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Property in Rural Wales | Cheap Derelict Properties for Sale

Updated on April 18, 2015
Sue Adams profile image

Juliette Kando has lived and worked in over 20 countries with extensive experience in designing and refurbishing property.

Piece of Land for Sale

Our life in rural Wales began when we found a cheap but large piece of land for sale with a derelict cottage on it. We immediately jumped at the opportunity and bought the property as a holiday home to get away from inner city life in London.


During what was going to be a two-week holiday at our semi-derelict Welsh cottage I discovered that I was pregnant with our third child. Oh well, I figured, if I am expecting again I might as well stay here in the country a little longer with our two boys, Miko (4) and Tomi (2) and spend some time refurbishing this derelict cottage, while my husband would come down from London at the weekends.

Living in Rural Wales
Living in Rural Wales | Source

Oh Ai!

The boys would be so much happier here where they could freely roam around the countryside and get lost in the tall bracken. Came September I enrolled them in the village school and, within a few months they were speaking English with a fluent Welsh accent. Oh, Ai!

Elwin the Muscle Man
Elwin the Muscle Man | Source


A local Welshman in his forties named Elwin became my platonic admirer and devoted muscle man. He lived on chips, fried in lard, and meat when he could afford it, otherwise eggs from the chickens, and black tea. Hence the dark brown color of his few remaining teeth. A plasterer by trade, Elwin liked to think that he could tackle almost any building job. He made some mistakes. The newly decorated living room got flooded because he put a lintel in for the new window slanting into the wall instead of towards the outside.

Thumbnail as a Screwdriver

Elwin could use his thick, hard, tea-stained thumbnail as a screwdriver.

Learning to Drive the Old Land Rover

Elwin had no driving license because he couldn't read. But he could drive any vehicle, from a car, motorbike, truck, tractor, to the old land rover he found for me. "Easy, does it Suzie," he would say, sitting next to me patiently teaching me how to keep the huge car on the narrow curvy roads of the Welsh countryside.

The Old Rayburn
The Old Rayburn | Source

A Fifty-Year-Old Rayburn

The fifty-year-old Rayburn coal burner in the kitchen had pneumonia, coughing out black smoke into the house because birds’ nests occupied the chimney. When I eventually got the ancient cooking device working it would overheat and almost burst at its seams. In its oven, I tried to bake bread and large cakes using goose eggs from our own geese. But in the beginning my efforts all turned into black bricks. Every morning, I dutifully cleaned the ashes out of the old Rayburn and lit a fire to make coffee, hot milk for the children and a breakfast of black toast and freshly laid chicken eggs.

New Baby Girl
New Baby Girl | Source

The Birth

My contractions set in conveniently while I was digging the last of the potato trenches. The midwife had refused a home birth on the grounds that the cottage was too remote and inaccessible by ambulance. My husband Iain was there for the birth and my mother had come all the way from America to help looking after the boys while “we” would be giving birth.

A Baby Girl!

After the rough ride on the bumpy road and 7 more miles to Morriston Hospital, Kirsty slid out of me as soon as I was wheeled in, from the Landrover, straight into the delivery room. Our family was now complete.

Washing Clothes In The River
Washing Clothes In The River | Source

Back to Work

Two days after Kirsty’s birth I was back at the cottage for the daily chores and Iain went back to work in London. My mother stayed for another week and returned to the States. I was on my own again in rural wild Wales with three children to look after now.

The River Bed

For washing clothes, the tap was only a trickle so I put the washing in an old plastic baby bath and, with Kirsty tied in a scarf around my body, and the boys and Jack the dog, following, I pulled the washing all the way down to the river at the bottom of the valley.

Blanchette | Source


For milk, there was the huge white goat we named Blanchette, another Elwin acquisition. But she could not or would not stand still when I milked her and she constantly kicked over the bucket. Blanchette was stronger than I and more stubborn than a donkey. She often ran away with me being dragged along by the rope I was holding trying to restrain her.

Fresh Spring Water
Fresh Spring Water | Source

Fresh Spring Water

My newly gained energy from living in the open wild countryside knew no boundaries. With a pickaxe, I helped Elwin dig a septic tank. Elwin also built a concrete water tank halfway up the mountain to catch fresh clean water from a spring. Our water got duly tested and approved by the Swansea Valley water authority.

Stones and Stones

The first job I tackled outside was to knock down an old crooked stone wall which blocked the view. I used the stones to lay a path leading to the front door to stop the mud being trodden into the house. The floors downstairs were original slate slabs laid directly on to clay.

