Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Throughout my life I have always tried to have attainable goals. There is no point setting yourself extraordinary tasks that you are unlikely to complete and I am not much one for setting myself up for a fall. When I think about it, it seems the only sensible path through life. Any ambitions I have had have been tempered by what I thought was possible and achievable.

When I formulated my tent plan I realised it was pretty ambitious, there will be considerable hardships along the way but the rewards dramatically outweigh them. In many ways, the scale and silliness of the plan serves to increase the likelihood of success.

For a start, I doubt that the land is reaching tent saturation point. Farmers and camp-sites, to my knowledge,don't have to worry about constantly fighting off requests for medium term pitches from people in tents. I will be a novelty and I hope this will increase the chance of success.

Secondly, I will have sold nearly all of my worldly possessions. It would be most embarrassing to have to come home with my tail between my legs and start from scratch. That would be a failure I am not prepared to accept whereas if I put all of my stuff in storage I will have considerably less to lose. It could even be argued that very sensibly storing my worldly stuff would diminish my chances of success

I am starting to realise that the plans most destined for success are the big ones. There are problems with sensible planning and achievable aims that are not immediately clear but upon scrutiny reveal themselves to be blindingly obvious. When your ambitions are tempered, they are not as important and are thus more likely to fail. Big plans usually have larger rewards to ensure continued motivation and there is much less competition for occupancy of the niche into which only the very ambitious and the slightly barking venture.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Bargains for All

I now have lists for things to keep, store, sell, give away, throw away, return to rightful owners, buy, do and remember. The longest of these lists is things to sell. So, for your viewing pleasure and opening to all enquiries here is the list...

1 Blue comfy chair - Would suit old lady with low standards. - £30
1 Small Bookshelf - Hardwood, 3 shelves, 4". - £30
1 Coffee table - Tough enough to do the nasty on. - £30
1 Crap mattress - Brand new. - Free
1 Djembe Drum - Barely played, much coveted. Someone please put it to good use. - £100
1 Film collection - Loads of good. Hardly any dross. About 400 thereof. - £3 each
1 Freezer - It's cool. - £50
1 HiFi - Nad amp paired to very capable pair of Hitatchi speakers. - £100
1 Large Bookshelf - 200cm*160cm*60cm, stained pine. Damn heavy. - £50
1 HP Laser Printer - mostly used for complaining. - £50
Snorkelling equipment - 2 of everything in a bag. - £50
1 Sofa - 3 seater in red. Very experienced. - Free
1 Padded Chest - Gross green colour, bought for re-upholstering (as if). - £30
1 Sharks Jaw - I killed it myself. - £5
1 Airsoft Gun - Not for sale to minors or Tim Boorman. - £20
1 Wall mounted cork screw - doesn't work, never has, chic rustique. - £400
1 Alarm Clock - plays CD's to a fashion. - Free
1 40" Sony Bravia LCDTV - Awesome. - £500
1 Playstation3 + 5 Games - *sobs gently* - £250
1 Set of Jumping Stilts - Insanely dangerous. - £100
1 19" LCD Xerox Glassfront Monitor - Big and shiny. - £100

I shall add more things as they come up which I am sure they will. If you think you may want any of this stuff let me know or it'll be on ebay next week. I can send photos and am happy to haggle.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


I would just like to apologise to the bean counters whose judgement I maligned. They have managed to secure me an internal transfer to a horribly technical role which will keep me very much on my toes. It would appear that finding employment is one less challenge I have to face and this does somewhat assure an easy transition into my tent. This has really made my day so I will keep this short as I still have lots of celebratory dancing to do.

Woo hoo.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


As a salve to my job problems, I was angling for an internal transfer. That now seems to be unlikely because the bean counters can't be trusted with anything but beans. I have spent some time hunting for jobs and have lined up a few interviews. It would seem that the likelihood of starting work on the 4th August is dwindling and in some ways this could be a very good thing. In some ways it could be considered very bad.

