The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

New plans and projects

Beautiful notebook

Beautiful notebook

When I went back to college to train as a 3D computer animator I had been making wooden toys for 10 years. Enjoyable though the toy making was, it was hardly rocket science and my brain was rarely stretched.

Not only was the software extremely complicated to use but I had never used a computer before. Despite the power of positive thinking, the learning curve was pretty tight. I could literally feel my brain sweating for the first month or so.

I was learning how to use 3DStudio at £2000 in the Dos platform it was hugely outpaced by software like Softimage at 20 times the price. I didn’t know this at the time but the effort paid off and I had a successful business operating out of Wardour Street in London. I didn’t have to upgrade to a new computer package and install Softimage. But my computers did cost in excess of £20,000 probably nothing compared to the systems that housed Softimage back in those days. Think £200,000+ with every sort of knobs on.

But back to costs and output. The first lesson of a small business. Sometimes I was earning on a good day £1000 other times ziltch, office £40 a week. I was really lucky to find a company that wanted a freelance/in house animator. Back then the money was all about the client ringing late at night and me finding a solution by 8am. To be quite honest it wasn’t easy. With 3D studio there were a million routes from A to B and I suspect that I often chose the longest ones.

Nowadays we often scratch around for small yet essential sums. Something had to change. Why wait for opportunities to come along? Why not drive the change?

So recently I’ve sent myself back to college again. The course is of my own devising, The college library is the Internet and I’m back with the mental gymnastics. This new project is an exciting one, needing a lot of research and analysis. Hopefully, if all goes well, I can share this project with you in a few weeks time as I will be charting my journey online.

A few months ago my mother gave me a very beautiful notebook – very similar to one that she has at home. It sat in our sitting room whilst I toyed with different ways to use it. It was too special to be wasted on everyday things. It now holds my notes for the new project. It’s perfect and a joy to write in.

Being ill in bed for a few weeks earlier this year has turned out to be very beneficial. I had the time and the space to step back from my life and focus on some active planning for the future. Lying in bed I finally accepted that I probably won’t be able to return to full time employment. But this actually means that I have the time to create and run a new business venture. The Contessa’s death was the final nudge that I needed – life is too short to fiddle around. I am a fully paid up Master Fiddler.

So I’ve jumped in and the water’s surprisingly fine.


  Leave a reply


  1. Looking forward to hearing the details.

  2. I am really looking forward to your new project.


  3. Sandra Jeffery

    I too have a lovely notebook brought back from a visit to Costa Rica many years ago. It is made of banana paper. Like you I consider it too precious for every day scribbling, so I note down all the birds that visit our garden on a particular day. Like yours it’s a pleasure to write in.

    Good luck with the new venture. We all need to have a new project to put a bit of spring back into our lives.

  4. casalba

    This is exciting and intriguing. I shall be watching this space.

  5. Good luck Fiona! I hope your new project is a thoroughly enjoyable journey x

  6. Veronica

    Exciting! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  7. I honestly believe you can excel at anything you set your mind to.

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