Derelict Cottage
Derelict Cottage | Source

House Renovation

Inside the house, the children and I knocked down a few walls to make the place lighter and bigger. The boys enjoyed using real tools and doing real jobs. No plastic toys. Except that Tomi did not seem to differentiate between using the hammer to knock rubble off the walls and Jack the dog’s head. But then how could one expect him to at two years of age? A dog could move and react to his blows, which could not be said from the dusty crumbling walls. It took some time to explain the difference and Jack the dog survived.

Rough Hands
Rough Hands | Source

Rough Hands

My hands, once so smooth and pale, looked more like shovels now, covered in corn, cuts and bruises. My arm muscles had almost doubled in size from carrying children, moving a thousand stones and digging the land to make way for the vegetable patch. We grew exotic vegetables like artichokes unavailable in the village shops where you could only find cabbage, carrots and leeks.

Cute Little Piglets
Cute Little Piglets | Source

Cute little Piglets

One day Elwin made me a present of two of the cutest little piglets. Ignoring that I am a vegetarian, he named them Ham and Bacon. Elwin had five children and a sick wife and many semi delinquent brothers and uncles to feed in the village, which was a hard thing to do on the dole. So I sympathised and consented to have the pigs (nice for the kids for now) on the condition that he would look after them. Of course, the looking after the pigs turned out to be somewhat irregular.

Rain, Rain and More Rain
Rain, Rain and More Rain | Source

Rain and Rain

When it rained Elwin would not come up to ‘the farm’ and it rained and, what with ‘the farm' being situated halfway up the mountain in a cloud trap, it rained most of the time, even when the sun was shining bright six or seven miles down on the beach. But we soon learned that there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

Deserted Beach
Deserted Beach | Source

Pigs in the Bath

When Ham and Bacon had grown into monstrous gigantic smelly pigs Elwin slaughtered them, the details of which I shall omit to convey suffices to say that I was assigned the job of cleaning all the body parts in the bath. That was one of the lesser pleasant experiences. Afterwards, I took the children to a deserted beach and we did not return to the cottage until all traces of pigs, dead or alive had gone.


Yet no amount of miss-haps or hard work could spoil the rich outdoor life. Having turned into a Welsh peasant and facing the daily “snags”, my life had become more challenging, exciting and interesting. I never knew what surprises a new day would bring.

Ever Changing Scenery
Ever Changing Scenery | Source

The Elements

Living in rural Wales, standing on a mountain top, challenged by the elements, with the wind, sunrays and rain sometimes hitting us from three different directions all at once is unforgettable. The ever-changing magnificent views, colours and climatic variety spiced the heavy physical tasks with fresh seasoning every day.

No TV or Plastic Toys
No TV or Plastic Toys | Source

No TV or Plastic Toys

Unlike in the big city where the children had often been bored and agitated, here, without television or plastic toys, they were always cheerful and at bedtime healthily exhausted. I was stronger than ever and, had it not been for a longing to have the children’s father living with us to take on Elwin’s role as the strong male, living in rural Wales was one of the happiest times of my life.

Did you Like this Article?

Please rate and leave a comment and be sure to read the continuation at:

Living in Rural Wales Part 2 - Tarmac and Snow

for more adventures in wild Wales.


© SUE ADAMS 2015 - You may link to this article, but you may Not copy it. Copied content will automatically be found by Google Alerts and may result in your entire blog/website being closed down.



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    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 2 years ago from Andalusia

      Hi Tracey,

      I do miss the beauty of rural Wales but have been fortunate to swap it for the more sunny hills of Andalusia.

    • profile image

      Tracey Snowdonia 2 years ago

      Living in rural North Wales, albeit in a village. Your stories made me laugh, as I too took on a "doer upper" and lived initially without a husband. Wales is a beautiful country and does seem to generate some "characters"

      Gutted that you left what has become my adopted country.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 3 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I loved this hub. I mean I REALLY loved this hub.

      It brought back many memories and opened my eyes again to things I have always held so dear, but had forgotten.

      For a very few years, I lived in Crynant, which is near Neath, in West Glamorganshire, and share some of your memories.

      We didn't live in a completely rural setting, but my uncle had a farm quite close by, and at one time we also had a couple of pigs, who, like your Ham and Bacon, grew large and, so, poor Jack and Jill went the same way.

      Possibly one of the most traumatic memories I have. They were slaughtered outside the kitchen window, in a little paved enclosure, and I don't think I will ever forget the squealing and my Uncle John chasing me with the "whistle" from one of the pigs' voice box.

      It was early WWII and although many in the UK were experiencing rationing, along with having a large vegetable and fruit garden, and also Uncle Reese's farm, we didn't want for much, and the food, being home grown, I remember as being delicious and plentiful.

