A busy home

I've made the first steps towards our new season garden. It will be planted up some time in March but before that, we'll have the chooks in there to search for bugs and scratch around, and then we'll start the process of improving the soil. This is done throughly every March when the garden is bare and again every time a plant is harvested and removed, before a new plant goes in, more manure and organic matter is added. Doing that gives us healthy crops that can stand up to small invasions of caterpillars or grasshoppers and it gives the vegetables a really good taste.




So far I've potted on parsley seedlings and sown sweet peas seeds and heirloom tomato seeds - a French variety called Rouge de Marmande, a delicious ruby red tomato. I'm also on the lookout at the nursery and markets for some grafted heirloom tomatoes. I have no doubt many cherry tomatoes will start popping up in the garden as soon as the weather is milder and the soil wetter.  They grow like weeds here so we pull out most of them and keep one or two of the healthy ones.

If they find any new place to lay an egg, our girls will be there.  This is one of the holes Hanno dug to replace the water pipes.

Hanno has almost finished the huge job of installing an electronic fence to keep Gracie in, even when the front gates are open. That will also keep her out of the bush house, her favourite outdoor spot, where she's been chewing plastic pots and digging in all the terracotta pots that are standing on the ground. Hanno also finished a big plumbing job a week ago when he found the source of a water leak in the ground on the side of the house. He dug up the pipes and replaced the old leaking metal pipes with new plastic ones.  Not bad for a 76 year old. I suggested we get someone in to do the job but he insisted he wanted to do it and by taking it slow, he got the job done and we saved a couple of hundred dollars because he did the work.



Inside the house I've been organising the linen cupboard, tea towel drawer and stockpile cupboard.  I'm slowly working my way through other drawers and cupboards too and will soon tackle the gadget drawer, the plates and bowls drawers and two cupboards holding my saucepans and bake ware. This isn't my favourite kind of housework but that feeling satisfaction when everything is clean and tidy and ready for the work ahead outweighs the hesitation of doing it. Well organised cupboards contribute to the running of a home as much as a pair of extra helping hands.


I'm struggling through the jumper I'm making for Alex. The top-down, one piece pattern I'm using isn't complicated but it's not clearly written so I've had to redo a few rows at the top of the raglan sleeves. Still, having a project that will produce a warm and serviceable garment for one of my loved ones is worth a bit of frustration and unpicking. I rarely go through any knitting without unpicking some of it. I know that once I'm passed the sleeve stage, it's all plain and easy knitting from then on so I'm soldiering on.  😇

The weather has become milder here in the past couple of days.  I was watering the garden earlier and it was a perfect temperature with a lovely breeze in the backyard. A new season ahead for all of us, friends.  I wonder if you're looking forward to it as much as I am.


25

Weekend reading


She makes me smile and laugh, this dog of ours. She's little but she's strong and fast and she gets into mischief every single day. Hanno is putting in an electronic fence at the moment so we can let her out into the front garden as well as the back.  One of her favourite places outside is the bush house. She's been chewing on plants in there and wrecking plastic pots so the new fence will keep her out of the bush house too. It should be ready early next week, then we have to train her to use it. She's pretty smart so I'll think she'll pick it up quickly. 

I'm closing the Down to Earth Forum in mid-March. I've run it with help from a small group of volunteers for the past 8 years. Now I'm looking forward to stepping back and spending time with my family. It will be sad to see it go but I'm sure the members will relocate to other sites and maintain their friendships and connections.  Registrations have closed on the forum.

I haven't had much time for reading online this week but here are a few of the places I visited:

19

An old quilt

Quite a few of you commented on how nice our blue quilt is (see previous post). I've blogged about this before but we must have a lot of new readers here, so let me explain the blue quilt again.  I bought the blue quilt at Ikea a few years ago when I needed a bed covering that hung down to the floor on both sides of our bed.  In winter, we have a top flannel sheet and a doona/duvet but they only hang to the bottom of the mattress. To be really cosy in a winter's night, we need a longer top covering.  The blue quilt is ideal, running from floor to floor over the top of the mattress.


