Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Packing up, Counting down

Lordy! how much stuff can you accumulate in eighteen years...That would be a lot. No really A LOT. Fortunately the very nice manager of the local Sainsburys gave me a few boxes for free. This was instead of spending a bunch of cash on proper moving boxes. It's surprising what you can get if you only ask! As you can see I've been inspired by the new series of Tommy Walsh's fix your house for free. This is where Tommy and his mate go off and try and get as many building materials for free out of skips, or going spare or sold as seconds at builders merchants. Julia is hoping that some of this thrift will wear off onto me! (and of course some of Tommy's rugged good looks!)

So Packing is going well, the ferry crossings are booked. All being well on the 2nd of Jan we will be in France for good. That's 38 days and counting down!

P.S. There is a prize for anyone who can correctly identify the hammer Tommy is holding

Sunday, 15 November 2009


I've been thinking. Actually I've been thinking a lot...about life. I guess when your about to do something truly life changing, it makes you think. This year I will be forty two and for the past 24 years I've worked a full time job. Next month I'll leave my current job after 3 years. My previous job I did for 11. The depressing thing is that for 14 years of my labours there will be exactly nothing to show other than the money earned. Zero. No product, nothing tangible to look at or point to. What a waste of 14 years. One thing I'm pretty sure of is that most people's jobs now consist of pretty much the same thing, and result in a similar outcome. I think this is one of the main reasons i want to go and live in France. Not to live in France but the opportunity for a change of life. It would be nice to finish the day and point to something achieved that day; something created. Don't get me wrong I know nothing lasts; houses fall down, jewellery gets discarded or melted down, clocks get binned. At least however there is something to show even for a short period. I also think its something deeply rooted in the human psyche; the need to create. My father worked hard all his life till the day he died at 55. The most precious things for me are the memories and the things he made. The memories I try to keep alive by telling my children stories about him, but after 20 years since his death it seems like a lifetime ago. But each time I go out into the shed after work and make something with one of the tools he made and stamped NQ, I do think he would be pleased with that.

Winding down

This week I've been winding down with my new book:

Actually its a really good book. For anyone wanting to drop out its got a bunch of useful stuff. The main thing it gives you is a sense that becoming self sufficient is going to be a long and difficult Journey. And yes the main thrust of this is one of living on no money rather than any sudden need to protect man's environment. Would the planet be any worse off without us? Anyway the book is really good with sections on going off-grid (handy since our house isn't on grid!), keeping animals, crop rotation, water harvesting systems etc.

Anyway, time for a cig....

Monday, 9 November 2009

18th Century ECO Modernism

What do you really need? Modern life seems to increasingly revolve around gadgets and stuff, but how much of this do you actually need? By most standards we're pretty good, no ipods, xbox 360's, wii's, automatic espresso machines, dish washers and the like. So much so that my colleagues at work were aghast to find out that not only was my telly not lcd or flat screen but neither was it even stereo; was I living in the dark ages and how did I cope! Well as far as I can see mostly very well. In fact most of the stuff we do have we don't use. But just exactly what do you really need? That got me thinking about how we will choose to live our lives, both in an ECO friendly and economic way. Looking back into the 18th century when our house in France was built people lived very differently, no electricity, no Tv, no washing machines; but then as a friend of mine pointed out the average mortality was about 45years old. This was not I suspect due to the lack of television and more to do the state of medical science and basic hygiene! So if you take that 18th century life and add in the bits of modern life that you really need what do you get: 18th Century ECO Modernism.

So hear is my list of what can stay and what can go:

To Stay
Internet access and laptop, washing machine, mains drinking water, Shower and WC, Electric lights, wood burning stove, Freezer, radio portable DVD player, Power tools (well were not animals you know) hair dryer(For Mrs Lemur), One Car, Generator.

And to go:
Electric kettle, TV, Fridge, Satellite TV, Mains electricity connection, Computer games, Mains gas, Dishwasher, Microwave, Toaster, Bread maker, Electric Mixer, Hoovers, Gas fire, Gas/Electric heating, Electric iron, In fact all other electrical kitchen appliances.

And will never buy:
And than there is the stuff that we don't have and never will have; Namely the afore mentioned wii's, Xbox, satnav, iphone, ipod, trouser press, coffee maker, Electric Tumble Dryer, cuddly toy (lapsed into the generation game there for a moment).

And lastly here's the list of stuff we're going to be making much more use of:
Candles, Hot water bottles, Slippers, Jumpers, Fork and spade, Food smoker, Air drying, Clothes maid, Bread oven, Veg patch, Assorted livestock, books, solar power.

The aim of all this is of course to bring our living costs down and reduce the amount of crap also. How we get on is of course a different matter and with two growing girls who are soon to be teenagers it will be interesting to say the least. My hope is the the laptop and internet will generally mean that they stay in touch with the 21st century while gaining an understanding of what's actually important and what's not? How realistic this is remains to be seen?

P.S. Taking the advice of our good friend Alison, we won't be throwing any of this stuff away. We will be packing it up with us and than we can either use it or later or if all goes to plan and we can do without it, we will find a good home for it then.

Friday, 6 November 2009

And now some good News!

I've heard today that the buyers mortgage valuation on our house in Coventry has come back OK and he now has his offer sorted. Hopefully that's the last big obstacle to selling the house so it looks like were in business. Now that's out of the way we can really start to make preparations to move. Tomorrow we can start packing our life up into boxes, order packing materials etc. I think we are going to get some flat role plastic tube. This stuff looks good to go around boxes and furniture to keep the damp out while its stored in our barn in France. In the mean time I've been filling out insurance claim forms for my car repairs..deep joy. Still they will have a month to get it fixed before it really becomes a pain, surely that can't be beyond the wit of man.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


Well this week has been a bit of a roller coaster. Flew over to Dublin Monday for an all day meeting Tuesday. Stayed over in Derby with the bro Wednesday and drove down to Reading for another meeting today. This was nicely rounded of by the fact that a Taxi driver drove straight into the back of my car at some traffic lights and totalled it. The Police attended and took statements and I spend half an hour in the back of an ambulance while the medics assessed my injuries. Nothing serious, I'm just going to have a really stiff neck. Will I miss the UK...err...NO. Ho-hum.