this house living malarky

well, truth be told our year of being back in a house has been a tricky one. i know we had no end of problems under canvas but i have to say i’d rather be there than here. yes i missed baths and easy cooking, yes we had neighbour issues but i still prefer that to this. i slept better, physically i was better, the children were more chilled out. i miss the simplicity, i miss the outdoors, i miss dim lighting and a lack of electricity, i miss the closeness of the whole family. here there are too many rooms to escape to, to many walls to put between us, we end up shouting out at each other and still not hearing, we end up sitting apart, even at night when we were up and the girls were asleep there was a proximity, now they’re a doorway, a set of stairs, another doorway and the other side of the room away, we go to bed and i can’t sense them sleeping nearby. we’ve just spent 4 nights at Tribal Earth and i loved it. i slept better, i was more awake and able to function in the mornings, when i woke in the night i could look over and see the girls. cooking was a bit rudimentary, but simple enough, i missed our compost loo but the loos were adequate and now we’ve discovered the beauty of the bucket shower my  bathroom requirements are easily satisfied (also at tribal earth they had a water trough with a fire beneath – something we talked about last year but were too busy to actually get round to). I don’t actually want to be in a tent again but a yurt or a hut of some kind would do the trick. i’m not sure how long i can live in a house, it’s stifling, it’s just so unnatural! would like to work out some kind of freezer/decent fridge solution though as keeping food cool & bulk(ish) buying becomes a bit of an issue with no cold storage.

anyway, there’s my latest rambling, and rambling it is.


A plea to the universe

People keep telling me that if I don’t tell people what it is I want, or rather if I don’t ask for what it is we need then I will never get/someone who can help will never know. So, that leads me to this blog post.
We do love lots of aspects of this house. We do not love some aspects of this house.
Truthfully though, we miss the woods, Boo misses her freedom,not just her freedom though, the ability to climb 20 different trees in a day, to build 3 dens, all different, to watch birds, lots of different birds! I crave hens, and pigs, and sheep, I crave the peace of woodland, coupled with the meditative quality of dappled shade. Ed, she just craves the woods – which seems amazingly odd considering how much she hated living in the woods…. In reality, it wasn’t living in the woods she hated it was in actual fact the disorganised life we had in the woods that she hated. The absolute awfulness of the weather (and Niges work hours) meant that the functional cooking area never became a reality, nor did the clean up area, the weather meant the shortish trek to the shower became a hike around the perimeter of the 5 acres of woodland we were living in. And then there was of course the planning issue. Ed did not like being watched, she did not like her comings and goings scrutinised by a miserable busybody who really had nothing better to do with her life than make ours miserable. If the weather had been better we might have been in better spirits, more able to shrug off the awfulness that was her constant spying but it wasn’t. I mustn’t forget the other two either, Yogi misses it, she says so a lot, I think it’s because I was more present with them, also she did in fact love squelching through the really icky mud in barefeet, feeling the mud squish up between her toes, she loved the compost toilet, the wee bale and she loved playing fairies amongst the trees. Finally we have Nige, he was happy in the woods, he likes nature, he likes it to surround him, he loves the sounds, the smells, the sights.
What I’m saying is, that although this house ticks many boxes, it doesn’t tick enough. We can happily survive in a much smaller house, I miss my childrens constant presence now that they run off and hide in their rooms, I miss the sparcity of ‘stuff’.
What we need dear reader is a house with some land and for some of that land to be wooded – or alternatively we need some woodland with a clearing and space for a yurt. We do not need a lot of indoor space, 2 bedrooms a kitchen and a bathroom will do us, but we do need outdoor space, I’d like to raise our own meat and grow our own veg, but for that we need space. We can’t afford much however and we need to stay local – the local home ed community is amazing and we have some truly wonderful friends, and of course Ed has been accepted to her preferred college and we need to stay on or near the bus route for that.

Someone asked today whether it was possible that moving back into a house (or this house specifically) might be what had triggered my illness. I don’t know, I can’t say but I feel things would be better viewed through the door of my cottage, with the hens clucking around in the background and the delighted squeals of my children as they clambered and swung in the trees.

So, if you can help us please do get in touch. It sounds like such a huge ask but if I don’t ask no one will know and things will never change.

organised, not chaos (maybe)

It seems that a new level of order is descending upon our house. What I once thought of as order and routine is no longer enough.

I have to say that some of it is down to FlyLady, I’m not saying I’m following everything because I’m really not even close BUT getting the emails each day makes me think – even though I currently don’t read them. Her control journal has been something I have picked up on, but I think that having grown up with ADHD and seeming to have not really grown out of it has meant that I have always liked lists in order to keep myself organised and I had more or less forgotten this somewhere between meeting Nige and now…. We now have not only a weekly meal plan, but a monthly meal plan. I’m aware of the budget and seem to be successfully grasping the concept! I cook pretty much every night exactly what was planned, and usually on time (not tonight though I’m running late but today didn’t really go to plan). Everyone (except Yogi but then miracles don’t really happen) actually likes the food I cook, we’ve even had guests over. Having guests over is a big thing on two counts 1. I felt up to cooking for others (and I didn’t even get stressed about it) and 2. the house was tidy enough to make it possible.