      Thank you again for your wonderful writing and thank you also for your advice concerning HP's Ad programme.


    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 5 years ago from Andalusia

      I'd rather be under the sunny skies of South Africa than drenched by perpetual drizzle in a cloud trap half-way up a Welsh mountain side, Gladia. The grass is never greener on the other side.

      Be happy.

    • profile image

      Gladia 5 years ago

      Love your story! Wish I was 30 years younger - but sadly I've left it tooooo late to be so adventurous - and Wales is my favourite place in the world. Greetings from the sunny skies of South Africa oxoxo

    • profile image

      Noncellulose 5 years ago

      Thanks Juliette (Sue), for your kind words. I'm evaluating Market Samurai....I think because of you. Guess this is going off topic. Are there alternative communication channels?

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 5 years ago from Andalusia

      Hello Noncellulose,

      Glad you like my work. I too have learned all I know so far from other friendly helpful Hubbers and am still learning. When are you going to publish your first Hub? Go on, take the plunge and soon you too will be making money. I for one would be happy to read what you write.

    • profile image

      Noncellulose 5 years ago

      Sue, soooo nice the way you tackled that cottage, and hope your little ones are all well and taking life with the glee you have.

      I've been reading your other Hubs, your's are some of the best, particularly, how-to-make-money-with-hubpages-and-google-adsense.

      I realize you do what I always want the others to do. You give precise helpful detail. Thanks.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 5 years ago from Andalusia

      Hi Sherryl,

      Nice of you to drop by and I wish you luck in your search for a peaceful piece of wild land, somewhere to your liking.

    • SherryDigital profile image

      Sherry Duffy 5 years ago from Here. There. Everywhere. Currently: Portland, OR

      This was a lovely story. My boyfriend and I are both from Florida and have been living all over California and Washington for the last year. I just love picking up on a whim and moving to somewhere new & exciting. I definitely plan to follow a similar path and buy some land in a beautiful, foreign countryside. It feels great when I see others living adventurous lives. Thank you for the inspiring tale. Best of luck to you!

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 6 years ago from Andalusia

      You possibly CAN move to a more peaceful place if you really want to Nancy. It is easier than you think to make drastic changes. Unfortunately most people are too scared to do so and live a lifetime of mediocrity, only looking forward to the next 2 weeks on holiday. But if you live the life you chose to live you never need a holiday.

    • profile image

      Nancy 6 years ago

      Nice story and nice pictures. I wish I could live somewhere out in the wild away from the concrete jungle and traffic jams.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Thank you fro dropping by Duncana. Sorry to hear about your friend's dad. Maybe this Hub gives you an idea of his last, hopefully happy days in Wales.

    • profile image

      Duncana 6 years ago

      Love this. It all looks so healthy and what young kids really need! The parents of a friend of mine lost their farm in Zimbabwe a few years ago and were forced to immigrate to Wales. Unfortunately the Dad just passed away, so I never got to ask him about life in Wales, so I was really glad to read your story.

    • Squidmom profile image

      Squidmom 6 years ago from Texas

      Wow, loved reading about your experiences,and from looking at your profile, it seems like you're really living life to it's fullest,very cool

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Hello rach,

      No, unfortunately we don't own the cottage anymore. All this happened quite some time ago. I now live in Spain and my family has a town house they want to sell in a beautiful mountain village called Olvega in Andalucia.

    • profile image

      rach 6 years ago

      hello i was just wondering wither you still owned the cottage ,

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 7 years ago from Andalusia

      Great TnFlash. Do it! Sooner rather than later. As soon as I moved to the country I asked myself the question:

      "Why didn't I do this ten years ago?" In the country you realise that happiness is a constant and misery only occasional. And that's how it should be, that is what we are here for, to be happy.

    • TnFlash profile image

      TnFlash 7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Great Story! I enjoyed reading very much. I would like to one day move out into the country and your story is an inspiration.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 7 years ago from Andalusia

      China Man I liked your profile. I'm all for sharing cultures.

      alekhouse, thank you for being so faithful and always being one of the first people to comment.

      rmcrayne, Yes, you should try it sometime although I have a feeling you are a country woman yourself at heart.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      What a great story. In far too many places, we can't imagine a life without cable, cell phones and a plethora of other electronics. Beautiful photos.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Really enjoyed your hub. Sounds like quite a daunting task, but I am sure it was very satisfying at the same time. Nice photos.

    • profile image

      china man 7 years ago

      I met quite a few people doing the same(ish)thing in Wales - nice life and nice writing.

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