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

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Having a field day

'Let me get this straight,' said my friend Bridget. 'You're going on holiday – to a field.'

I've have been away a fair bit over the past few weeks, hence the lack of posts, and did indeed spend some of it in a tent in a field. A change, after all, being as good as a rest – even if it is swapping a very basic way of life in one field, for an equally basic way of life in another. Still, it was lovely. The kids spent the time going feral and filthy – so no change there – and the dog basked happily in the love of an admiring fan club. This consisted of a little girl and boy who lived in a nearby tent and who knew the hallmark of a truly noble beast when they saw one – unlike my children who will keep on insisting the dog is fat and intellectually challenged.

In fairness, I did get to spend some time in a hotel too, spending long hours in the bath to the annoyance of my sister with whom I was sharing a room.  'She's making the most of it,' my Mum said – and I was. I had spent a fortune on bathroom treats and was up to my ears in hot fragrant bubbles, a copy of National Geographic in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. Believe me, there is nothing like a bit of hot bath deprivation to truly appreciate a good long soak. In fact, I think next time I'll just pass on the sight-seeing and spend the entire break in the bath.

This holiday came at a bad time in terms of our planning application. We had to appeal within a month of our enforcement notice and this deadline coincided with my gadding about the country on pleasure bent.

Most of this year has been taken up with planning in one way or another. This requires an enormous amount of time spent on the computer in writing and research. Without electricity or the internet, this annoyingly has to be largely done in a library. Now don't get me wrong, I think libraries are proof of the inherent goodness of mankind and I am completely with Stephen Fry, who has lauded public libraries as 'unreservedly great'.  However, our nearest library is nine miles away and it is not always convenient to pop there to look up a minor point of planning law – moreover, it is shut on Wednesdays.

We can, at a pinch, look up some things on the internet using the mobile phone, but in order to do this we have to stand very still on a particular spot in the caravan, facing east and trying not to breathe. While we do this, the internet very, very slowly loads; each new page we click on also loads at a snail's pace, then, just as the page we want appears, we breathe, or shift our weight slightly and the connection is lost. Then we curse and stamp about and kick the dog and this is therefore not a healthy exercise for anyone, particularly the dog.

So all this palaver has robbed us of time we could have spent preparing the field. Still, the appeal is in now and although we have plenty of work to do for it at least the deadline is not imminent and we can now turn our attention back to the field and preparing for tree planting.

But before that can happen, I've still got a couple of camping trips to fit in before the end of summer.

You can take the girl out of the field ....

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