I now have the option of spending a bit of August sorting out my house to ensure that I get my deposit returned, will be on hand to deal with ebay enquiries and can gradually wind down my house based existence. At the end of the month, I shall up sticks and move into the tent. Worst case: I could run out of money pretty sharpish if I do not find work. Ah well, I am sure it will all come out in the wash.

Monday, 21 July 2008

How others have done it...

Type 'living in a tent' into google. The top responses are here, here, here, and here. I think we may have a little social stigma to overcome along the way...


It looks like a lot of people are going to have to give up driving before long. It is already reported that fuel sales have dropped by 20% following a doubling in crude prices in the last year. On the other hand, a budget holiday company reported growth this year, despite the inclement economic weather.

What would you be prepared to give up first when the budget gets too tight? Holidays? Fuel? Luxury food? Smoking? Your house? I was reading about the Darwin family whose 'canoeing' father did a runner to avoid £250k of debt. At what point does it become more favourable to tell your children that their dad is dead than to deal with your debts? I could give up expensive food, try to drive less or fake my own death but these attempts to economise would pale into comparison next to the saving that could be made by abandoning my house and setting up within tent.

Quitting smoking would pay health dividends I am sure but would save me a meagre £50 per month. A holiday habit may cost you as little as £85 per month but a car, with servicing, insurance, fuel and maintenance can cost £400 per month easily. My house currently costs me at least £1300 per month. It should be far more effective to make a massive change and reward myself with a nice holiday and a pack of fags.

I remember as a child hearing a grown up remarking on the number of cheap houses with satellite dishes and the crazy priorities of their inhabitants. I remember being amazed by the statistics that show that the poorest elements (god forbid we actually talk about people!) of society are more likely to smoke and play the lottery, even though they have the least amount of money to waste. Could it be that in the face of the economic hard times, we find ourselves more inclined to flick on the TV and eat crisps rather than sell the TV and start peeling spuds?

I have done so for a long time but no more, I am actually going to sell the TV.

Monday progress...

I have had a second interview for a technical role within the group I am already working for, they seem to like me. The problem is that they have no recruitment currently under way. I am sat in one corner of the building with not very much to do and another team has a desperate need for more programmers not 100 metres away. It costs as much as £15k to recruit a new programmer and they are quibbling over head counts and internal transfers.

This happened to me once before, my department was closed at a former employer and I ended up getting made redundant because the management would not authorise a move to a parallel department. I am hoping that I have managed to highlight the madness to the powers that be and that I will be the beneficiary of a seamless and hassle free transfer, I know I have a few allies in the human resources dept so all I can do is sit tight and wait. I would very much like to stay where I am but I have an offer for another job that I do not wish to take. There is only so long I can hedge my bets and I am hoping to have this all resolved within the next few hours.

Once I know my fate, I will be able to start planning where I am going to stay.

The most daunting task on my horizon still remains the disposal of all of my worldly goods, the vast majority of which I have now resolved to sell. So, if you know anyone who wants a 40" TV, a playstation3, a drum, a huge collection of cables and computer peripherals, a freezer, a collection of snorkelling gear or any number of other very nice but effectively useless items, please drop me a line.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Location Location Location

It would appear that my first priority is to find a new job. Once I have found a new job, I can then start to think about where I will be based and make moves to ingratiate myself with the locals. I do not want to go too far from TLB so I will be looking in the Surrey/Berkshire area.

To my mind there are 2 types of places I can stay, camp-sites and private land. My preference is private land though it will be a mixed blessing if I find such a place. Camp-sites have obvious advantages: showers, toilets, electricity, access etc. The main problem with them is that they usually have maximum staying periods and they often close during the low season. This will mean that I am going to have to stay on my toes and always be on the lookout for my next pitch.

I have considered going in with a cover story, telling camp-site owners that I am in the area on a short term programming contract and the most economical way to live for the duration would be in a tent and can I stay for 3 months? This may let me negotiate a discount for medium term booking and maybe even score a plum spot on the camp-site, I think that will all come down to the geniality of the owners and the popularity of the site. Time will tell, though if I can only get a maximum of 21 days out of each site there should be at least 100 days worth of camp-sites within easy reach of my current workplace. There are however no guarantees that I will be working here which is why this is all rather theoretical.

