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Still in the commercial break

The silence here is very indicative of how we’re feeling. We’ve been mostly staying with my parents, punctuated with shorter stays with various other family and friends. It’s lovely to catch up with people, to sit on sofas, have baths, cook in kitchens, sleep in beds, have access to all our belongings (although remember we did declutter to a fairly extreme degree this time last year so ‘all our belongings’ is still a fairly small heap!), plug things in whenever we feel like it, be able to ‘pop’ to the supermarket open all hours across the road.

But it’s also fairly stifling. There I said it!

We find the constant hum of traffic noisy, smelly, distracting and disturbing. The constant drone of the television with it’s endless rounds of repeats and rubbish and adverts bleak and depressing. The waste of time and money and food caused by that very supermarket punting out cheap food at all hours which is supposed to free people of time and money.

I am not sitting in judgement of the way our family and friends live their lives. For the first 30 odd years (for me, 40 odd for Ady) we lived ours just the same and we felt fulfilled and happy almost all of the time. But now the four of us are hankering after those days we spent this year engaged in collecting and chopping firewood, sowing, harvesting or preserving foods, baking bread, fishing for our tea, looking out of our window and seeing the sun rise and set, or the rain tip from the sky and our beautiful world going by.

In lots of ways although we are finding elements of this period a challenge that reassures us that our future plans are right. That we won’t be missing these aspects of our old life once we don’t have access to them any more. That the simpler lifestyle we spent so much of this year living and enjoying is indeed the right one for us. Hand on heart we can all say that we didn’t hanker after Sussex or central heating, or 24 hour Tescos or pre-packaged pasta sauce or indeed any of the things we are kissing goodbye to when we embark on the next step of our journey. It’s been a good test to have access to all these things again just to see how we felt about them.

We visited Willow on Christmas Eve, just a fleeting pop in to collect something we’d left in one of the cupboards. It felt like a real wrench to lock the door and drive away from her again though. As lovely as spending time with family is I think all four of us would have been very happy to wake up in Willow on Christmas morning and have a go at cooking a turkey in our little oven.

So as 2011 draws to a close we are able to know for sure that we have had an amazing adventure this year and are more than ready to set off on the next one, knowing for certain that we simply don’t belong here any more.

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Part Two

Sorry for the silence. It’s been a constant round of catching up with family and friends, doing festive stuff and also putting the first touches to our What Happens Next plans. I’ll talk about that a bit more once we actually know whether our hopes are to be realised as for now that is out…
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Interlude

Feel free to play your own hold music!

We’re currently staying mostly at my parents house back in Sussex. I say mostly because although we’ve been back in Sussex for a couple of weeks we have had various overnight stays with other family and friends scattered around and this coming week we’re off again for 10 days.

It’s lovely to catch up with family and friends properly, to take some time to look back at photos of our adventure and start to turn some of the stories of our adventures into memories and anecdotes, looking back fondly on even the challenging bits. It’s nice to have electricity at the flick of a switch, hot water whenever we want it, access to a washing machine, a bath, our own bed and most of our possessions which have been stored here for us.

It’s also incredibly stifling and in many ways far more challenging than WWOOFing, staying with hosts or living in a campervan. Which is no reflection on my parents or indeed where they live, but a very telling indicator of how much we have changed. It was a concern of ours that once we returned to a ‘normal’ setting we would not want to leave it again, that the things we were so adamant we had not missed would infact remind us of how wonderful they were and make us feel we’d never want to leave again.

Instead we are reminded daily of how much freer and happier we felt during this year. How much we loved the lack of traffic and people and bustle. How the convenience of a supermarket does not make up for the fact trees were chopped down to build the carpark. That the downside of a sofa and a TV is feeling unfit and unhealthy slumped on one infront of the other. All four of us are missing the lifestyle we led this year and are enjoying this period as a brief reminder of what we left behind and why it’s just not right for us any more.

It feels rather strange not to be working in some capacity – either as paid employees or as WWOOFers but we have certainly been busy. We had so many things to catch up on: Doctors, dentists, opticians, blood donor appointments all round for routine medical maintenance. We had to empty out Willow, give her a really good clean, declare her SORN and leave her put to bed for now, resting on a friend’s land until such time as she is called back into service again. We bought my car back out of retirement and had to do the reverse exercise with that; Tax, insurance, MOT, bit of mechanical attention from the time off road and get used to driving something smaller and with gears again. We had various financial things to put in order and paperwork to file. Finally we have given our tenants their two month notice and had an estate agent visit the house to value it and begin the proceedings for putting it on the market.

It’s a strange sort of limbo period, not helped by it being so close to Christmas which is always chaotic and frantic for everyone anyway. For us, it is a time of biding our time, finalising our plans for what happens next and working on a new set of dreams and hopes and ideas. All very exciting and hopefully soon to be shared on here but for now, maybe listen to a bit of festive music while we’re on hold.