But not to disappoint the quilters out there, I found the first quilt I ever made. I've only made two full quilts and this is the first one; the second was Shane and Sarndra's wedding quilt.  I made this little single quilt in 1980 when Shane was a tiny baby. A year later I had two tiny babies when Kerry was born 12 months after Shane.  I needed a cover to put on the floor so I could put both of them down. As they grew, we used the quilt as a play mat, a tent and a hide away and any number of other things. I think we even used it as a quilt for a while. I haven't seen the quilt for years but found it again this week when I cleaned out the linen press. There it was in all its unpretentious glory, lurking at the back of the cupboard.




As you can see in the photos, the quilt has been well and truly used and it's been washed many times. I don't remember much about its construction, only that in the late 1970s, I bought a bag of pre-cut Laura Ashley patchwork squares and set about sewing them together when Shane was sleeping. The backing is an old brown sheet and all the stitching is done on the machine. It's not made well, it's very simple but it holds a lot of memories for me.  It's in need of repair now with one of the squares frayed and unstitched and all along the edge, signs of wear and age need some sympathetic hand sewing. I'm not going to replace or hide any ageing fabric, the wear is part of the quilt now and I want to keep that, but I will tidy it up and repair the obvious.

This is the Around the World wedding quilt I made for Shane and Sarndra. Tricia helped me piece it together and my DIL Cathy did the machine quilting.

When the quilt has been repaired, I'll return it to its former productive role and use it to protect my off white lounge from the grandkids. I like to use everything I have. Everything I own now has to work for its keep. It should have another 10 years of life left in it, I think I do too, so as soon as it's repaired, I'll put it to work on the lounge and it will be part of my daily life again.

Do you have any of your old handmade quilts still doing service in your home?

25

Including the mistakes

This time last year, Hanno and I set off on a three week book tour. We came home feeling happy and optimistic after having met hundreds of people around the country. We were also incredibly tired and it took a couple of weeks to get back to 'normal'. That arrival back home signalled the start of my retirement. I've been retired for almost 12 months now so it's time to think about how I'm going, if changes need to be made and if I can improve on what I'm doing. This kind of self assessment is ongoing because I want to be in control of my life. That doesn't stop the unexpected from happening but when it does happen, it's easier to deal with because I'm working to a plan which is shaped by what's happened in the past and what we need to happen in the future.
I guess the common idea of retirement is to stop paid work and then spend time relaxing with hobbies, travel, family and friends. I stopped working for a living many years ago and I concentrated my time and energy on my home. I reinvented how I lived. Instead of working for money, I worked to reduce the amount I had to spend by making, instead of buying, what we needed. I made a new life for myself by doing that, I became a different person too. The days when money and shopping were the focus of life stopped and a new era of self-reliance and productivity started. The change in mindset ensured success in this new life and I found that I didn't have to penny pinch and become an expert on shopping for bargains because the changes I made pushed me towards becoming productive at home instead. Laundry products were made at home instead of bought at the supermarket, food was grown in the backyard and not always sourced from elsewhere, food wastage stopped, recycling, mending and craftiness replaced the ingrained belief that everything valuable was on sale somewhere.  I discovered that real life and the things I needed to live it, were available right here in my home and I paid for them mainly with my time and effort.
A mis-matched bed is a pure joy to me. We don't need to have matching grey linen sheets with 20 pillows to be comfortable in bed.  All we really need is clean and fresh cotton sheets on a bed that is made every day. 

Now my life has slowed down a lot. I do what I want to do, I express my creativity in a number of ways and I think a lot. And while all that is happening, time seems to be moving faster. I guess it's a byproduct of ageing. Our ages dictate a lot of what we do now. We have to be careful not to get too hot or tired so we work and have breaks, many more than we once did. I think the key to successful ageing is to accept the changes that come your way. That's what I'm doing and it seems to be working. One thing is for sure, ageing isn't for wimps. You have to be tougher than old boots to survive it.

I think the retirement part of my life is working well.  I'm happy to get up every morning. The work I do in my home keeps me interested, I have the opportunity to spend time with my family and friends and I when I look back I feel satisfied with my life and how I spent my time. I can't say I never made mistakes because I made a lot but I did learn from them and I know that I am the woman I am today because of the way I've lived and everything I've done, which includes the mistakes.


