Monday, 10 March 2014

When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose

A long while ago we had this craving for a simpler life. About 3 years ago today I had my first encounter with a washboard and mangle at our first WWOOF hosts. Our first taste of off grid living. I'd been talking to Ady and the kids only the week before about how I thought a washing machine was a luxury item it would be easy to live without. About how in my Grandma's day there would be one day a week dedicated to laundry processing and that was just the sort of simple existence I was looking forward to us enjoying.

Except that I learnt with that very first experience of washboards and mangles that modern clothes are not designed to stand up to the harsh treatment that washboards or mangles give them. The choice was grass stains in the knees of our jeans or simply no knees in our jeans. A washing machine was one of the most recent additions to our life here and the novelty of that 'mod con' has still not worn off. Today I did four loads of laundry and although it is still a far cry from the days in a house when I'd stick the machine on and go off and do other things (go out, sit down, go to bed....) as it has to be monitored, it is still a massive leap forward from heading the mile down to the village with it and then hanging about while it washes, then carrying a bag of wet washing the mile back up the hill again to hang it out.

This is week four without a vehicle and while we are managing it is tiresome and time consuming. We don't have a lot of rubbish but bottles and cans soon build up so yesterday we trekked to the pier with a full wagon of recycling - a 2 hour trip which would have taken ten minutes in a car. For the same reasons I go through a pair of wellies every couple of months (walking several miles every day over ankle deep mud, sandy paths and rough rocky tracks) wheelbarrow and wagon tyres have a very limited life before they need replacing.

It is a simpler life, in many ways a more rewarding one but the slow pace of life means moving forward is frustratingly slow, foiled at too many turns and simply existing takes way more time and energy than you could ever anticipate.

There are joys too of course - during that two hour trip to the pier we chatted the whole way, bumped into various people, marvelled at the beauty of the weather, the wildlife, the landscape. I appreciate the full line of laundry blowing in the wind, drying in the sun in a way I never would have taken pleasure from before.

Definitely Living The Dream, just sometimes redefining it a wee bit to add in some extra bits to make it even better...


  1. The amount of times here I think I'll cycle to the shops/library/post office and end up taking the car! It's just quicker and there's always something else to do that you just want to get things done quickly. We were without a car for a year when baby number three was born and went everywhere by bike with the baby in a trailer. Life seemed calmer as I didn't commit to running here, there and everywhere. With the car you tend to think I can just nip there on the way to that and it just snowballs and you're running around like a headless chicken!

  2. I love reading your blog, I really admire you and yours for actually making the 'dream' happen. I used to think that i would like to have ' a good life' lifestyle growing our own/keeping chickens but I know I could nt do it!!