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  • gracebarnes200

For Debbie my Sister, my Best Friend and my sometimes Partner in Crime.

Updated: Mar 10

So on a rare afternoon off work, I am filled with many dilemmas, what should I do with my time! Housework is probably the top priority to be fair, there are Herbs that need to be chopped, an allotment that needs a tidy up and the Chicken hut could probably do with a clean bed of straw! But another task I have been putting off is the Blog on this Website. I have been procrastinating with this for weeks now simply because I really cannot decide what I want to write about.

In the future I hope to share several things like the preparation of Infusions, Balms, and many other things that you can use your Herbs for, I especially like to use mine when cooking and a sprinkle of Nettle, Lemon Balm, Dandelion Leaf, Raspberry Leaf or Cleavers to name but a few, add a tasty and healthy addition to Soups, Salads, Sauces, Stews, Rice and Pasta. I think however to start with I will tell you a little bit about myself and Grace and the beginnings of The Cauldron of Soaps, Herbs, Magic and More…

My attraction to Magic and the Spiritual World began many years ago, , I have always been drawn to Magic and Mysteries around us, but my real Journey began after I spent 18 months in Spain with my Sister Debbie who owned a large old run down Farmhouse with a very dodgy roof in a little Village in Spain called Los Molinos del Rio Aguas.

In 2002 a friend who I met Trekking in Peru asked me if I would like to go with her and her young son to a place called Sunseed Desert Technology – a place to grow   situated in a once abandoned Village in the mountains of Andalucía but now repopulated with about 30 English, German, American, Dutch and Spanish people, some live there all year round, but some go for as many weeks or months of the year as they can. When my friend pulled out of the trip, I asked Debbie my elder Sister by 14 months if she wanted to come instead, which she did. So with backpacks and bare necessities for a two week stay, Debbie, Laura (Debbie’s daughter), Myself, Hayley and Jack (my son and daughter) set off for a two week practical, hands on holiday at Sunseed.

Debbie loved Los Molinos so much that she decided to make it her home and in the summer of 2005 she packed as many of her belongings into her VW Polo and trailer as she could and set off with Xevin, her Partner for an Off Grid adventure in Los Molinos.

After lodging in a few properties in the Village, Debbie and Xev found themselves at “The Roadhouse” and while staying here Debbie was told that the property was for sale, so the wheels were set in motion to sell her Log Cabin on a Caravan Park and buy The Roadhouse and make Los Molinos her permanent home.

In 2007 for personal reasons I went to live with Debbie and Xev in Los Molinos and totally loved the absolute remoteness and bare basics that we lived with. The only water we had on tap was from the river that ran through the bottom of the village and was pumped up to the houses on a rota basis by means of a ram pipe, if this stopped working then there was no water for washing up, washing clothes or personal washing. There was no running drinking water which meant we had to get all our drinking water from Sorbas the nearest Town 6 kilometres away. By this time Debbie’s car had gone to car heaven so, being without transport we were lucky if a friendly neighbour would give us a lift one way, sometimes both ways if we were extremely lucky, if not it was a long hot walk there and a seemingly longer and hotter walk back carrying all the water and groceries we needed. The only electricity was from a single solar panel that had seen better days, but gave us enough electricity to charge mobile phones and a few lights, an outside compost toilet which was the last place you wanted to go after dark, especially as Wild Boar was known to come through the Village on the odd occasion! Cooking on an open fire with the backup of a small gas burner for a treat was a real education and for the first time in my adult life I had no job to get up to, no children relying on me and nothing to do with my time except what I wanted to do, which was a real challenge as I am typically a very busy person who always likes to have something to do.

So, it was here that I began Crafting from the basic things that I could find around us, I discovered the absolute joy of creating something with my hands. My previous crafting has only been limited to Knitting and Sewing, which I still love but not as much as I love making Boxes, Books, Dreamcatchers and anything else that I can.

When I came back to England after 14 months with no job or income and having only enough savings left to buy a car, I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do, but knew that I needed to keep the crafting in my life and somehow turn my hobby into an income if possible. I knew I could never make a living from my crafting but I knew I could make an income that would give me a bit of extra cash. So with my newly adopted dog Piper who found me in Los Molinos, a welcome addition to our beautiful black Springador (Labrador cross Springer Spaniel) Wednesday, the first thing that we needed to do was to move out of Sherborne and into a Village that would be better suited to having 2 dogs and the lifestyle we wanted to create. Steve my Husband fortunately agreed.

