From ‘van life’ to ‘the good life’…

Time flies! Hard to believe it’s been 18 months since we moved out of the van into our cottage in Scotland. A busy time – here’s a brief update…


After a short but spectacular run of gigs in Sweden last summer – including a Midsommar party on a private island, and return visits to Ädelfors and to Strandkompaniet – and a great night supporting US songwriter Jesse Terry at the Kirkgate in Cumbria, I’ve had a few jaunts out around the Borders region.

A full day of live music at the Queen’s Head in Hawick with a host of local talent. Over to Repas7 in Berwick with Mark Reid from the band, At Sea. A local show with top bluesy roots duo Durango Blue and a return to the Allendale Brewery tap room event for the folk festival weekend.

I’m starting to pull a new band together and looking forward to getting more gigs and festivals in the diary for next year. Get in touch if you want to sort something out 🙂

The Good Life

Bev has had a fantastic first full year running the smallholding. With a new polytunnel in place and well prepared beds, she worked hard on growing as much as possible of the fruit and veg we eat. Right up to the end of November, we had amazing fresh food and now we are enjoying the pickled, preserved and frozen produce. There’s only exotic stuff like pineapples and avocados that we need to buy.

The Good Life! How and Bev in full Tom and Barbara mode.

Pigs! We weren’t sure if we would in this first year, but we did. We mentioned ‘Oxford Sandy and Blacks’ one night to our neighbour Gordon and it turned out there were some almost ready to wean just a few miles away. Bev got her County Parish Holding number sorted and a few weeks later, they arrived. An amazing experience to raise these two characters over the summer and to go through the whole process. Huge thanks to our other neighbours Jo and Andrew for helping with the slaughter and butchery. And now we have a freezer full of high welfare rare breed pork. The taste is incredible, financially it probably works out positive but most of all we know where our meat came from and how the animals were fed and how they lived.


Fruit and Veg

  • Aubergine
  • Beetroot
  • Bell peppers
  • Borlotti beans
  • Broccoli
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cayenne and Anaheim chilli peppers
  • Celery
  • Cooking apples
  • Courgettes
  • Elephant garlic
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Kale
  • Malabar spinach
  • Onion
  • Padron peppers (over 1000!)
  • Peas
  • Perpetual spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Rhubarb
  • Rocket
  • Salad leaves
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tomatoes

Plus, we’ve started on…

  • Cherries
  • Eating apples
  • Fig
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapes
  • Honeyberries
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Redcurrants

Life after ‘Van Life’

One thing we wondered about was how it would feel to wake up in the same place each day, after spending so long on the move and with a brand new amazing view almost every day. Well, we think we’ve done ok – the view here is pretty awesome, looking out across fields and forestry to the distant fells of the North Lakes across the Solway.

View across the misty Solway to Skiddaw and the fells of the northern Lake District

Of course we’ve had to get back into all the joys of having a house – boilers breaking down, DIY, renovations and decorating, etc. Bev got stuck in to updating the bathroom with her usual energy and efficiency. Tiling, plastering, grouting, painting, etc – she learnt loads and it looks superb. Considering the cottage is 150 year old, there are bound to be challenges but we’re doing ok so far.

And, we still have the van – perfect for nights away and touring. It’s hard to believe that we lived for so long in such a tiny space. A good reminder that you don’t need much ‘stuff’ to be happy.

It’s been a busy 18 months! We’ve loved having friends and family visit and there’s a great community here, congregating at the village hall for beer and blether, sporting and social events like Cream Teas, cinema nights, and the coronation party.

Out and about, hard to pick just a few highlights:

The Commons Riding or Riding of the Marches is a big thing in the Border towns. Langholm’s is on the last Friday in July and it’s a real spectacle. The pubs open early and there’s a great atmosphere in the town.

Awesome landscapes and scenery on our doorstep. We went paddleboarding up at St Mary’s Loch one glorious day then camped at Moffat to visit Brodies. Highly recommended.

Bev out paddleboarding on the Loch of the Lowes in the Scottish Borders

What’s Next?

I’ve started to make plans to convert some of the old outbuildings into a home studio. There’s a long way to go so I’m set up in the spare bedroom at the moment, getting to grips with some new recording equipment. Loads of songs in progress, I’ll share some in the new year. But also looking forward to starting some new musical projects and collaborations…

That’s all for now – we’re winding down for Christmas. It’ll be pork-based 🙂

A big thanks to all who supported my music over the year – following, liking, sharing, coming to gigs – and to the promoters and venue managers that keep music live.

Merry Christmas and Cheers!

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