Tuesday 28 June 2016

Lodge House Challenge

Perhaps parenthood has changed my husband and I irrevocably.

Not perhaps.

Let me start again.

Parenthood has changed my husband and I irrevocably. We seem to have suddenly developed the capacity to see into the future - to peer into the mists of the unknown - and imagine the world as it might be when our son is grown up.

It's frightening.

So frightening, in fact, that we are making whole scale, radical changes to the way we live. We are going to 'opt out' as some might call it, 'go back', regress to a past in which children played outdoors, vegetables grew in the garden, time moved slowly and life was altogether more simple.

Here's how it goes:

Instead of earning over forty grand a year as a Senior Manager in a lively Secondary school, I am going to teach a little part time and do my best to be a stay at home mum.

Instead of belting it in opposite directions down the M40 each morning, we are reducing our commute to work to 20 minutes. I'm renovating my bicycle.

We've taken a lease on an 18th Century lodge house on a large estate in Oxfordshire. There are no neighbours. There is about 0.5 acres of garden, some good stone outbuildings and a serious amount of woodland. It needs a lot of work, but we will just about afford it on our new limited budget.....

....if we stop buying stuff.....

So, the plan is to buy less and make more.

We've very little furniture, so upcycling is the order of the day. A trawl of local tidy tips, antique markets and charity shops will need to produce a kitchen work bench, wardrobes, chairs, cabinets, towel rails, shelves and tables.

All those household chemicals - bleach, surface cleaner, fabric softener, fire lighters and polish are all going to have to go. They are bad ecologically and economically. We're going to replace them with some old fashioned wizardry with bicarbonate of soda, lemons, oranges and white spirit vinegar. Landfill will be spared the plastic bottles they come in.

Glass bottles and jars I am going to start hoarding. I'm planning to store the preserves, pickles, jellies, jams and delicious cordials we create in those. Our restricted budget means regular wine is off the list. We drink too much anyway. We thought we'd have a go at hedgerow booze - elderflower wine, sloe berry gin, that kind of thing.

In a nod to greener energy we shall be using some solar power and wood, our sustainable local fuel source. 

Finally, and most importantly, our aim is to create a kitchen garden and build a chicken run, becoming self sufficient in eggs, veg and herbs in 24 months.

All because we had a baby.

For the record, I don't call this 'regressing' or opting out. I'm not harking back to an idyllic past. We are 'opting in', building a future, making waste a thing of the past and the great outdoors a pleasant place for the future. 

It is all rather daunting. Our new adventure is an ethical choice - it might not be for everyone, it might not be for us, but we are going to have a go and hopefully we will have much fun along the way. Keep us on track and follow our journey at #Lodge House Challenge, learning to #livelightly. We are bound to make some funny mistakes and we won't be shy in sharing them!

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