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, 9 February 2013

Iron filing

Ironing has never been a task I have approached with any degree of enthusiasm and I have been quite happy to use not having any electricity as an excuse not to do any.

I generally don't mind sporting the slightly creased look, it kind of suits  me. Nobody would ever have said of me that I was immaculately turned out, even when I had a house and all the mod cons that went with it. But I have reached new heights of unkemptness since moving onto the field. It is a rare day that a piece of mud isn't adhering to some part of my person and I most frequently look as though I had been staggering around a waterlogged music festival for three days. Indeed, my former boss remarked he always knew when I had been sitting at his desk by the deposits of mud underneath it.

There have been times, such as when dressing for the office, that I might have wished for something less furrowed to wear. But I found that if I carefully dried the nicer shirts on a hanger, they could just about look passable.

So I wasn't feeling any great regret for the iron until I was hit by a sudden desire to learn to sew, which occurred around the same time our woodburner was installed.

I confess I didn't actually fully appreciate the relationship between sewing and ironing. Thus, I selected some suitable cloth and rushed home and tried to cut it out without first ironing the fabric. This resulted in the piece of material I cut resembling a dish cloth that bore scant relation to the pattern piece it had been cut from.

Then it occurred to me that our lovely woodburner has a hot plate on top - ostensibly for kettles, but conceivably for an old-fashioned iron too. The next day I called in at a reclamation yard near Exeter and was in luck; I parted with a fiver and in return was handed a lump of rust, which, with the application of wire wool turned into a fabulous little iron.

And bizarrely, it really works. I say bizarrely, because I had a vague sort of idea that it wouldn't be much good. That's an interesting mindset, I realised - thinking because it has been superseded by electric, more sophisticated, versions that it wouldn't work very well. But it does, even without the benefit of a thermostat, or water reservoir or anti-burn control.

It's also wonderfully tactile; quite small but pleasingly heavy and it has to be held with a cloth because the handle becomes very hot. Every time I use it I wonder about the many women's hands that have held it before and imagine my grandmother in her parlour using hers. All of which brings a physical and mental connection to what used to be a mindless chore.

So now I can be mindful about it, which is a somewhere I would never have considered I would be. Mindfulness, which involves among other things an attentiveness to one's present state, is considered in Buddhism to be one of the paths to enlightenment.

And who'd have thought ironing could help you get there!

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, you will no longer be able to find enlightenment on the Monopoly board (not that you ever could). After a month-long poll on Facebook, maker Hasbro has given the iron the boot (ho, ho) in favour of a stupid-looking cat - http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/feb/06/monopoly-ditches-iron-counter-cat?commentpage=1 - sigh!