So there will be no major reshuffle after this reassessment. I think I'll just keep on keeping on and this week:
  • I'll continue to plan my soon to be planted vegetable garden.
  • I'll try to track down and catch a mouse I saw in the kitchen. Ugh. 
  • I have to put pockets on all my aprons.  This is because we're training Gracie and I need treats/bribes to be close.
  • I'll continue with Alex's jumper that I cast on late last week. I'm shaping the raglans at the moment.
  • I'll set up Pocketbook - a budgeting app.
  • As part of the continuum, I'll continue to focus on needing and using less.
  • And, of course, I'll take time out for myself to think, plan, rest and appreciate what I have. If I don't value myself enough to do that, I might as well give up.
With the seasons about to change I guess there are many of us who are preparing for the coming season. What are you doing this week?

35

Weekend reading


It's been a busy week full of simple home tasks, family, dogs and thoughts of changing seasons and what that means for me and my home. Nothing stays the same, that's for sure, and while I look forward to the weekend and next week, it has hit me that it's almost a year since we packed the car and took off for three weeks on the road for our book tour. That time has gone by so fast. It seems like yesterday when I signed that contract and sat down, in 2015, to write the first chapters.

Thanks for your comments and visits this week. I hope you have something good planned for the weekend. We'll have all the grandkids here tomorrow and a day in the garden or planning the garden on Sunday.  I'll see you again next week.  ♥︎

Simple beauty washcloth pattern by Salihan at Ecoyarns.  This is a great tutorial if you're starting out with knitting or crochet or if you just want a simple pattern for easy knitting.
The wonders of afternoon tea - so many good ideas here
Timeless advice on writing
Cutting into hand knits - steeking
Steeking a cardigan
For my overseas readers - Sydney (my home town) webcam
The Great American Baking Show
And finally, my mother studied the piano at the Sydney Conservatorium and was a gifted pianist. Maybe there is some of that in my blood because when I read this, I understood the feeling and the need. I'm smiling at you, Phil.

7

A slow busy week ahead

It was 42C on the verandah here yesterday but I believe it was much hotter out west. I'm very grateful we have an air-conditioned house. Last night was one of the few nights since we've lived here that we let the air-conditioner run all night. Yesterday and Saturday were spent mainly indoors after watering the plants and filling up plenty of water troughs for the chooks. These days are bad enough for us but I think how the native animals, birds and insects are faring, especially when their habitats have been wiped out for housing developments.  It's not a wise move to leave food out for native wildlife but it's essential to leave water out in shaded places. Usually it will help keep your local birds and insects hydrated, but on extremely hot days it can be the difference between life and death.

I finished off my shawl on Saturday and cast on a boy's seamless jumper in grey cotton.  We have mild winters here so a cotton jumper generally keeps young bodies warm. It will give me a project to work on when I'm sitting in the lounge room and I'm hoping to have it finished by early July.

Yesterday I made white nectarine jam. Peaces and nectarines are my favourite fruit and it's always a treat to eat them, ripe and cold, during summer. I'm partial to the late season free stone varieties and this year, Hanno found some under-ripe white nectarines for $3 a kilo. They are perfect for jam making so he bought 2 kgs.  Yesterday I made up one batch, netting us two large jars of jam.  I'll make up the others today. Four jars of nectarine jam in the cupboard  won't go far so I looked through my preserves books to see what else I can make from fruit easy to find and not too expensive.






I'd like to have enough jam to do us through the year - even if we have a visit from my sister who is the queen of jam on toast, with tea, for breakfast. Jam is such an easy thing to make and homemade tastes so much better than commercial jam.  In the coming weeks I'll make some dried apricot jam and orange marmalade and I'll be on the lookout for local strawberries in early winter. That should keep us in jam for the entire year.

This will be a big week for Gracie. This afternoon she's going to the groomer to be thoroughly washed and clipped. That is in preparation for her trip to the vet on Wednesday when she'll be spayed.  She's six months old now and the vet recommended that as the best time to carry out the procedure.  She'll have stitches after the operation and I want her nice and clean so she's not too uncomfortable when she's recovering.

Gracie with her teddy bear. She takes it out to the fence to show the chickens.
 And then she brings it back and gently places it in the shade.
 At night she sleeps on her back close to either Hanno or me.

