mumsnetBack along, my family and I swapped a house for a three-acre field in Devon and a leaky caravan where we lived off-grid for two years. Sadly, we failed to get the planning permission we needed to stay. We are now back within four walls, with a proper loo and everything in a cottage in Dartmoor. So this is now a blog about living ethically amid a fabulous landscape with our home educated kids while we adjust to being 'normal' - for a while... and what we plan to do with our land next

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Best laid plans

We handed in our planning application this week. Well, when I say handed it in, we attempted to do so – foiled once again by the lack of communications, a printer and electricity. We’ve been writing this application virtually full time for weeks and weeks now. An exercise made all the more difficult by the fact that we have to keep going to the library to use its facilities and wi-fi. This we have to do with children in tow – and while they like the library, they don’t necessarily want to be there for six hours every day.

But after many hours of research, writing and rewriting we could at last say it was ready. We set off in high spirits and as usual to the accompaniment of Led Zeppelin – a compilation album my daughter recently bought with her pocket money and which we have been listening to, ad nauseum, ever since. As usual, the children chortled their way through the middle section of Whole Lotta Love. ‘Do you think he’s met an alien?’ spluttered Matty, while Robert Plant shrieked ecstatically in the background. ‘No, he’s seen a ghost,’ gasped Sam to shouts of laughter. ‘Or sat on a pin,’ quipped Zena. Yes, well, something like that.

Anyway, we got to the library where we spent £30 printing out the application, only to have it rejected because it didn’t contain the site drawing. This was on Gully’s laptop and created on a piece of software that, of course, no one else has. This meant we needed to physically plug the laptop into a printer, which sounds simple but wasn’t, since we weren’t allowed to do this in the library and no one else we knew had a printer that seemed to work. Anyway, after a few days spent ringing around various friends and driving over half the county we managed to get it printed and the application was finally in.

We didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves afterwards. The application has consumed every waking moment – not to mention moments when we should have been asleep – for weeks. We sat in the caravan and felt lightened of load but vaguely directionless – so we had a nice cup of tea or two. Then we decided the best way forward was to make a long comprehensive list of all the things we have to do – which turned out to be very long indeed. We stared at it for a good while and then circled the things we thought were priorities in red and then stared at it for a bit longer. And then we put the kettle on again …

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