So, to cut a long story short we ended up in Chetnole in a beautiful stone cottage that is absolutely freezing in the winter, heated only by a Rayburn and an open fire that we light in the evenings, the temperature in the winter can often be a very chilly 10 degrees or less, especially in the mornings! I always joke that I get more done in the winter months because I must keep moving to keep warm, but it is however the best place to be in the rare hot days we get in the summer. But I cannot imagine anywhere else that I would rather live, and I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to live here, it is a beautiful Cottage in a Village which I first moved to in 1977 with my Mum, Stepdad Ted and my youngest brother and sister, Sarah and Trevor.

In 2009 “Wicca Witch” was born, I combined most of my crafting to things connected to Magic, making Blank Books for Journals, Recipes or Spells, Boxes to keep treasures in, Dream Catchers, Worry Dolls, Potions, Witch Dolls, Runes, Wands and many other things and started selling my things by Party Plan, which did amazingly well and then Progressed to Spiritual Fairs and Craft Markets and I was kept busy for many months. Then came the opportunity to have a weekly Saturday stall on Sherborne Market every week which, although I loved the Spiritual Fairs and Craft shows, Sherborne Market gave me a steady regular place to trade my wares. Through my 11 years on Sherborne Market, I met some amazing people, not only those who came to my stall to buy or browse but with many people who just stopped to say hello, especially one old gentleman called Stephen, of whom I have very fond memories. Stephen came to Sherborne every year for the Festival of Music and who in subsequent years came to visit me on my stall, especially to say hello and invariably recite me some Poetry and show off his latest jazzy waistcoat. Although My Market Stall never gave me a full time income, I happily went about my day job and would spend my evenings crafting and selling my things at the Saturday Market.

My time on Sherborne Market came to an end in 2021 due to changes in Management and Terms & Conditions from Sherborne Castle Estates regarding the new Contracts at the Market, a Contract that I was not personally able to see as being financially beneficial to me sadly. So, I gave up my Pitch and sold my remaining stock on a small permanent stall outside of my house.

In 2020 I began spending time with Grace every Sunday as respite care for Grace’s Parents as Grace had been diagnosed with Autism and we spent many Sundays making things from Boxes and Bracelets to Castles made from bottles and Modelling Clay. Early in 2022 Grace’s Mum asked me if I could teach Grace about Herbs, which if I’m honest I really saw as quite a challenge. Grace was 11 at this time and wasn’t really interested in learning about anything, let alone the benefits of Herbs, but she was interested in Computers and making things as well, so I came up with the idea of the Website to sell the Handmade Soaps that Grace had begun to make during Lockdown with her Mum and to sell Herbs we would gather from the Hedgerows of Chetnole. By collecting, drying and listing all of the Herbs onto the Website both Grace and Myself learned so much, about not only the Magical Properties of the Herbs we were collecting but the many Medicinal Benefits that the Herbs give.

The Website has been a labour of love, I, nor Grace are computer whizzes and it was a long slow learning curve for us both, designing and creating the Website was a real challenge that we tackled enthusiastically and in the process we decided to turn the Website into, not only a place to buy Herbs but a place that would be a sort of online replacement for my Market Stall, where we could sell all the Handmade things we had created and so The Cauldron of Soaps, Herbs, Magic and More was born.

So in effect my first Blog is a Tribute to my Sister, my best friend and my sometimes Partner in Crime, Debbie, who we lost suddenly and unexpectedly in August of 2022. Without my journey in Los Molinos with Debbie and the things that she taught me, my journey would have stayed on a different path and I wouldn’t have found out so much about myself and what is important and what isn’t, and I probably wouldn’t have ended up living in my beautiful Cottage back in Chetnole, unless that was my fate all along, who knows, maybe I would still have been here, but maybe under different circumstances, but for now, I have all I could wish for and more except for more time with my Sister who I miss every single day but who inspires and still guides me still in more ways than she could ever have known.

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