So here, we were on our next adventure. A man, a woman, a teenage girl, two dogs, a caravan and a trailer; setting up home in the woods. Twenty acres of undulating woodland, made up of hard and soft wood trees, which was unfenced and with no immediate neighbours other than the incumbent wildlife. This was our little piece of rural paradise hidden from everyone, a blank canvas to create whatever we wanted.
Living the ‘good life,’ from our perspective, and on a practical level, meant aiming to live a simpler existence. In order to fulfil another of our bucket list items, we wanted to pursue a version of ‘The Good Life,’ inspired by the 1970’s UK sit-com, of the same name.
‘The Good Life,’ for those unfamiliar with its television origins, focused on a suburban couple, Tom and Barbara Good, played by Felicity Kendall and Richard Briers. They opted out of traditional suburban life, when Tom reached his fortieth birthday, and decided to quit his conformist office job, as a draughtsman. They embarked on a mission to achieve a simple, yet self-sustainable lifestyle, whilst still living in the suburbs. To achieve this they changed their conventional gardens into allotments, growing fruit and vegetables for them to eat and with which to barter. In addition they acquired livestock, including chickens, pigs, and a goat, much to their neighbour’s disgust.
Over the years in the UK, in the various places that we had lived, we had dabbled with growing vegetables and keeping chickens, whilst managing a large family, and working full time. However, we had never really considered it in the context of being, in some small way, self-sufficient; it was more of a hobby. This time, we were in pursuit of a healthier and more self-sufficient lifestyle, albeit on a much smaller scale, than the television show. We established three large, vegetable patches, filling them with plants transplanted from our garden in Ipswich, which gave us a head start. The largest patch, furthest from our base camp, was known as, ‘Sarah’s secret garden.’ I would disappear down there towards the end of the day, light small fire to keep the mosquito’s away, and sit with my thoughts, my journal and my vegetables.
In addition, Nigel built a chicken hut and enclosure, made from Jaime’s old white laminate wardrobe. (Well, it was too big to go in the caravan.) We bought our first batch of point of lay hens in Millmerran, in eager anticipation of them producing eggs for our daily needs. Therefore, it caused great excitement when our chickens produced their first egg. Jaime, who was in charge of egg collection, made a special box for our eggs to be collected and stored in. As usual, Nigel who loves his food, was impatient for more. After the initial egg was produced, Jaime continued to collect them at the unhurried rate of one per day, from five chickens!
Patience is a virtue, and as Nigel has very little, distraction with other tasks was the way forward. He constructed dog kennels and a large,...