Camp-sites, hopefully, will only ever be a short term solution to my medium term problems of somewhere stable to exist. The infinitely preferable option would be to live on some private land with the permission of the owner, in exchange for money, labour or some other form of remuneration. I would obviously have to generate my own power and access to water may become more of an issue but these are problems I should be able to overcome.

The big question is... how on earth do I find land owners of this ilk? I can appreciate that most landowners, when confronted with a scruffy man and a dog will be doing everything possible to get them off the land, not inviting them in with open arms and suggesting good spots to pitch a tent. I think that this particular challenge may well be the one that ends up defining my adventure. I have a few ideas of how to get in with the local landowners...
  • I have links into the horsey community through a dog walking friend and may be able to find an equestrian based property with which I could come to some sort of agreement.
  • I could try advertising in the likes of Surrey Life and Country Life and as many posh local journals as I can find in a bid to secure the attentions of some right thinking landed local person who could find a use for having a strapping young lad on site, if only for peace of mind.
  • I could try and get in with some local hippies and pitch on a corner of their rainbow land collective, not that I think Surrey is exactly brimming with such places.
  • Local classified advertisements, hoping for the sympathy of some likeminded local.
  • I could just try cold calling farmers from the phone book.
None of these ideas really inspire me with huge confidence, but I have a feeling that these are the sorts of things that will find me by word of mouth and I know I have a few allies out there who will be keeping an ear to the ground. There is of course a third option - camping rough.

Finding myself a quiet spot in some country park carries with it a number of issues. All of the facilities that I will require to live will need to be provided but there is also the very high possibility of discovery, abuse and/or arrest. It is almost inevitable that people would find me, this is a dinky little island and I am pretty sure that no part of southern England remains undisturbed by dog walkers or local kids for very long. I have rough camped out on Dartmoor, having walked for a day to what I consider to be the most remote, inhospitable spots and still when I wake up I will be greeted by someone in a Barbour and wellies on their morning dog walk past the entrance to my tent.

I am pretty sure that without further qualifications as a Ninja, the rough camping option will be reserved for only the most dire circumstances. Circumstances which may I add, I am loathe to consider now. As it stands my plan at the moment is to book myself into one of the local camp-sites, negotiate as long a period of stay as possible and use that time to find a permanent place to stay, as well as equip myself for that very eventuality.

Okay, so it is not the most water tight plan but I knew there would be some risks involved. Once I know where I will be working I can start to target my efforts towards finding somewhere lovely, preferably near water, woods and a nice cosy pub.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


Possibly the biggest consideration in my adventures has to be my lovely Girlfriend. We have been together for about 6 months and have thus far been having a lovely time doing all the usual couply things. She has bought a ray of sunshine into my life and it is of the highest order of priority that I keep her happy.

Is what I am doing worthwhile? Insofar as I trying to save some money, it will benefit us both in the long term but will the short term discomfort be too much? I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that it is not.

Firstly, I know that ladies are usually a little more sensitive about toilet facilities than us boys. With this in mind I have been looking to find a suitable solution to our ablutionary needs. I have found a coleman portable toilet that is pretty cheap and would look to do the job very well. I have consulted a few friends and they report that they are a universe away from the usual festival chemical toilet affairs, they are hygenic, reasonably odourless and easy to maintain and transport. I have also found a source of organic, enviro-friendly toilet chemicals so will have to try them out.

Privacy is also a consideration, I cannot imagine the lovely lady wanting to spend a penny in front of guests (or indeed the guests wishing to relieve themselves in front fo me) so I have also managed to track down a 1 player tent specifically for the purpose of housing a porta-loo. Okay, so what we have here is not the most decadent enthronement but it will provide privacy, hygeine, and hopefully will avoid lengthy walks to toilet blocks or squatting in bushes.

