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

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Staying power

I have had cause of late to reflect upon all the people that have helped us on this mad caper we have embarked upon - and such reflection has made me come over all dewy-eyed and a bit gooey around the edges.

Nine months ago, we gave up a comfortable house and moved 250 miles across country to begin a dream of making a small-scale sustainable farm that would not just provide an income - but a way of life. In pursuit of this, we gave up many of the modern conveniences that hitherto we had taken for-granted - like running water, electricity, telephones, computers - and space, glorious high-ceiling rooms with proper doors that could be shut to obtain solitude and peace.

This has thus far been achieved with a patient network of support - from my mother and sister who have been there to help with laundry and essential child maintenance to the farmer who allows us to draw water and the people who put me up every weekend when I work in London.

This last group has been the source of a very profound sense of well being on my part. Every Friday, I commute to work after which I spread myself liberally around the metropolis and home counties staying with various friends, colleagues and relatives.

Not only is this a great privilege, but it affords me little windows of opportunity I would not otherwise have. Last weekend, for instance, I stayed at a colleague's house while she was in the US doing something intelligent and glamorous. She is in the process of renovating her house - and as a result all her possessions are packed away. This, combined with her new beautiful stone floor, has had the effect of creating a highly minimalist, peaceful space - which was all mine to enjoy. And enjoy it, I did.

It occurred to me as I sat in a path of a sunshine in the stillness of her house, that it was an act of great generosity to allow me to be there in her home.

Such goodness of heart is replicated every week; colleagues and friends welcome me into their homes. I sit in their kitchens, eat their food, wallow in their bath, and chat to their fantastic kids and I always come away with a great sense of gratefulness, warmth and affection. Best of all, these weekend forays have brought me much closer to my in-laws, with whom I have a default stay and whose warm and welcoming house has become a second home.

There are many things about this experience, such as the letting go of possessions, that have changed my perspective and made this adventure worth every moment, whatever its outcome. But I think this feeling of being surrounded by such decency and humanity will stay with me for life and hopefully, as the years go by, make me slightly less cynical and jaded than I may otherwise have become.

And that's better than a flushing loo any day of the week.

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