wouldn’t want to) you will see my husband smirk, ever so slightly, as he explains how rats need water.    He has also made it his personal challenge to mention the word “moist” in any interview, press release, public statement of any kind in honour of that day.

Well, that’s it from me.. it’s the second half and although I am sure the Welsh are going to win, I would like to cheer Fiji on for a little bit.   Until next time!!  xx

Saturday, 26 September 2015


We’re away this weekend.   Without discussion I booked my husband and I into a gorgeous hotel on the north Cornish coast.   It is easier, I find, to do these things without talking about them first as my husband has a fantastic knack of talking me out of these things, promising me we’ll do something bigger and better another time, which rarely comes to fruition.    So here we are.    The weather is gorgeous, we have an amazing room overlooking the sea, there is a fabulous terrace where we can sip Sauv Blanc and watch beautiful sunsets and I am deliriously happy.    At the start of the weekend I promised myself that I wouldn’t post any pictures on Facebook, as I didn’t want to come across as smug or do exactly what I talked about last time – make out that my life is one massive piece of gorgeousness which proves to people I am sassy and successful and making the most of our time here on earth, blah, blah, blah.   And yet, something kept on niggiling at me.   I couldn’t stop myself.   It was like an itch that just wouldn’t go away.   A little voice whispering in my ear...”Come on!  People have GOT to know about this!    Don’t let this one go unnoticed!   Why keep it to yourself?   Go on.. post a photo!”    And so I did.   I posted a couple of photos with the comment “Happy!”    

WWWWHHHHYYYYYYYY??   Why did I feel the need to do that?   I feel like a complete smug prat now.   And also, WHO CARES??   Really!   Have I helped anyone by letting them know that I’m having a great time in Cornwall?    My close friends know that I’ve gone to Cornwall for the weekend, because I’ve mentioned it in conversation and I’m sure that they wish me a lovely time, and apart from that, no one else gives two hoots.     I promise that I am not going to post another photo on Facebook this weekend... probably... until that itch comes back... sorry in advance.

On another thread altogether, I have to say, I was a little taken aback by the response to my last post!   Loads of people emailed me and I had some amazing comments.   Thank you.    I will, of course, uphold my promise and write about each subject that was requested.... it will take a while to get through them all but a promise is a promise, after all.    Some of them I am looking forward to more than others mind you.  

 If you’d like to know when they come through it would be great if you could follow this blog.  (I've put a little widgety thing to a site called Bloglovin' which means you can follow it that way and see lots of other great blogs too).   That way I won’t have to advertise it on Facebook all the time!
By the way... just in case you missed them!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14469405/?claim=xgahtzbfszj">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


Once upon a time I believed everything I read on Facebook,  you know, about eight years ago, when it first came onto my technically challenged radar.   I believed, back then, that Rebecca Green had the most ‘gorgeous hubby’ who she adored beyond belief and ‘felt totally blessed’ and took her on amazing date nights every week.   I believed that Felicity Range had the most amazing lifestyle and went to all the best parties, looking fabulous, all of the time.  And I believed that Laura Pembleton was honestly satisfied with her life going to the gym and drinking coffee on a daily basis.    I truly believed them all.   And wondered how I had missed that train.   I was obviously standing on the platform at ‘Getting Life Sorted’ with all the other twenty somethings, waiting for the ‘Perfect Work/Friends/Family/Style Balance’ train to pull in, but must have got too distracted in a copy of Grazia, trying to work out how to get this sort of life, that I missed the train completely.  Everyone had got on, except me!   As a result, there I was in my mid to late thirties, listening and watching all these people’s lives unfold around me in a state of utopia and I couldn’t work out how I didn’t get on that train.   I mean, my life wasn’t bad.. in fact, I’d say it was a slightly above what I had expected.  I had a husband that I loved and who loved me, we had good friends and lived in a nice village...but THEIR lives... they were amazing!   Rebecca’s husband could have gone head to head with Prince Charming and made him look like a wife beater.   Felicity’s life seemed to jump out of the pages of Hello Magazine and Laura’s, although seemingly a little drab for me, satisfied her to the point where she never seemed to question her own success and achievements.

