There's been some confusion over my new-ish blog and many questions, rumours and speculation from lots of people ... friends, family and some of my previous blog readers. Van life suits me just fine, it's something I have always wanted, a smaller life and A Smaller Life are making me so happy but it's been a journey and a half to get here.
With so many questions from so many sources I thought that while I have a little bit of time, the use of the desktop computer and while I had some of the sorted out books to hand to photograph I would put a few records straight. Pull up your chair, blow on your coffee and get ready for a read.
The books on the table in the top photograph are a few of my favourites, they are books that I have read over and over ... in some cases since the mid 80's. Each in their own way, along with other as yet unsorted books, have inspired me and set me on a path for a simpler, slower and more rewarding way of life.
A box of some of the sorted books that we bought after starting, and whilst living Our New Life in the Country. Books that although at first glance are on a similar theme to mine, are much more Alan's sort of self sufficiency ... in my opinion more hardcore self sufficiency. And something I quietly rebelled at almost from day one.
In my mind I wanted back yard self sufficiency ... a vegetable plot, four hens, an open fire and a larder with enough homemade jams and pickles to see us through the Winter. Alan was on a slightly different tack and between us we grew our ideas and followed a wider, more diverse road.
Back in the Autumn of 2008 after watching the River Cottage television programmes we went to River Cottage HQ for a day out and met and chatted to the lovely Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. He had started in his first series in a similar way to my ideas ... small scale self sufficiency to prove you could feed yourself through the year from the garden of a rustic cottage. I bought into this.
He signed our diary for the coming year and confirmed in our minds that changing our lives was what we wanted to do.
Alan meanwhile was buying into the scale that River Cottage had grown into. The solar energy, harnessing wind power, making excess food to sell on at farmers markets, having more chickens to have more eggs to make everything self financing and well, just bigger.
We placed an advert in The Farmers Weekly and the Farmers Guardian to test the waters. Little did we know that within days we would have a phone call, and within weeks we would have upped sticks and moved ourselves and our pets to the opposite end of the country. Closing a business and changing our lives almost overnight. It was all an exciting and wonderful adventure.
We kept our diary ... and the ones for years after that.
Family and friends both old and new helped us build our new life, and we all enjoyed setting things up, life was good. And although I had many dark days, the excitement of this whole new way of life and blogging about it to my lovely readers kept me sane and made each day seem bearable.
We moved from the first rented farm in Oxfordshire to a smaller place in Berkshire while we saved the deposit for what we thought would be our forever home, and then when we managed that and found this house we moved again. We've built up a good life here over the last six years and the plan was always after a couple of years to be doing it together ... but plans don't always work out the way you think they will.
Alan never did retire from the day job. He discovered that he loved his work too much to stop and be a smallholder full time, and between the money it brings in and the way it keeps his mind whirring with ideas, it was something he just couldn't part with and I understand that completely.
But always at the back of my mind was my sort of self sufficiency.
So now this is what I am doing, what we are doing. Winding down in the gentlest of ways our self sufficient lifestyle in favour of a slower, simpler and yes Smaller Life.
One in which we take everything we have learned over the years and make it work for us in the way we each want it to work. Together, always together. Soulmates don't give up on each other, they bounce ideas off each other, share lives and adventures. Whether they be big adventures, small adventures or just ideas shared over a cup of coffee sat in the sun in the garden of caravan with dogs snoozing at our feet, birds singing in the trees ... and just a single row of Spring Onions and a rampant Spinach plant growing in an old tin bath.
If there are any questions please ask them on this post ... I don't normally do Q+As but I will today :-)