The Good Life

My sister stayed with us for a few nights and was teasing me about my aspirations and dreams being akin to the lifestyle pictured in ‘The Good Life’ so I thought that was an appropriate title for this post!

I feel like we’ve been here forever and although I really miss our Brighton friends, I bloody love living in Devon (excuse my language)! We’ve settled in and have found a rhythm to our week; library and pizza day, forest school day, home ed meets and dancing day. Lovely stuff! The rest of our time is spent meeting friends or pottering in our garden which is coming along nicely, I’m so happy with it!

We’ve planted carrots, garlic, onion, squash, sunflowers, tomato’s, salad and got potatoes chitting inside and strawberries on the windowsill in a propagator. Things are sprouting and Sophia and I are equally delighted with watching the process.  We also have an abundance of comfrey in the garden so are making some plant food to feed to all our seedlings which feels quite satisfying.

Next on the list is to prepare the potato bed and I’ve promised Sophia that we can make some ‘cakes’ to put in the bird feeders…in fact, typing this has reminded me that I need to buy some lard and seeds!

I know I’m rambling on about the garden but we’ve spent so much time out there in the last few weeks, I almost feel that it has proven more beneficial for the kids than the extra space gained by living in a house and not on a boat (I hope that makes sense, I know what I mean!) Both of them really thrive outside in a way they don’t when they are confined by walls. Isaac, in particular, just loves being outdoors. Each morning, he finds his wellies and toddles over to me or Dan with them with an expectant ‘da?’, desperate to get out! He’s still fairly obsessed with ‘exploring’ with his mouth but will at least now spit it out when requested!

We’re still exploring the area slowly, with a trip to Exmouth and it’s lovely sandy beach on Sunday and hope to replace our (now sold) van soon with a small run-a-round so that we can explore the area more fully – it seems that there are lots of awesome places we could go to that are 20-30 mins drive away but would take hours on public transport which is slightly frustrating!

Ideally, we’d like to buy a house rather than continue renting in Devon in the next few years but have a fairly specific idea (and therefore, harder to obtain!) of what we’d like; something rural or at least detached, on a decent sized plot so we could hopefully turn it off grid in terms of water and electricity, hopefully have some trees to provide firewood, grow a significant proportion of our fruit and veg and possibly keep some chickens and maybe a pig or goat further down the line. This is all very idealistic, I’m well aware of that, but I think it’s good to have dreams and who knows, we might be one of the few that actually realises them! It was these musings that led to the comparison of ‘The Good Life’ from my sister!

But I’m rambling now! I just wanted to check in, even though we don’t have much to report, to say we are well and plodding along, stopping to smell the flowers and fully enjoying life right now.

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I think we’re going to be happy here

This week brought the arrival of our friends Matt, Jo and girls from Brighton. Much squealing was heard on the part of the toddlers upon reuniting! We didn’t actually do masses but just enjoyed each others company, drunk far too much tea, watched marvel movies once the kids were in bed, explored the area, played shopkeepers (oh ok, that was the girls), met up with my Mum and sister in Totnes and of course, watched the kids race around the garden searching for hidden easter eggs. Jo and I even went for a few runs!

Ready to find those eggs!

Ready to find those eggs!

I wish I’d taken more photos but I always think it’s a sign of having a good time if you’re enjoying yourself too much to take pictures! On Easter Sunday (which was also Matt’s birthday) Gemma, Etti, her sister and their two gorgeous boys joined us for the afternoon and it felt just like old times chatting and hanging out together. Now that is the one photo op I really regret missing! C’est la vie!

Unfortunately the week wasn’t fully enjoyed by the menfolk as Matt had a lot of work to do and Dan was suffering with a heavy cold. By the time they left, we’d all come down with it and I had expected that we’d spend the remainder of Dan’s time off hibernating and trying to get better.

However, not to be outdone by my father ‘the old man’ (just kidding Dad!) who just the week before went to Snowdonia with my Mum and despite having flu, went walking each day(!) Dan was determined that we get out and enjoy a few days as a family in our new local surroundings. On Friday we spent a lot of time in the garden and then walked down to the local nurseries to buy some seeds (I think I have enough to fill the garden now but that’s another post!) and just managed to resist buying an orange tree. It was a gentle but incredibly enjoyable day.

Then today we got out relatively early, caught the Topsham ferry to the other side of the river and walked down along the canal to Turfs Locks where we fell in love with the most beautiful area to moor boats. We had to remind ourselves why we moved onto dry land! Probably due to the tranquil, sleepy  nature of the place, it was a varied place with some areas resembling a boat graveyard (including a 38ft wharram catamaran that seemed to be rotting away – very sad) but other boats well kept and we even met a gent preparing to sail his very small yacht down to the med.

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We had lunch at the pub there and spent a lovely few hours in their extensive canal/riverside ‘garden’ area with the kids running around and us soaking up the spring sunshine.

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Upon return we chilled out with a family movie and then went into the garden to plant our garlic and do some more weeding and watering.

It was just a lovely lovely day and I couldn’t help but think about how blessed we are to have this all on our doorstop and I think we are going to so happy living in this part of the world. The next step is to get a bike trailer for the kids and a bike for Dan and then we can go even further exploring without being hindered by little legs.

The last two days were full of daydreaming and talking about what to do next now we’re in Devon. Ideally we don’t want to keep renting as it is so expensive and financially is just like pouring water down the drain. But where and how to live? Buy a traditional house? In the city? A seaside village? Try and get some land and live in a yurt or flat pack house? Even go back to the boat living now we’ve found a cheap safe and sheltered place where we could moor? I doubt we’d do the latter but the possibilities are endless!

I’ve been reading ‘Off Grid’ by Nick Rosen and it’s been so interesting to read about how and why people live off grid in the UK (he is defining off grid as being off the mains electricity and water rather than the deeper philosophical meaning which I think is often used in the USA). I don’t really have any idea what decisions we might make but I’m excited by the unknown future ahead of us. Although I still miss our friends in Brighton I feel so at peace here and feel like we definitely made the right decision in moving here. Now we’ve just got to make sure that whatever we do next is marked by the same calm and definite feeling of ‘rightness’ that this initial move exuded. Exciting times indeed!

Topsham at low tide

Topsham at low tide