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Here we go…first post

My name is Sally, and this is my new blog where I am going to share my learning, discovery and vision of all things wildlife, gardening, growing, sustainability and regeneration here at my home of Langdon. Here’s my story…

Almost four years ago, in January 2017, I met Brian – a Kiwi living in the UK, a software CEO who also had a penchant for digging, building, inventing and getting his hands dirty whenever possible.

After falling completely in love, we wanted to get our own place together. I was living in a 3-bed Victorian terrace in Faversham (south-east England) at the time. I loved it, and it had been perfect for my late husband, Ben, and I – and then later for my daughter and I. But, then Brian arrived – with his guitars, his tools, his boxes of accumulated life ‘stuff’ – and it seemed a bit crowded. But mostly, we both wanted more garden – more outside space to spread out in.

I imagined one step up – a 4 bed house, a garden rather than a little postage stamp of grass. But Brian had different ideas – bigger, grander, bolder. Being hopelessly in love, and also a sucker for an adventure and the thrill of the new, I agreed to go big. I agreed to Langdon.

Across the lake in front of the house

Langdon is a red brick Victorian farmhouse, sat in the middle of three acres of land, just outside Faversham. There are hundreds of trees, a big pond (to me, it’s a lake!), scrubby wilderness, secret spaces, an expansive lawn, ramshackle old outhouses, and more wildlife than I have had ever shared a home with before.

Across the meadow to the back of the house

When Brian first saw Langdon his eyes lit up – he immediately saw exciting possibilities and projects. I was overwhelmed and cynical. Too big, too grand, not me. In the end I agreed to join him on this madcap purchase, but the ‘Project’ wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to get sucked into renovations and decorating and managing builders. I wanted to revive my career as an English and communication coach which had been waiting patiently on the sidelines while I concentrated on bringing up my young daughter.

Well it took a few years, but Langdon has finally sucked me in entirely, despite my resistance. What I’ve fallen in love with more than anything here is the world outside our windows – the mini-ecosystem that surrounds us – from the tops of the towering poplars to the tunnels burrowed under the soil, from the dense dark hedgerow, to the lily pads lying in the sun on the pond. I have become obsessed with growing vegetables; creating and preserving habitats for bees, bugs, and other beasts; excitedly identifying new bird visitors; making compost; establishing a wildflower meadow…

Meanwhile Brian has thrown himself headlong into landscaping and building projects. We have lots of brilliant builders and tradespeople that do the bulk of the work, but Brian is always amongst them, sometimes leading the way, sometimes learning from them – one day he’ll be learning how to fit copper plumbing pipes, the next he’ll be wiring electrical boxes, the next building wooden raised beds.

More holes than a mole

My other partner in crime is my daughter Saskia. She swears she’s going to live here forever!

Mellow yellow

Becoming an ‘owner’ of land has been an unexpectedly rich and transformative experience for me. It’s a huge responsibility – suddenly I have trees that are hundreds of years old, and which are home to many species of bird, insect and mammal, and we are their custodians.

This is a responsibility that I now find so exciting and absolutely bursting with opportunities and possibilities – for the wildlife residents, for us human residents, for the soil we walk on and grow things in, for our communities – family, friends, neighbours – that we can share the space with, for the cultural legacy of a farmhouse whose history stretches back to at least the 16th century, maybe more.

This feeling of responsibility and the excitement of what’s possible is against the backdrop of the environmental degradation that humans have wreaked, and the crises for our climate and biodiversity that we now face. I want Langdon to be a place where we regenerate the land and its wildlife, where we establish ways of living that are resilient, resourceful and waste free. And I want to share this with others – somehow. How, exactly, I do not know – I have ideas, and these I will share as this blog unfolds.

There’s another thread of my life that I haven’t yet mentioned which also plays into this story. Somewhere between being a mum, teaching/coaching/writing, and embarking on Langdon life with Brian, I founded, ran, and now continue to be an active member of a volunteer organisation called Plastic Free Faversham. In late 2017, moved by the horrifying media stories about plastic garbage patches and birds dying with plastic-filled stomachs, I decided to launch an event in my town of Faversham – a ‘Say No to Plastic Week’. I was a complete new-comer to environmental campaigning, and there was plenty of naivety in my call to action back then, but perhaps this played a part in what inspired so many people to join me. We had a strong team of 16 who together pulled off an incredible week of events, with engagement and pledges of commitment to our cause from schools, businesses, community groups and the town council. After that first successful event, the organisation Plastic Free Faversham was founded, and we continue to work within the Faversham community towards our vision: “a regenerative community where waste is part of a circular economy – everything produced is re-used, repaired, composted or recycled – to protect the natural environment, its resources, people and wildlife.”

My story of course goes back a lot further than 2017 (two other blogs, here and here, share some of my earlier life) but this is when this chapter began; this chapter, in which my life’s purpose has become to regenerate ‘my’ piece of land, to live sustainably and resourcefully, to learn from others how to do this better, and to share with others my own learning and hopefully bring inspiration and spread my excitement around a bit! This blog is to record all that – and enable me to start creating a new eco-system of readers, who I hope will respond with thoughts, questions, things to teach me, ideas for collaboration…and more!

Thanks for reading this far – it’s been a long first post, so I appreciate you sticking with me. More to come soon! 😊

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