Grace has spent most of the last two days inside the house spread-eagled on the floor in front of the air-conditioner. She goes out early morning, again at lunch time and late afternoon. When she's ready to come back in she barks once at the back door, and we, her servants, wander over to open the door for her.  She devised the system and it's working well. 😃

I have a slow busy week ahead and I'm looking forward to doing a few things in my home as well as planning and mapping out the new season garden that will be planted up in March.  Since we reduced the size of our garden and the number of plants we grow, it's essential to choose the right ones. It's time to sow some seeds in trays in the bush house so when this hot weather ends, we'll be ready to plant our seedlings out in the garden. When I work it out, I'll tell you about our plans for this year's garden.

I hope you all have a lovely week. Take care in the heat and cold, my friends. xx
34

Weekend reading


I'm really looking forward to the end of summer so I can get back into baking and doing housework without sweating or needing to sit down afterwards.  Boy oh boy, has this been a hot summer.

Hello to everyone who comes by, I'll see you again next week.  ♥︎

The three questions that every patient should ask their doctor
Gather around the family table
Herbal medicines can have dangerous side effects, research reveals
What to Make of Those Animal-Welfare Labels on Meat and Eggs
Heatwaves to be hotter, longer and more frequent
Australian weather heats up
Dog day afternoons: caring for your pets in extreme heat
How to keep hens safe in a heatwave
And just to show that Australia isn't the only country experiencing extreme weather, here is a video from New York where they had thunder snow.
Room to grow: The garden for generation rent to take with them
Le orecchiette - You Tube
Chocolate chip mint Greek yogurt pops

I'm adding one extra link so we can help Humble Wife with her project.



15

Buttermilk chicken and fruit cordial

Here's another recipe that is good to eat in summer or winter. It is started the night before and marinated overnight, the preparation and cooking the following day takes about 30 minutes. You can do a plain version using only salt and pepper or a mild spicy version using the spices below without the chilli, or a hot version, depending on who will be eating it.  This is great hot or cold so it's good for picnics and lunch boxes, particularly wrapped in flatbread with a salad.

The buttermilk tenderises the chicken and usually keeps it moist during the cooking.  I have tried frying the chicken until it's cooked and I've tried oven baking the chicken until it's cooked. The combined frying and baking method works best for taste and visual appeal.

 SPICY BUTTERMILK CHICKEN 
Makes 2 - 3 portions

2 skinless chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk

½ cup plain flour
1 tablespoon paprika
½ tablespoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Oil for frying

Cut up chicken breasts into large bite size pieces. Don't cut it too small because the chicken will dry out too much. Pour the buttermilk into a sealable plastic bag, move the chicken pieces around until all of them are covered in buttermilk and place the bag in the fridge overnight.





When you're ready to cook, take the chicken out of the bag and put it in a bowl. Discard the buttermilk. Place flour, spices and seasoning in a bowl and roll the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, a few at a time.  When all the chicken pieces are coated, get ready to fry them.

Heat oil in a frying pan and when it's hot, carefully place the chicken pieces in the pan. Fry for about five minutes or until they are a golden colour. You don't want to cook them in the frying pan, you just want them to develop the colour you want when you serve them.

When they're golden, place all the pieces on a small baking tray and pop into a preheated oven on 185C/365F and cook for another 20 minutes. Cut one in half to check they're cooked and remove from the oven.  Cover with foil to keep warm.

  PASSIONFRUIT CORDIAL  
We had an abundance of passionfruit on our vines in December so I made passionfruit cordial with some of the excess.  I know they're expensive in the shops now ($1 - $1.50 each !) but you could also make this using pineapple, mango, berries, citrus juice or a combination of several juices. To make any fruit cordial you make a sugar syrup - equal amounts of sugar and water, add lemon juice or citric acid (from the supermarket) and if you have 2 cups of sugar syrup you add 2 cups of fruit juice. You can make a weak syrup using half the amount of sugar to water if you wish, you can make it with honey but I've never made it so you'll have to do your own research.






This will make up just under 2 litres/quarts.
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 - 3 cups fresh passionfruit pulp
Place the sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan, heat up while stirring, bring to the boil and when the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat.  Allow to cool for a while and add the passionfruit.  We like the seeds here but if you don't want them in your drink, strain them out. Mix throughly and pour into a clean and sterile bottle and seal. It will keep for 4 - 6 weeks in the fridge.

Serve with cold sparkling mineral water and ice.