Showering is another problem that will take a little more thinking about. Being the lady that she is I know that she will appreciate the ability to properly freshen up. She may even want to use it herself on occasion! The two options I can discern are solar showers and powered showers. Personally I may consider opting for the solar shower as I am likely to have showers at work (not forgetting that I am 'ard) but I think for the sake of ease and considering that it will not get used that often, a gas powered shower will do the trick nicely and if I am crafty, I can integrate it into the toilet tent for a one stop ablutionary solution to meet all our needs (can you tell I have been writing tender documents this morning?).

Washing up, minor ablutions and general cleaning can all be done out of a washing up bowl and could provide an excellent catalyst to water fights, romantic pair-preening and dog soaking. Ahhh, the romanticism.

So, we have toilet, shower and privacy. The only other real considerations are day to day warmth and comfort which are as applicable to myself as to my beloved so need not be considered here.

My lover has the power to make or break this adventure and I would not consider it without her support. I can not thank her enough for focussing on the romanticism and independence rather than the weather and impracticality. Lady, if you are reading this, there is a big kiss awaiting you in the tent of love.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Back to Work

It is Monday morning and after a couple of days of being ill last week, I am now back in the office. One of my colleagues has nicknamed me Swampy which is most endearing. On the whole they are supportive but think I am a bit mad. I have also managed to get the HR Manager for the group to be sympathetic to my cause so an internal transfer is looking quite likely.

The reactions I have been getting from people fall broadly into two categories, there are those who insist I must have lost some element of my grip on reality and there are those who appreciate my creative approach to solving the problems that reality presents. I have been pretty universally branded as a hippy, a point I have no problem countering as I extol the virtues of the free market and the liberty it affords me. It has been a purely economic decision, admittedly there are incidental benefits that will score me points with the hippies and the dog lovers and the land reformists but they are not my primary concern. My primary concern is ridding myself of debt.

I have also been trying to make some sort of case in my mind as to why my debt could be the fault of society. Sadly it is not, it is entirely my own fault and the buck does rather seem to stop here. There seems to be a deluge of media attention regarding the levels of consumer debt, the crashing housing market (which I hope to exploit in a couple of years), the sub-prime credit market, the list goes on. There seems to be a thousand reasons to excuse people from the responsibility of their own financial inadequacy.

Were I to believe what I am told by my television, the most effective way to manage any debts I have is to take out a 'consolidation' loan. The small print at the bottom details that a consolidator is likely to extend the period of their repayments and increase the total payable amount. These however are mere details when there is a big red 'get-a-loan-in-one-minute' button to distract what has been proved to be an impulsive and financially risky bunch.

It is very easy to feel like a statistic, the knowledge that 6 million families in the UK are getting bogged down with debt actually makes me quite happy, I can afford repayments, I can get more credit with ease if I choose. Loads of people can't, does that mean that I am alright after all? No, sadly not. My debts amount to less that 20% of my current annual wage, a comparatively mild peonage. Nonetheless I am seeing that my best option is to move into a tent. God knows how many people do not have this option and are genuinely trapped by their debt bondage. It is by doing something now that I can ensure that I will not become one of them.

The government seem to spend a lot of time tackling very personal problems like debt, obesity and smoking on one hand, yet with the other hand are encouraging the industries that perpetuate these problems. Given the chance to run amok, the marketing people will sell you a diet plan in one advert and then assure you that you deserve to treat yourself with a cream pie in the next. The insane thing is that all of us, every day, vote for this sort of world with the money we spend, filling up our cars and buying dirty burgers. Capitalism is blamed for a great many of the worlds ills, but the responsibility for it lies with each and every one of us, because we do in a very real sense, vote for the world that we want with the money that we spend. It certainly has a hell of a lot more effect than which well shod ape we think should represent us in Parliament.

