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New beginnings – a good life


Sometimes dreams really do come true. This time last year I was sitting in an office feeling exhausted and dejected, despite having just completed a major project. There was little or no thanks, no recognition of the tremendous effort required by all involved to complete the project on time. Instead, there was criticism and blame. The focus was on the 5% that was not complete rather than on the 95% that was fully complete and performing well above all expectations. Something was clear to me – I was in the wrong place.

I decided that day that this was not the life I wanted anymore. I was earning a decent salary but I didn’t have time to enjoy it. We had moved house to reduce our commute time but due to a change in roles I ended up working longer hours, so the end result was just the same. Evenings were spent recovering from a stressful day at the office and weekends were spent catching up on home chores. We had little quality time to spend together. This wasn’t living – it was existing. Something had to change or life was simply going to pass us by.


As luck would have it our company wanted to downsize and was offering voluntary redundancies. I appreciate that this was not viewed as “lucky” by all concerned, but to us it was a perfect solution – I could leave my job with enough money in my pocket to start something new. We’d always dreamed of a simpler life – this could be our opportunity to pursue that dream in earnest.


In January I was told that my application for voluntary redundancy had been accepted and that February 28th would be my last day of service. As we still hadn’t figured out what we’d like to do with the rest of our lives we decided to take a little time out to do some thinking, and so the “My Food Odyssey” tour of Europe was born. Three months into that trip and we were no closer to a plan, but with our newfound energy and lease of life we knew we were on the right path.

As you’ll know from previous posts, we broke off the trip a little earlier than planned as we were having some heat problems with the van. We planned on spending about a month in Lithuania fixing the van before heading off again to cover Austria and Italy before winter fell. We would then return to Lithuania for the winter to figure out our next step.


We bought a few loads of firewood to get us through the winter and Arūnas set to the task of chopping and drying it for storage. He was mid task when our elderly neighbour came over to tell him that she had some wood already chopped and dried if we would like to buy it. She was going to stay with her son for the winter and would not be needing it. What started out as a sale of firewood ended up as the sale of a house. At 94 our neighbour was no longer able for her house and land by herself and was happy to sell if she could find a buyer.


We’d waited for so long for an opportunity to buy property in Adakavas that we gave the decision very little thought. We literally decided over lunch that we would buy it – we knew if we didn’t that someone else would and it could be years before another house became available. We hadn’t even looked inside. It was built at the same time as Arūnas’s family home and to the same plans, so we knew the layout and had a good idea what condition it would be in. The house came with 5 hectares of land, which would be plenty for us to grow all our own fruit and vegetables, rear some chickens, a cow for milk and perhaps a few pigs for meat. It was everything we’d ever dreamed of. So we took it. Two weeks later the whole thing was wrapped up – the house was ours.


So, is this the end of “My Food Odyssey”? Absolutely not. We still plan on going to Italy before winter, although with everything that’s happened we’re a little behind schedule. We also have another trip planned for this side of Christmas and one in the new year. But for me, this whole journey is part of my food odyssey. For so long I’ve dreamed of being self-sufficient and making all of my food from scratch using local ingredients. Already I can see how life in the country revolves around food and food production. You do someone a favour and they thank you with a bag of freshly picked carrots or potatoes. I’ve spent the last week frantically trying to preserve our apples and damsons before they fall off the trees and rot. I’ve made countless kilos of jams, jellies and chutneys. I have a few litres of damson vodka nicely maturing and yesterday I bought a 25 litre barrel to make damson wine. I’m totally, totally exhausted but I’m also extremely happy. I was never looking for an easy life – just a good life, and I think I’ve found it.

Lietuviškai spausk čia.


40 Comments Post a comment
  1. JaN #

    I enjoyed reading this story of how the big change in your life evolved. Very pleased for you and I don’t even know you! Your values are solidly in the right place.


    October 3, 2013
    • Thank you, Jan – you’re very kind. Here’s hoping it all works out!


      October 3, 2013
  2. I love your spirit of adventure! The very best of luck in your new home- I’m sure you will both be very happy there.🙂


    October 3, 2013
    • Thanks Mizz! We’re really looking forward to it!


      October 3, 2013
  3. great blog … and great pics, June. So lovely to hear stories of finding your place in the world, well done, Ann


    September 21, 2013
  4. June, I’m absolutely delighted for you both – I’ve a big smile on my face from reading your blog. I saw a great quote today in the Happy Pear – ‘Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant’. It sounds like you have planted amazing seeds ….. and are already harvesting. Enjoy both🙂.