However, as life has gone on and my fascination with Facebook remains unwaivered, a veil of sceptism has settled over my laptop and I no longer read with awe at my lovely Facebook friends lives.   Whilst I know they are happy, I am sure, without a doubt, that Rebecca, although loving her husband to death, also wants to gauge his eyes out with a blunt pencil sometimes, and that Felicity, some Saturdays, probably sits on the sofa looking like an absolute dog and praying that she can feign illness rather than go out again.   Even Laura probably questions the meaning of her existence every now and again.... then again, maybe not.
So, it’s now come to a time where I have a crossroads in my life and choosing which path to take is proving a lot harder than I had first envisaged.    I have a life that I am happy with.   Certainly as happy as Rebecca, Felicity and Laura.  I have a husband who I love and who loves me, some good friends and a wonderful family.    However, it’s my work that needs attention.   We are moving from our beloved farm which makes me soon to be unemployed and there is a hole to be filled.    A couple of people have told me I should write, and whilst I would love to while away my days bashing out a blog or a best selling novel, I do feel the need to have something specific to write about rather than just a diatribe of thoughts in my head (a little like this!).   Maybe I could be an antidote to Facebook.   Instead of the glossy, lovely life that I would love everyone to think I had, maybe I should write a true, balanced perspective of life as a 45 year old woman.    In our soft fluffy, first world lives, I could write about the things that affect us.   How bloody tiring it is to maintain a Facebook life, how that when I go to a party I have to strut into the room feeling a size 10 when I know that in the changing room I felt, looked and actually was a size 14/16.  How, when my beautiful husband sits on a bit of chocolate on our duck egg blue sofa and then blames me for not putting it in a bowl for him that I want to ram the chocolate down his throat!   And how I struggle to put fresh greens and fruit into my Nutribullet when I really hanker after a Pot Noddle washed down with Haribo.    How to not worry if your donation pile to the Calais Refugee Crisis is not as big as your neighbours.  And, most importantly, how to remain sane, centred and satisfied with our lives without feeling the need to compete with those around us.   However fun it would be to write about all of this stuff, I don’t really feel there is a forceful market need for it.   I cannot see that it will be filling a social networking void that would otherwise leave women like me feeling insecure and permanently inadequate.... or maybe it would.     What do you think?  

Tell you what... email me a subject to write about and I’ll give you a 45 year old, middle class, woman’s perspective on it.    It can be on anything and I promise it will be my honest and bare point of view.    lara@parkmillfarm.com.

If I don’t get any emails I’ll take it as a sign not to go into a career in writing!!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Coming Full Circle

It has occurred to me, that whilst the need for the blog and the incidence of having anything worthwhile to say on farm life has lessened as we settled into day to day life and an annual cyclical rhythm of the seasons, now, at the start of our journey of exiting the farm the exact same cathartic reasons for beginning it, once again exist.

Yep, that's right... we're off.   Not immediately, but the farm has been sold and so the process of readjustment to another completely different life begins.    I am sure this won't come as 'news' to a few of you as the lady in the Shell petrol station in Wotton knew we'd sold the farm and I didn't even realise she knew where I lived!

Over the last three months there have been a hugger mugger of thoughts and emotions cramming my head, all jostling for some attention.     They have been as contrasting and as juxtaposed than anything I have ever experienced (my friend Emma can back me on this, poor girl); from grief and sadness; anger and resentment to ecstatic and excited.  Depending on where and when you find me there could be any one of those emotions dominating my head which is probably why I am at my most lonely too (Emma lives too far away).... but more on that later.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love it here.   I truly believe that this 20 acres is the most magical, warm, beautiful 20 acres in all of Gloucestershire.  Our experiences here have been bountiful and amazing and range from fantastic parties to timid trolls; fun friends and fraught farrowing.   If I had my time again I wouldn't change a thing.... well... maybe one or two things, but would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.   I only hope that I've managed to trap some of those fantastic memories within this blog so that I may, in the future, read back and remember this amazing time.  I hope I remember how little we knew when we first arrived and acknowledge how far we've come.  I hope I remember how friggin' cold it was and be able to look back and laugh - just the way I promised myself I would when we sat in the sitting room in bobble hats, gloves and big, thick coats.  I hope I never forget how privileged I was to watch my piglets farrow or to lie in the butter cups looking up at a perfect blue sky or to witness the hundreds of stunning sunsets over the village from the Cow Shed.    All of these things I never want to forget and every memory, whether good or bad, has shaped our incredible journey here.

So, if you love it so much, why are you leaving?  I hear you ask.   The reasons are many and probably far too personal and political to detail here, but suffice to say I am a true believer of never actually owning a building but of rather being a custodian of it, nurturing it for future generations.   When we came here there was nothing but a derelict, overgrown huddle of buildings in amongst a thicket of Ash trees and brambles.  What I hope is that we have breathed life into the farm and given it a future it might otherwise not have had.   I am sure that there are a thousand other people out there that could have done a better job of it than us and that who probably would have been better placed to do it than us, but at the time - and the silence and lack of arm movement in that auction room when we brought it was living proof - nobody wanted the job except us.  Six and a half years later and we've taken it as far as we can.  Financially and emotionally, we are spent.  If we are true custodians of this place then we must step aside and let someone else, with fresh drive (and a buoyant bank balance) take it to its next level, whatever that maybe.

We've had an absolute blast and made some friends along the way (although we've lost some too) and although I don't doubt that we will be forgotten before we've hit the village boundary, I hope the farm remembers us as time goes by.

Over the next few months as we start to sort through all our stuff and watch the changing of the seasons as we slowly pack up, I'll write on this blog from time to time, planning and plotting our future while saying a very painful goodbye to our past.  

I write for me.   I find it one of the most releasing things to do when everything is at sea around me.  I try to write honestly without hiding from the more prying emotions... I guess what I'm trying to do is apologise in advance for anything that may follow.....  I don't mean to offend.