So are we then a helpless group of automatons? Why do we seem to act outside of our own long term self interest so often in favour of a war fuelled fast food economy? These are not questions I have the answer to, I am as much of a victim of the advertising jingle and the must-have-new-thing as the next person which is why I am in the situation I am in now. But I do intend to do something about it, before I have gone so far down the road of blithely letting every penny of my income get syphoned off before I even get to see it.

Damn the direct debits, damn the landlords and the interest hungry banks, damn the £6.99 monthly payment to some credit checking agency to alert me that I am still a valid member of society. I am going to use my not inconsiderable vote to endorse tents, dogs and cheap cars. I am going to vote for the freedom to choose where you want to live and how you want to do it.

It is the only real protest I have and ultimately I am not protesting to or about anyone but myself. Let's just hope it works.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

The Dog

My dog is a very happy creature, incredibly popular everywhere I go, last night in the pub 4 separate people came over and said hello and we were only there for a pint. I think he could be a considerable asset in my quest to find places to camp, though he will also present some considerable logistical problems.

On the plus side, he is charming and friendly to all he meets and he looks like a teddy bear. People seem to instantly fall in love with him and I am sure he could melt the heart of even the sourest equestrian spinster. He is also a huge fan of camping as it means he gets to sleep in the same room as the boss and he spends loads of time outside. When it comes to territory though he makes a great guard dog and is plenty big enough to eat any ne'er do wells that happen upon us.

On the down side, I am not going to be able to leave him in the tent during the day. This means I either need to find work which will accommodate the little swine, or I need to find somewhere for him to go during the daytimes. I have a dog walking friend who would be very grateful of an extra £100 per month but it could result in a lot of travelling about and potentially increase any commute I do enormously. I reckon I am going to have to find some strategy for finding new dog sitters fairly regularly all the while I am flitting from place to place in search of a semi-permanent home.

All in all, I reckon this whole caper will make the dog ecstatic on a pretty much constant basis, he will spend his days with other dogs and his evenings in a tent. I often wish I could be the dog for a bit and him do all the organising, though we would probably end up living on the lawn of a lady whose Vizla he has recently fallen for.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Motherly Love

I got a message from my Mum this morning. I hit the listen button and was greeted by a very concerned sounding mother describing the horror with which she had watched the heavens open over her all day. She said she had been thinking about my plan to move into a tent and that she was not sure it was such a good idea. She couldn't bear the thought of me being wet and cold and alone in a tent and asked me to consider very carefully what I was doing.

I duly spent some hours evaluating my desires and ambitions. I realised that she may well be right regarding the discomfort I may have to endure. I am not sure I would like my offspring (when they eventually materialise) to expose themselves to the weather, the inevitable pitfalls of doing something so unconventional, the cruel critics, the damp.

I am not sure I would like to think of my first born son as of no fixed abode and living in a tent, prey to the vicissitudes of fate and foul weather and it is for these reasons that I have come to a decision. I have decided that I should delete my mothers answer machine message and forget I ever heard it.

Problem solved.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

My new abode

It is now 3 days since I had my epiphany, it is absolutely bucketing down outside but it will not dampen my spirits. It is making me more mindful of waterproofing. I have been looking about for tents and have pretty much settled on a bell tent design. They are easy to transport (unlike a yurt or a tipi) but are plenty big enough to stand up in and generally inhabit.

I will be able to have a little wood burning stove and plenty of room for sleeping quarters, cooking space, general living space and storage. I will not have very much stuff so should be quite spacious though I once had exactly the same thought about a 4 bed house, which is now crammed to the gills with pointless guff.

The bell tents come in two designs, a fixed groundsheet and a separate groundsheet model. I think I am going to hedge my bets and get a fixed groundsheet as it will be eminently more weatherproof but it will mean that I cannot roll up the sides when it gets hot. The same company also supply groovy little wood burners so I intend to get one at the same time, will cost me about £550 for Tent, burner and flue. This is considerably less than a months rent and should see me right. I have a few Afghan rugs at home, an inflatable bed, some cushions and a variety of conventional camping gear. Aside from the tent and burner, I think I should have everything I need at the outset, I am sure in a little while that I will be wanting some tarps and some extra weatherproofing measures but for the time being I reckon I should be alright.

