MMM I hear you say, what on earth is she waffling about now.

I shall tell you Dear Reader, I am living the right style of life for me (almost) but in entirely the WRONG place! The way I TRY to live, and the way I WANT to live simply do NOT fit in with city living!  At best, Adrian and I are seen as being mildly eccentric, others see us as completely barking, but those that know us well, are actually ENVIOUS!

I shall attempt to explain.  You already know about my beloved chooks, one of whom is actually under threat as she is apparently, making too much noise for one neighbour. You also know about our allotments, real little food producers this year, everything, touch wood, is doing very well indeed.  So, for fruit, veg and eggs, we ARE self sufficient, when it’s in season, and we are trying to extend that season this year, by making far more use of the poly tunnel.

No one we know thinks that is barking, well, except about the chooks, we are seen as an oddity for keeping backyard hens in a city!  they are ex battery hens, and have SO much more space here than they used to have, they scratch in the dirt, sunbathe, play and run around.  THAT is definitely an improvement on their previous home, where, when they reach the age of 18 months or so, they are sent to be Mechanically recovered Meat, IF the Battery Hen Welfare Trust can’t get to them first.

It seems to be the other things we do that bring raised eyebrows. We make jams and chutneys, and sell them to friends and colleagues, won’t make us rich, but puts money back for seeds and compost, jars, fuel etc. I spend my time outside of work, doing this, and making cakes and biscuits, yoghurt, and bread.  This also saves us a great deal of money, but peole often ask, “Do you EVER have a PROPER day off?”? Well, NO, I don’t, I LIKE doing what I do.  I have had the past 3 days off from my full time job, and during that time I have made the Blackcurrant Jelly, Tomato Sauce, baked a Bakewell Tart, Prepared a really good meal for us both, form scratch and taking my time over it, a luxury when you work I can tell you.

Today I already have a cake baking, am going to make a loaf and some more yoghurt, IF I have time, I shall also make some Mars Bar Muffins for work tomorrow. Many people at work actually say to me that I don’t really have time to work, and it’s true, I don’t. I LOVE this time I spend in my kitchen, it ISN’T the kitchen I dream of, that will come, but for now, it does all I ask of it. The solid fuel Rayburn is waiting for me somewhere, and it WILL be mine.

On top of all those domestic type things, we also keep a weekly watch on our units of Gas and Electricity. This is for two reasons, one, so that we can keep an eye on what we are using and what we are being charged for, and two, to challenge ourselves to use less of each!

To that end, we have unplugged all items from the wall when not in use, with the exception of the TV as that supplies the broadband etc and is a SWINE to reboot! We restrict washing up to one big lot rather than lots of small batches, washing is done no more than twice a week, and we have a super machine that can take a whole 7.5kg load, so we do as much at once as we can. 

With the latest increase in gas/electricity, we have also gone one step further with regards to lighting. we already have energy saving lilghtbulbs everywhere, turn lights off when no one is in the room, and only turn the light on when we can’t actually see.  However we have now purchased a couple of old oil lamps, in good working order, and we now use those in the lounge in the evening.  We shall continue to do so, we cannot afford to use any more electricity than possible in the current economic climate. At present we are using 4 units of gas a week, and have got the electricity down to 47.5.  Not bad, but I’m SURE we could get better, AND we shall have to be very careful with the gas in the winter now as well.

It seems more and more, that although we are at present, having to live in the city, we are returning more and more to a way of life that our Grandparents and great grandparents would have recognised. I for one relish the time when we can be EVEN more like it. YES I like 21st century comfort, heating, broadband etc, but I don’t believe it is the be all and end all.  IF I could only have broadband for 2 hours a day, that would be fine, I don’t think I could do without it, it’s the only way I have contact with a fair few people, but then, there would always be letter writing!  As a learning tool though, it has stood me in good stead, and I’d hate to lose that resource. TV I could live without, I have many books waiting to be read!

As for heating, I’d be QUITE happy with that Rayburn pumping out the heat and hot water, EVEN if I had to look after it and tend to it regularly, it will be my friend!  I would have no qualms in washing by hand and using a mangle either, though the wshing machine has a fair few years in it yet. My oil lamp collection WILL grow, and it’s a lovely light to sit in as well.

YES, life will be harder for us, we will be working harder, looking after animals, tending food crops, producing things to sell/barter, in all weathers at all times of year. Our days will be measured by the rising and setting of the sun, our planting etc by the turning of the seasons and the weather. I CANNOT wait, 22 months and counting!