I wanted to write a bit about how our lives have changed in the past few months since living off-grid on our quinta, as being back in the UK for a few weeks has highlighted to me how we live very differently now.
Being off-grid and quite rural you need to quickly learn to become more resourceful than you have ever been. We, like many others that have recently moved to the area where we live, are trying to live with less and be more self reliant. Less money, less belongings and less s**t in our lives! More focus on family time and enjoying others company, living in accordance with nature and embracing what we love to do. Since moving into our new place we have (whether we liked it or not) had to embrace this lifestyle, but it has been so much easier having the community we have around us as there are many initiatives, workshops and just general support happening between like-minded people.
Not so long ago a good friend of mine ran a fermented foods workshop with a popular fermenting expert Dearblha Renolds, from Ireland and since then we have carried on with a group meet up of ‘the fermentalists’. We meet up and share our fermented foods, making new recipes together with our own home grown produce and as we live rurally, the Facebook messenger group is a never ending conversation of new food experiments and giggles. The last meet up we made fermented apple relish and fermented lime pickle, followed by a shared lunch together and lots of laughs while the kids either joined in or played.
We have also joined a local new co-op which we are really enjoying. The co-op meets up fortnightly at someones quinta for a meeting and a shared meal. We also started co-op work days a few weeks ago, the first being at our place where everyone helped us dig some of our veggie beds and the second was to help some people chop and stack their firewood for the winter. There is such a lovely thing about working in a team to get the most mundane jobs done together and quickly, while chatting and sharing knowledge. The boys love being part of it and helping everyone with the work that is going on and I love watching them learning in this way and forming relationships with some really interesting people. The group is so varied and interesting with people from all over the world, but with a shared interest of going back to the land and helping one another out.
At the meet ups we also take produce we have grown or made to sell or swap (the latter being preferred). We are also sending two members of the co-op on a local mediteranean food forest course so they can then feed it all back to us and share what they have learned. I love that we have found these like-minded people to help one another to live our dreams on our quintas as it can be hard work by yourselves!
Recently we have decided to have the kids learning at home full time, with our new project underway and plans to travel a bit and I have found a great online resource called Global Guardian Project. Jude and I have been learning about going Litterless through this program and although we are discovering it’s very hard to do, Jude reminds me not to buy plastic bottles or packaging too much or if we can avoid it. It has also given us the motivation to get growing our own veg and so recently we have planted so much and are eagerly awaiting to see what seeds might have popped up in the weeks we have had away in the UK. We have some great house sitters (The Topsy Turvy Tribe) looking after our place, animals and watering our veg whilst we are away so I am sue they will all do great with their amazing knowledge 🙂
After arriving in Portugal, with both Garf and I pretty rubbish at actually doing any sort of DIY, we are becoming better and better at getting things done for ourselves. Garf has figured out how to connect the water from the well to the house via an IBC tank and we are getting good at recycling bits and turning them into things we can use. Like making a bathroom shelf out of an old drawer (we definitely have You Tube and Pinterest to thank!).
Although being back in the UK has been quite a luxury experience – hot running water, baths, lots of yummy convenience food and takeaways if we wish and seeing family and friends has been really lovely, it has also helped me to reflect on our new life and how far we have come. It’s has made me really appreciate that we are carving a new life for our kids where they are more aware of where things like food, power and water come from and that if they wish they can rely on themselves to provide these a bit more. This is something that I did not know about as a child, even though we lived in a rural village, as people just didn’t consider it as much then. Also it’s great for the kids to know that if they have a supportive community around them they can achieve so much without relying too much on money or being sucked into consumerism. This was something I did have around me living in a village in The Lake Distrct as a small child and it’s something that isn’t around in the UK as much now, although more so in some areas, I still feel so blessed to have the community that we do around us as it makes being away from home so much easier.
With all these exciting new developments over the summer and into Autumn we are really looking forward to going home to our place in Portugal and get our project going, the first event being on 12th November! It’s funny we have all had times of really missing home in The Lakes and now being back are all really enjoying it but looking forward to getting back, carrying on our adventure and really putting roots down at Brejo De Serra. We have been filling up with memories and time spent in the UK and now feel it’s time we can move forward and settle in our new life knowing that whenever we come back we will be warmly welcomed by everyone here and comforted by the beautiful scenery around Ambleside and Keswick where we also call home 🙂