14

The warm embrace of self-reliance

I'm not one who takes frequent holidays. In the last ten years, I've had two holidays and both of them were working holidays (book tours). I'm a home body and prefer to be in my home, working at living the life I want. We always make sure we take days off and do things out of the ordinary, but those days are usually spent at home, or close to it. To tell you the truth, nowadays, my life seems like one long holiday. I feel relaxed, I do as I please, most days are a lovely mix of work and rest and there is always something to do.

We have two things here - the floral fabric is part of my old ironing board cover made into a napkin, the other part is now a small table cover.  The little scottie dog napkins were given to me by a good friend - Judy (damac) at the forum. Thanks again Jude. Cloth napkins are always useful and help you cut down a lot on paper products. 
Our all important dishcloths. I made 12 new cloths to cover our needs here for the next 12 - 18 months.

Life is tough when you have debt. You can see that on the faces of many people, you hear it in their stories and know it in your own. That toughness is one of the things that makes life the challenge it is. Almost all of us have to work for what we get, either in our homes and gardens producing what we need, or out in the work force earning money to buy or rent a home and what we need. I've never had a problem with hard work. I want to work for what I get, it feels right to me. I don't want to be that person who takes the easy way out or who thinks they deserve to have it easy. I don't want to sit back and do nothing. I believe that work makes us strong people and through that strength, we are able to achieve our life dreams.


But even though I feel like that, I don't want you to think I'm a non-complaining workhorse. I do complain, I have days when I don't feel like doing what I have to do and I put off jobs till tomorrow, or next week. Everyone has off days, no one can, or should need to, maintain a stoic attitude all the time. When I feel like taking it easy, I am realistic enough to know work is part of life and that the reprieve from work will be short, so I enjoy it and then get ready to pick up my broom and cleaning rags  again. When I don't have the energy to push myself, I push myself gently and sit with knitting and work on an unfamiliar pattern, or spend time outside alone watching birds and the swaying trees. The restorative powers of outdoor time and silence is quite remarkable.

 Getting the salads ready for summer lunch. There is leftover potato salad in that bowl.

Last year was a good one for passionfruits here. Some of these were small but they were all packed and juicy.

Most of the time, my housework is something I look forward to. I love cooking for my family, baking and making jams and sauces. There are times during the year when I organise cupboards and move things around and when I do that, it helps me with the work that will follow. I don't care what's for sale in the shops, I couldn't care less what's on TV, I'm less and less interested in being online because my home is my focus and my interest. I'm content here and I don't see that changing.

Baked vegetables ready for lunch.
Pizza dough ready to be flattened and made into circles.

The satisfaction I feel when I make something for my home far outstrips the feeling I used to get when I bought everything I needed. What I make suits our home better than most commercial products and as a bonus, I feel the warm embrace of self-reliance when I make them. I know it can be difficult to disconnect from the ease of buying pre-made everything but once you settle into to it, home production, moderation and self-reliance delivers long-term, constant contentment.

A few ladies asked about the fabric I photographed in the last weekend reading post.  It was the cover of my old ironing board - an Ikea cover. I love the fabric so when I replaced my ironing board with a larger one  recently, I saved the cover. I was unsure how to reuse the odd shape but I knew I wanted to see it frequently. I ended up making one napkin (above) and a little table cover that I'll use on my old tea trolley. I'm very happy with both of them and happier that I could keep using the fabric and to repurpose it for new tasks.

Here she is - our Gracie - gazing longingly at the chicken poo and straw mix in the wheelbarrow.

I hope you enjoy your homemaking this week. I'll be continuing with ongoing sewing and knitting, cooking our lunch from scratch every day, cleaning, thinking about the soon-to-be planted new season garden and looking after our adorable puppy Grace. I hope to clean out a cupboard or too as well.  What are your plans for the week ahead?


34

Weekend reading

I'm taking a few days away from the computer to get my head back to where I want it to be.  I'll be sewing, knitting, cooking and spending mornings on the verandah. Gracie is overdue for some training and I'll bath, brush and clip her too.  Look after yourself, I'll see you again next week.

How to die well
Delicious buttermilk soft rolls
For those of you who liked reading about Margaret Gallagher last week, here she is again in a You Tube video
All I've Ever Known: Margaret Gallagher's Story
How To Make A Hanging Gutter Garden
A no-poo story
10 top tips for Sydney
Baking Pan Storage
Time to play outside 
6

How to connect with like-minded folk


We've been updating the forum over the past few weeks. There are some new moderators and many excellent threads aimed at teaching our members new skills, and the social side of the forum helps us connect with like-minded folk via with regular chat and photo threads. If you're trying to simplify or have happily settled into this kind of living but have no one close to talk to about it, this is the place for you.  If you're already a member but haven't visited for a while, or have been inquisitive but haven't had the time to join, now is the time. Even if you read only a few of our threads, you'll discover enough to make the effort worthwhile. If you become a regular, if may help you change your life.