The amount of stuff that I can carry is limited by the amount of stuff I can get in my car. I have a medium sized saloon car at the moment though suspect I will need to trade it in for an estate car before long. For the time being though I have a roof rack which should allow me to cart enough stuff about to live pretty damn comfortably. I shall be back later, in the meantime I have an interview for a new job...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Refining the Plan..

In a slightly rash move I have quit my job. I had no work to do and was employed by a CCTV company so I am going to try my hand at one of the other jobs that seems to come my way quite often. I should have no trouble getting a new job, and will need to do so by 3rd August. It will however slightly complicate my plans. Never mind, no one said it was going to be easy and if I can change several bad elements of my life in one go then brilliant.

I have to give 2 months notice on my house so I did that this morning. That means that I will be sleeping under canvas for the first night on the 10th of September, before which time I need to do the following things:
  • Buy a suitable tent
  • Get a job
  • Find somewhere to stay in aforementioned tent
  • Get all of the things that I will need to survive in said tent
  • Dispose of a large house full of assorted stuff and settle all outstanding bills
  • Get my car back on the road (company Lexus goes back!)
  • Sort out mobile broadband and a laptop (if one does not come with new job)
  • Redirect all my post to an as yet unknown destination
  • Find a dog sitting type person to look after the alien during the daytimes
I think that is it, I am sure more stuff will come up and I know that many of those can be divided into many sub-tasks but it will do for the time being. It would seem I have my work cut out.

The tasks can be broadly grouped into two, sorting out a new living arrangement and disposing of the old one. The latter task will prove to be by far the more challenging. I have to take all of my possessions and split them out into things I wish to throw away, things I wish to keep but not take and things I wish to take with me.

I have to find somewhere to store all of the items that I do not want to get rid of, which brings up a couple of interesting questions for me. For example, regarding my TV, should I sell it or should I store it? If this project is a success and I do survive for a year or so, it will be better off sold, but then should I hedge my bets and sell it a few months down the line when I have a better idea as to my fate? Would that show a lack of commitment that my readers would use to sow the seeds of doubt in my sincerity?

I am not doing this as a dare or to prove some lofty point, I am doing this to see if I can. If it is too much hassle then so be it, but it would have to be quite a lot of hassle to make me prefer to stagnate in suburbia where there is exactly no adventure. You'll be the first to know. Either way, I am homeless and jobless inside of 60 days so I am going to have to do something. Game on.

Monday, 7 July 2008

The Plan

I am a computer programmer, living in a big house in Surrey with my Lexus and my gigantic wide-screen TV. I have a lovely dog, a lovely girlfriend, great prospects, not a care in the world, or so the theory goes. To most, I must appear to have a fantastic life, all of the worldly hallmarks of success are mine, I eat in good restaurants, get paid well, get to go on holidays abroad, can buy what I want, all is good in the world.

So why have I decided that I want to go and live in a tent? Well, funny you should ask, here are my reasons...
  • I am tired of constantly having to fight just to keep my head above water financially.
  • I intend to pay off all debts (about £10k) in as short an amount of time as possible.
  • I am tired of living in picket fenced suburbia.
  • I am tired of having a fixed environmental overhead that I can do nothing about.
  • I am tired of paying council tax when they can't even get community recycling sorted out.
  • I love the great outdoors.
  • It would make my dog very happy.
  • I went to Glastonbury festival... again.
This blog is intended to be a journal of my progress from a wasteful suburban existence to a low impact nomadic one. I intend to keep my job and my dog and my girlfriend, I just plan to shun the convention of living in a house. When all my debts are paid, I will reconsider how I want to live, but until then, I am committed to some self imposed penance.

Right, that sets out basically what I want to do, the details will all get thrashed out in the terrible dawning of reality that awaits me, for the time being, I must ride this wave of enthusiasm long enough to make it happen.

Wish me luck.
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