Monday, 3 November 2008

The future

Sunday morning has turned out to be very mild which is lovely as I can open the door and lie in bed almost in the open air. There is a very light rain but the stove is burning away and the radio is helping me with my morning worship. Everything is in fact rather lovely. It makes me wonder why more people haven't made the jump into a tent to weather their financial storms. For a thousand quid you can equip yourself with home and hearth and live a very comfortable life.

I have been considering my options about the future. the prospect of saving up for a house just so that I can live in a home owned by a bank is far from the ideal resolution to this whole caper. I am starting to wonder if I can retain this feeling of freedom beyond the intended duration of our camping spree. Living largely off the grid is very satisfying, maintaining my usual scruffy work persona seems to have been no problem and TLB still seems to relish the romanticism of open fires and starry nights, I have no reason to want this adventure to end.

What I want to do is buy some woodland. I want to buy some woodland and then build us a house to live in. Legally it could get complicated but I believe that if I can build a sufficiently low impact dwelling as to arouse minimal opposition, we can easily make life very comfortable and maybe end up with our dream home for as little as £50k. These are only the seeds of a developing plan and the winter may bring to bear some degree of realism that I currently lack, but I reckon with determination we can pull it off.

One of my all time heroes is a chap called Ben Law, I stayed with him quite a few years ago whilst I was working for an environmental magazine as a boy and the recognition of what he stood for has stayed with me vividly ever since. He was the broker of a land deal in West Sussex and into the bargain he managed to wangle himself a few acres of chestnut wood for £10. When I went to visit he he had built a log cabin which was used as kitchen and living room and had a yurt in which he, his wife and his child slept. He manufactured charcoal and walking sticks from the chestnut coppice that he was cultivating and he ran woodland management workshops to teams of eager Good Lifer's.

Ben spent many years in perpetual legal wranglings with various authorities after a complaint from a local busy-body drew attention to him but after a great deal of stress he eventually won the right to build himself a house. The terms of the planning permission are that he can never sell the house, he can only pass it on to his children or spouse and should he wish to leave it, the land must be left as it was found.

I have only seen the finished house on Grand Designs but have resolved to go and visit him in the near future to find out more about both planning permission and the practicalities of establishing a life in the woods. It would also make the whole thing a lot more tangible for TLB and maybe give us some inspiration. Ben Law is a trailblazer and he has many lessons to teach the world in these times of impending environmental crisis. Lessons about self sufficiency, community, harmony with nature and resistance to authority. Who could ask for a better hero?

1 comment:

Warren said...

Do a search for "earth ships" as a very comfortable but sustainable dwelling. Was considering going down this line at some stage as the idea of self sufficiency is very appealing

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