    September 16, 2013
    • Thanks Mary – appreciate that. Hope you’re keeping well!


      September 17, 2013
  5. smfarm #

    Everything happens for a reason. Enjoy your new simple life, and I look forward to following your adventures.


    September 14, 2013
    • Thanks Julie – appreciate that. Loving your blog, too – super beautiful!


      September 14, 2013
  6. you both seem to be roughing it ok – the discomfort of no climate control with the joys of new experiences and shared on the road adventures – a young, fit couple well up for all the challenges that are being presented to you both. you are accumulating a wealth of memories that you will always be able to revisit in your minds. wonderful, descriptive and well written/photographed blog.


    September 12, 2013
  7. Wow – June & Arunas !! What a fantastic turn of events – talk about putting your desires out there and the Universe, in the guise of an 94 old lady, answering your prayers ! It`s an inspiration for the rest of us “nine to fivers” who are tied into negative equity and soul less jobs.
    best of luck to you both and the “fruits” of your labours.


    September 12, 2013
  8. I posted 2 recent comments, neither have been published


    September 12, 2013
    • Ooops !


      September 12, 2013
      • Sorry about the delay, Noel. The site has spam protection software built in and checks all comments before publishing them. Thanks a million for your thoughts and good wishes. Glad you’re enjoying the blog! June & Arūnas.


        September 12, 2013
  9. 25 litres of damson wine! bloody hell June, you’ll need some assistance to polish that off – I’m on my way. x
    Brilliant blog, best wishes for the future.
    From another camper vanner who had overheating problems, mine caught fire on the A338.


    September 11, 2013
    • Thanks Phil! I’ll give you a shout when the wine is ready and we’ll sort something out. Will see if I can get my hands on a beaver to braise to have with it!😉


      September 12, 2013
  10. Rob Battigan #

    Congrats June !! Enjoy it🙂


    September 11, 2013
    • Thanks Rob! Hope you’re keeping well!


      September 12, 2013
      • Rob Battigan #

        As can be….still here🙂


        September 12, 2013
  11. Love it June. Well done you guys on finding your bliss.


    September 11, 2013
    • Cheers Stephen! And thanks again for the retweet – much appreciated!


      September 12, 2013
  12. Marcella #

    Wow, June…congratulations. SO happy for you…it sounds idyllic, in a hard-work kind of a way, which is probably the best kind. Keep in touch,


    September 10, 2013
    • Thanks a million, Marcella! Looking forward to getting stuck in. Might give you a shout for some veg growing tips! Take care, J.


      September 10, 2013
  13. Liz Murphy #

    Congratulations June, you are blessed, enjoy it, lots of love
    Liz xxx


    September 10, 2013
    • Cheers Liz! Here’s to years of happy apple growing! (Yours looked great, by the way!)


      September 10, 2013
  14. Brian Martin #

    Great post June, congratulations to you both on your new home. Now you really are living the dream and it looks great from here!


    September 10, 2013
    • Thanks Brian. Lots of work and learning ahead but, yeh, it’s pretty damn good!


      September 10, 2013
  15. Those apples… I want them!🙂


    September 9, 2013
    • Thanks! They look delish, don’t they?! I go for a big walk each day and there’s a tree with these apples about half way round. I always treat myself to one. They have a great crunch and are full of juice – I just love them. Hope they last a few more weeks!


      September 9, 2013
      • They look every inch the perfect garden apple. It’s depressing buying apples from the supermarket… all those uniform, tasteless varieties😦
        Make the most of your seasonal wealth!


        September 9, 2013
  16. Meabh Cooney #

    So happy for you June! Sounds idyllic and refreshingly simple. Love and good wishes to you both


    September 9, 2013
    • Cheers Méabh! Here’s hoping that it all works out as planned!


      September 9, 2013
  17. Oh my god! What a lovely post and I’m so happy for you. Life is short, it’s great that you’re doing what makes you happy. Big congrats!


    September 9, 2013
    • Cheers Ketty! Live is, indeed, short – got to make hay while the sun shines!


      September 9, 2013
  18. Congratulations June, it sounds like it was meant to happen. Wishing you the very best of luck


    September 9, 2013
    • Cheers Sinéad – much appreciated!


      September 9, 2013

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  1. Project House: The Transformation | My Food Odyssey
  2. Project: House | My Food Odyssey
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