Our calendar is out and in use, I know what’s happening, who it’s happening for, where it’s happening and even when… The few workbooks the girls actually work out of are easily accessible, as are the pencils and the pencil crayons. The paper, the colouring things, the paints, the ink pads and stamps; all of them are there to be used whenever we need without too much effort. The girls have room to play with the Lego or the Playmobil without having to scrabble about and then hunt the pieces. The reference books relating to our current project are right here next to me on the shelf (Vikings in case you were wondering), and when we went to the library today all the books that needed to be taken back were, none needed to be renewed just because we couldn’t find them.

It’s lucky though that I’ve managed to get here as there are murky things on the horizon. Fingers crossed they’ll drop off the edge never to be seen again, but if not then hopefully the order that has been restored (I’m not sure I can use the word restored as it implies that there has been order at some point in the past….) will help us muddle through.

On a lighter note we’re planning a trip to Drusillas, hopefully this weekend, as I was lucky enough to be sent tickets from as part of their Britain’s best day out campaign  – I’ll be reviewing that for them just as soon as we get back. I haven’t been for years (about 12!) and I’m really looking forward to it, as are Nige and the smalls.

Not the life we’d planned

This new life is not the one we’d planned. The woods were tricky but this is not the solution. I don’t think there is a realistic solution for this year. I want woods, off grid living, peace & stability for the children. I want to spend time with them. I chose not to work, to home ed because I want to be with them. This does not give me that. I miss my children and I feel sad that others are ‘burdened’ by them. I don’t feel burdened by them, they are mine, I should be there for them, I want to be there for them.

It’s not just the smalls either, I have no time for Ed. She is left to her own devices and that is not fair either.

I meant to be present in my children’s lives, where my mum has been absent in mine.

It all changes tomorrow

Our lives are about to change.

Potentially they were going to stay the same. Ecocampuk won its planning application. This has though, meant that it is time for us to leave. Our only option for staying is to move the entire family into one 4metre belltent. The intention was that a planning application would be made to keep us here, doing forestry work in this area of the woods. The planning battle, the nosey neighbours, have meant however that it is one battle too much and the landowner won’t be applying.

We’ve had to think fast and we’ve had to think carefully – this is our life we’re talking about after all. Ed is upset about the change, but she’s pleased we’ll be leaving. The neighbours have made her feel uncomfortable, she hardly ever sleeps here. The rain and resultant mud have worn her down. They’ve worn us all down. We are, as a whole, sad to be leaving these woods. We all, Ed included, love our compost loo and peebale. We love the woods themselves, and the wildlife. We won’t miss the mud though, or the extra long trek for water and showers caused by the impassable bogs. I will miss living off grid. I like the way we live, and one day I would like us to live completely off grid again.

For now though we have a new chapter ahead of us. WOWO. We will be volunteering 40hours a week between us in return for living space, a space for our tents. Also, breakfast and lunch provided. There are gas showers and compost loos, there are also normal showers and loos a bit further away. There is a huge marquee, where we can all stay dry in the rain, a barn with wifi and electricity – Ed can get online more easily (as can we all). There are other families, other volunteers, many many campers.

The scary bit is we move tomorrow. Ed only experienced WOWO for the first time Tuesday when I took her over for lunch. She liked it, I hope she can be happy there. I hope we will all be happy there. We’ll certainly be a bit less muddy…. and, a bit less stalked!

Loneliness and our way of life.

I have to blog on loneliness too, but it’s not a new feeling for me. I’ve felt it for years. Having grown up in a very conventional place, with relatively conventional (well to the rest of the world) parents, in a place that hated the non-conventional (far too many gypsy settlers for anyones liking…), I seem to have deviated completely; and so far, other than Nige I haven’t found anyone that I feel ‘at home’ with.

I have friends, but too many of them refuse to understand my choice to Home Ed, our dietary choices, our lifestyle choices (and that was before we moved to the woods). Sadly, the few friends I do have that seem to understand, or at least accept are not local, and so, seeing them becomes difficult, especially if they (as mothers) work outside the home or send their children to school, these limit physical availability.

