So the past 6 weeks have been slightly crazy – one of those times of life which is exciting, new and adventurous, but some days you ask yourself ‘what the hell are we doing!!!?’.
The off-grid dream: Living more self-sufficient, off the land, peaceful, secluded, kids playing free outside surrounded by nature is not always as we’d dreamt and as you can imagine can be really hard work some days. After all we are used to a world with so many conveniences.
The up’s and down’s have been challenging. We spent a few weeks between our old rental place and our new place, trying to tidy the old place and make it acceptable for the owners return, whilst also getting our new place liveable in. We bought a 2 bed stone cottage which doesn’t need much building work. It had only been used as a summer house before and had no electricity, no running water and no kitchen. So by liveable in I mean we made our bedrooms as nice as possible, painted them and bought beds etc, made the boys room really nice to help them settle in and bought some kitchen cupboards. Whilst all this was going on Garf was on crutches for 2 weeks from hurting his foot in a martial arts incident and we had our two spirited boys, who were also very unsettled, to entertain… AND the first heatwave hit which meant doing things between 11am and 6pm is extremely difficult. Definitely wasn’t one of the easiest house moves I have done!
The challenges of still not speaking much of the language, quickly having to learn all about clearing our massively overgrown land to keep it safe for wild fires (after the biggest wild fire in Portugal hit and many people were killed for the first time in years – scared us all here in Central Portugal!), moving somewhere with no electricity and running water and a very bumpy and overgrown track ( we popped 4 tires in 3 weeks!) and the heatwave up to almost 40 degrees certainly added to the whole experience!
Luckily we have such a beautiful supportive community around us. We had help with childcare and also connected with another family who had just moved here and were, at the time, struggling to adapt to their new life too. They kindly came to the rescue one day when I popped the second tire (the spare tire was already on) and was stuck on our track in the middle of nowhere with only the boys as Garf was out. Just spending time with new people, eating lunch together and helping eachother with jobs on our Quinta’s massively helps 🙂 People have also offered us to use their washing machines, lent us hoovers and steamers, offered for me to go and use their electricity to do my work (as I was having to drive to the hotel or library a lot to keep my design biz going) and offered support when we have been at breaking point and we are so unbelievably grateful for this – it’s what has got us through!
Things are slowly getting settled now and I am glad to say we are out the other side of that crazy crazy period! We’ve now had our solar system installed (V Exciting!) and got a fridge-freezer again, which feels like a total luxury after about 1 month and a heatwave without one. We are still without running water but the mission this week is to get the things we need to hook up our well to a pump, which will pump water into a tank on top of the rocks next to our house and it will be gravity fed down into the house. At the moment for water we fill bottles from the local font for drinking water every few days, fill a big tub of well water up to wash ourselves, wash up, flush the toilet and to have next to the bed each night to dip towels in to cool us all down. It’s also essential to go swimming a few times a week so shower, wash and cool down! We also had my mum staying recently ( which was a god send in many ways – thanks mum!) in a holiday cabin nearby so she let us use her shower, then last week we house and animal sitted for our friends in the village so used their shower for washes too. We have also sorted our track now too and it’s not too bad – no more popped tires yet anyway!
It’s certainly been an adventure though. We knew it would be tough after meeting lots of other people who came before us, but maybe not as much and it’s been a steep learning curve and made us realise that we are more resilient than we maybe thought.
I have been struggling with my parenting throughout the process. The boys were getting a bit wild, but not in a good way and we both felt like a bit of a failure and like our ‘gentle parenting’ approach just wasn’t working, but now I think it was just we didn’t make enough time for connection. Now we are getting settled though, I realise it was just a difficult time for us all, not just the recent months but the past 6 months moving to another country, not knowing if we were staying or going, looking at houses all the time. But now we are settled in our new home, which I have dreamt about for so long, we are able to make a stable home and establish some routine, boundaries and start eating healthy again, with the bonus of having our own land where we can make our dreams happen! Things may be tough some days but more and more I find myself capturing moments of our day: watching the boys looking at the billions of ants around or playing with our pets outside, sitting around eating meals outside while our little lizard friends scurry past, picking fruit from our trees for breakfast, seeing the boys learning from the many jobs to do and work happening on the quinta, playing on their bikes up and down the lane until late into the evening, all of us meeting up with friends, sharing food or enjoying time swimming in lakes, rivers or nearby pools, attending local organic markets, getting to know the locals and learn the language and customs – these moments are becoming more and more frequent and making me realise that there is something really special going on here. To us as a family but also the wider community, I feel this area is attracting some really interesting, kind and forward thinking people and although I also really really miss my friends and family and The lake District I feel this could be our home for a while 🙂
Some new friends came round the other day and brought peach tree as a house warming present, which was amazing! We chatted and they made me realise that there are hard times in family life, but it’s ok for children to realise this too and now hopefully they will see the benefits of why we did what we did and why we were stressed, tired, busy and grumpy sometimes for a while. Our motives for being here are for the boys, to show them there is a different way of life, that they can live surrounded by and in tune with nature, that they can live with less (if they want to), that they can be free of big corporations and the consumerist world and most of all that they can follow their heart, take risks do what they dream of doing and be happy. Maybe they won’t want to live like us when they grow up – maybe they will want to live in the middle of a city, work in an office full time and buy lots of things they don’t really need but at least that will be their choice and they will know there is another way if they choose it and feel trapped in that society.
And like us, if it doesn’t work out and we go back to the UK and our old life (which was actually as great in many ways) then we’ve done it, we’ve tried it and we’ve lost nothing.
But for now I personally feel more settled here then I have for a long time. My ‘wanderer’ spirit has settled down a bit and I feel I can really finally settle into being a mum that is present and grounded and get my boys on the right track and settled into their new home and country. Then together we can dream about all the things we’d like to do with our land over the next few years – so many possibilities – we are already thinking a family campsite, natural play area, natural pool, massive veg patch, chickens, some sort of eco house accommodation and family retreats/ experiences – watch this space!!!
To follow our adventures in more details you can do so in Instagram – link below!
CHECK OUT OUR NEW FAMILY HAMMOCKS!
We are excited to have started selling fab Hamaca Hammocks for all the family. We have a travel, family and kids version for sale on the website now. Made from ethical fabric and produced by another worldschooling family. We can't wait to recieve ours for our new place!