Thursday, 27 June 2013

Welcoming Enforced Simplicity

Something GREAT happens when this is what you wake up to every morning: 

The simple lifestyle that I have read about for so many years - ever since picking up Home Ecology in a charity shop on holiday in 1991- the downshifting mindset that I have tried so hard to attain, it simply falls into your lap. When you sleep next to a saw like this one and your wardrobe (a quarter full) is covered by blue tarp, plus there is a six foot high gap in your bedroom wall, dust-sheets at the windows, and the garden is half-covered with rubble sacks, you have no option but to simplify.

We have spent the past two or three months packing our belongings into boxes and storing them in the King's workshop, just so that we have space in which to work and to help prevent everything getting ruined by the inevitable soot and plaster dust that accompanies a loft conversion. Clothes, shoes, books, ornaments, pictures, toiletries, camping equipment, that kind of thing. In addition, we donated over half a dozen sacks of unwanted items to Shelter and Save the Children. We are now at the point where, not only do we not miss or hanker after the items we have boxed up, we don't even KNOW what is IN the boxes. I know my wedding dress is in one of them, okay, but essentially we are managing perfectly well without about two-thirds of what we own. 

No-one is going without. The children are going to school in (fairly) clean uniform every day, and I have worn about three different outfits over the past month, not including overalls. Meals are still eaten at our big dining table and showers have become something to really look forward to. All of a sudden, the King and I have a particular affinity with miners.

Our usual routine continues amidst the planks and plaster board; we just have very dirty feet at the end of each day. We still have our beds, which bring us great comfort and excellent sleep, mainly because we are physically worn out but not stressed. My little garden is serving us well; being able to pick fresh lettuce and - today, strawberries! - has been a lovely, if small, link with nature. Even though it is Wimbledon fortnight, rain has held off most days, which has meant I can get washing done, we are only traipsing dust (not mud) through the house, and we are able to take breaks from the sawing and drilling in the fresh air.

Having a carried half a trailer-load of breaks down to ground floor this week, and a similar amount of lath and plaster, I have some sense of what the housing crisis must've been like in The Blitz. Just a wall's worth of bricks or a ceiling's worth of plaster is a mess to be reckoned with. To have your whole home reduced to that kind of rubble by enemy bombers, and worse, to lose loved ones amongst the debris, is barely imaginable.

It has done us good already to have fewer choices, less space and minimal possessions. Already this month, we have celebrated in our ability to work as a team and to meet the physical challenges with muscles we didn't know we had. We have thanked our children for their patience and ability to amuse themselves (sometimes) and cope with continual change. What becomes important is rest/ sleep, food, and a shower. These basics, and each other, are all we need.


  1. I love the closing sentence of your post! Well said! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  2. It's funny how you find you can live without stuff when you are put in that situation. We moved to Louisiana 3 years ago, and my walls are still bare for various reasons. However, I am liking the fact that I don't have to clean all that stuff on the walls. Maybe it will just stay like this even after our plans are complete. Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist.


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