Reading List

I emailed a friend this week to tell her about our plans. We met her when she used to look after D and S a couple of days a week when they were tiny and I was out at work. I wasn’t sure what her reaction would be to the news really but it was positive, supportive and 100% unsurprised.
Most people we have told have taken the news in their stride with several describing it is ‘inevitable’, knowing us as well as they do.
I spent some time at a childrens’ birthday party held in a soft play centre yesterday, with a group of other Home Educating friends and one of them was saying how in her Home Ed circle of friends she feels very conventional and normal, it’s only when she steps outside of that group and into other circles that she realises how very different her life is to most other peoples! I feel a bit the same, I forget that many of our family’s life choices totally buck the trend or the norm and it’s only when I look back along the path we’ve trodden that I realise how each slightly off the wall decision has taken us further along the path of non conformity and doing things our own way.
I intend posting about Home Education properly and just how I envisage it working while we’re off for our year but the main purpose of this post was to talk about some of the books I have read in the last few years that have guided me towards what now seems to have been a rather inevitable decision to head off on our adventure. My favourite way of finding out about something is always to talk about it. I love talking, I love finding out about people, asking nosey questions and understanding what makes people tick. I think learning something from someone who knows about it is the very best way to gain a new skill. But it’s not always feasible and the next best way in my opinion is to read about it. Blogs, books, magazines, however you like but a well written piece is as close to sitting listening to someone as you can get without them being in the room.
Several of the books I have read over recent years have set us on the road to our adventure next year, I can’t say they are on my bookshelf as I have borrowed them from the library (cheaper and more eco-friendly) but however you read your books I’d recommend these ones as worth looking at.

is a great book. Follow Kath on her drunken self inflicted challenge of living on just 100pence a day for a whole year. Kath meets all her basic needs and more at bargain prices and shows just how little money we *really* need.

The Strawbridge family may already be familiar to you from the TV show of the same name as the book – also worth watching. There is a website and forum for even more ‘Not easy being green’ goodness if you are so inclined and inspired.

Scenes from a smallholiding (and indeed the followup book) were one of my very early reads when thinking about a change of lifestyle. Chas and his family including in-laws set off to live on a smallholding and this collection of articles, essays and autobigraphical accounts of the various challenges, victories and steep learning curves gave me ideas and inspiration aswell as a real insight into what it might be like living that lifestyle.

is easily one of the most thought -provoking books I’ve read and one I have recommended to various people. The story of how a NY self-confessed ‘eco-worrier’ had a go at a zero impact lifestyle going from takeaways infront of the TV and regular air travel to a cycling, off-grid, no packaging, no waste comparison and all of the challenges along the way.

I confess to not having quite finished reading this myself yet, I am about halfway in but already know it is another book that stays with you after you have finished it. Powerful lessons to be learnt alongside Fred as he travels to find out where the gold in his wedding ring was mined, just what ‘fair trade’ means on his coffee packet from the growers themselves, questions whether buying local is actually any better when those local strawberries have been picked by poorly paid foreigners living in crappy conditions and educates us about bananas into the bargain!

We are all huge fans of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and watching the River Cottage series of shows and using the accompanying cook books has been a real inspiration to us and certainly set us well along the path to growing our own veg, rearing our own animals and generally becoming more aware of where our food comes from and striving towards producing as much of our own as possible. It’s hard to choose a favourite River Cottage book to link to but I have gone with the Family Cookbook as D, S and I have spent some time recently working through it step by step. We’ve baked our own bread, created our own sourdough starter, made all sorts of flour and dairy products, gone to work on eggs and much more. Forget Delia, for me this is the ultimate bible of food and guidebook to your kitchen.

A real highlight of this year for us was a visit to River Cottage back in the summer and one of the few things we’ll be sure to make room for in our van is the River Cottage diary which some very dear friends presented us with a signed copy of after their own visit to River Cottage. We’re thrilled to know that Hugh has given us his blessing 🙂

Another of our heroes is Ray Mears. We love his tv shows and have borrowed them many times from the library, particularly watching the dvd extras over and over again trying to learn how to make nettle cordage, whittle useful things and chop wood, sharpen knives and learn other survival skills. Again, tough to pick an item to link to really but this book is on my very short list of books I intend actually bringing along on adventure with us.

This is on my wishlist rather than recommended. We are on a very strict budget next year on our adventure and hoping to spend very little on food. In theory WOOFing means in exchange for working you get food from hosts but we are hoping to supplement that with some wild food gathering. A is keen to do some rabbit trapping, pigeon shooting and fishing and learning about what else is out there for the taking would be a great skill to master, particularly in hungry times :).

This little gem is among the Collins pocket sized books we already own and will definitely be coming with us.

I’m sure I’ll be back with more in the coming weeks but this is a good start.

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