I am, by nature a very shy person. I have always hated meeting new people, not because I don’t want to but because I don’t think I’m interesting enough, or worth other peoples time (yes, I know I have self esteem issues). But, acutally I love meeting new people, I love to hear their story, to find out about them, and I love making new friends. But, (I know, again with the but!) I find it hard to keep them going. My life, always feels like a madhouse, I have moments where I have felt utterly bored with nothing to do and no one to see, but mostly it feels like I don’t actually have time to breathe. I keep hoping for a time when this will all change. I think that’s partly in our ‘future’, the one that I can dream but can’t actually believe. The one where we live among others who feel the way we do about children, about nature, about ‘things’ (I say blogging from my laptop and owning an iPhone…). The one with the roundhouses, the veg plots and the neighbours. The one with the communal campfire, the shared responsibility and the sense of belonging.


Internet Access and an Update

Today, I post from a place of comfort and warmth. I post from Caffe Nero in Haywards Heath. This post is not sponsored, they don’t even know I’m posting but after just having spent half an hour in Costas feeling watched and unwanted I retreated and thought I’d try it in here.

In Costas I asked whether it would be OK to plug in my laptop – now, it’s not like I have many options for this in my life, and I have been a regular in Costas, HH for 18 months ++ – ‘yes but don’t let anyone else see’…. not said in the jolly friendly tone it could’ve been said in. The wifi code, as always now, I had to ask for. I managed my half hour, not even really wanting to browse anything as I did feel rather unwelcome. As soon as my half hour was up I was out of there. I haven’t mentioned that I did in actual fact spend over a tenner on food and drink – not like I was in there on the total scounge, and I even have clean hair today!

Across the road in Caffe Nero. Access, to ‘the cloud’ is unlimited and uncommented upon by the staff, except to remind you that it’s simple to get on and you only have to register the once. My slightly hesitant question “would it be OK for me to plug in somewhere?” met with ‘of course, any of those, those or those tables along there are next to sockets.’ Wow, what a difference.

I am sat here now writing a completely different post to the one I thought I’d be writing and from somewhere different to where I expected. I have to say, the Scillian lemon cheescake is delicious (not even slightly paleo but after the week I’ve had….), the staff are super friendly, they smile – randomly (not in a scary ‘oh my god they’re staring at me’ kind of a way, more of a ‘nice to catch your eye, hope you’re enjoying that peppermint tea’ kind of way). It feels relaxed, the lighting is better. Other people are happily tapping away on laptops, and everyone looks genuinely relaxed. This will now be my place of comfort and warmth whilst blogging.

I think I’d planned an update on the camp situation. I think that’s important too so I’ll begin that now.

Today saw the end of am exhausting week. This week I have raged at our new life, loved our new life, cried at friends/the lack of locally.

You know how the week started so badly, with evil planning issues. I’m not sure of the situation there, I don’t think anything has been resolved but the neighbour who seems to have the biggest issue with ‘everything’ has been an almost constant presence in my life this week. I’m not sure how she has so much time available to her that she is around to watch each and every time the girls and I leave the woods. She watches us emerge, she watches us cross the field, the road; and then she watches me open gates, move the car, close gates and drive off. How on earth is it that mostly she’s there when we return? Well, she is, and then she watches the whole bloody process in reverse. The temptation to go and tell her to bugger off is pretty strong but I know it won’t help our case any. Over the weekend we had campers and I can’t count how many times I saw her but I can tell you that while I was ferrying campers about today (crossing fields with carts of equipment, loading it into cars etc) she passed by 8 times (as in she drove past 16 times), on one occasion, while I was helping a camper load the cart at the gate to the woods, she actually parked up behind a campers car – which had been parked less than 5 minutes – and took photographs. Now, she isn’t actually speaking to me or the children, she isn’t physically approaching us and to be honest I feel pity for her rather than intimidation – most of the time – but it is wearing. I am sick and tired of seeing her there, of hoping no one visits in case she comments on extra cars, on extra traffic. And then of course I feel alone. I feel alone because I’m worried that if we have visitors it will impact on our permission to stay, on the campsites chances of success in their planning battle.

I love the feeling of being in the woods but I do not love the thought of being watched, constantly. I love the nature, I love the sounds, the smells, the feeling of being in the woods. I do not love the excessive mud that we happen to have. I do not love the neighbours. I do not love the trek across the field, particularly as I am watched so often. In truth I don’t mind the trek across the field, it’s definitely improving my fitness levels, it has to be good for my heart (if it doesn’t give out mid hike…) but I do not like wondering who is watching, whether she is taking photographs.

What I really want, is, a woodland somewhere where there are others who feel the same. The same about nature, about trees, about children, parenthood and learning. Or if they don’t feel exactly the same they at least respect my freedom to feel how I do.

In this woodland and our forest adventure we are hurting no one, and no thing. We are careful about our woodland neighbours and we are considerate of our outer neighbours.

And I’ve just realised I’ve missed my bus home…. Caffe Nero closes in an hour and the next bus won’t be here for another hour and 57 minutes…. oops. Ah well, I’ll just hang out somewhere…