We're working our way, month-by-month, through The Simple Home and we've just finishing January where many of us organised our homes and prepared ourselves for 2017. This month our topic is Your Money and your Life. We'll be discussing debt, saving and how get the best value from the money you have.

I've listed the forum topics below and the moderators have chosen a thread they think might help or interest you.  Just click on the link to go there.  If you're not a member yet, you'll have to register first. Don't worry, it's free, and your information stays with me and goes no where else. 😃

LIVING A SIMPLE LIFE
Robynlouise is our moderator here.
Members of DTE discuss how they describe themselves and their lifestyle. Interesting, inspirational, thoughtful and at times humorous. Make yourself a cuppa and join in the conversation here or if you prefer to just absorb the atmosphere.....that's all right too :).

SAVING AND SPENDING
Linnieloo is our moderator, she says:
During February Your Money and Your Life from The Simple Home by Rhonda Hetzel draws our attention to our finances and the roles money and work play in our lives. There are many suggestions in this chapter that will help to bring positive change to our lives, and we’ll be discussing what you can do to improve the relationship between your money and your time. We'd love you to join us. Link is here.

GROWING FOOD AND LIVESTOCK
Juleslea and Katrina moderate in this forum and they are presenting you with a gardening challenge:
Description:
Challenge: Create a Garden Planner Week 1: What to grow?
If you’ve dreamed of a vegetable garden and don’t know where to start or you are a seasoned gardener and would like to be more organized, then join us as we go through how to create a garden planner. Week 1 of the challenge has begun with deciding what to grow in your garden. The following weeks will include researching what varieties to plant, determining how much to grow, designing a layout, making a planting schedule, preparing the soil, maintaining your garden and harvesting!

NOURISHMENT
Herfordhare looks after this forum.
Regular menu planning plays a part in the kitchen routines and spending strategy of quite a few of our members. It can also help with the problem of food wastage because using leftovers is part of most plans. Every week, menu plans are posted in this forum and if you click here, you'll find those for this week.

MAKE IT YOURSELF
Nannachel and Damac, two of our long-term moderators, are often organising swaps and challenges. If you've ever wanted to sew a simple garment, this one is just for you:
A taste of our talent here on DTE. A lovely member is guiding us through making a simple garment. 
The pattern has been chosen carefully so it can be changed from a top to make a dress or nightie, and it can be made from new or recycled material.
The Sew Along is for beginners to the advanced.
Come and join us in our Make it Yourself Section. Click here to go to the Sew Along.
We also do many crafts and offer help, drop by and join in or ask for advice.
Hope to see you soon.

HOMEMAKING AND ORGANISATION
Kyliemarie and frentaly are co-moderators here in this forum. 
A new exciting thread is starting in February where members will be creating a ‘Running To-Do List’ and begin their journey of getting on top of odd jobs and clearing all that mind clutter. Click here and join us on this productive, motivating and supportive journey.

ADAPTING OUR LIVES AND HOMES FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Sherri and I are moderating this forum. 
If you are looking for ways to increase your recycling and repurposing, you need to see this thread, complete with photos. We hope you get some ideas and inspiration so you can cut down on your carbon emissions by recycling, mending and reusing.

THE BACK VERANDAH
Jenny moderates here and at The Front Door.  She says:
The weekly chat and photo chat threads provide an opportunity to sit around the virtual kitchen table with a group of like minded friends - sharing your plans and achievements, bemoaning the failures, and taking advice or solace from others. You can listen and learn but you'll get to know other members, and come to feel 'at home' on the forum more quickly if you join in. These threads are a good place for newcomers to take the plunge and write their first post - everyone knows how to chat and you don't need to be an expert on anything!

So, there you have it, a few reasons to come along and see what's going on at the forum. This is a place unlike any other on the internet.  There is no bullying or rudeness, the forum is full of great people, interesting information that will challenge you, and you can make friends with people all over the world. We hope to see you there soon.


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