Hi, and welcome to a site about simple living, how to be self-sufficient and at the same time do it sustainably, based on years of practical experience. Stuff like – how to follow your own ideas (as opposed to buying into faiths/ isms)/ not needing a full-time job/ taking back the responsibility for your own health/ making & growing everything / and above all doing it all in a way which puts the planet first.
What this definitely is not, is any kind of manifesto, either for others to follow or feel they have to comment on, so please bear this in mind when reading. Nor is any of it expert advice. Just stuff I thought would be useful, because treading this path can be hard and lonely one, you are striking out against all the current conventions, so sometimes you need all the help you can get.
Until October 2013, we were Maureen and Phil Rooksby. Both from South London, growing up there, going to college in Bromley, where we met training to be art teachers. But it didn’t take us long to realise we didn’t want to stay there or get stuck in that kind of life, so looked for something more inspiring. That led to the lovely village of Stony Stratford, in Milton Keynes (during the city’s formative years), working in community arts. Followed by the wilds of North Yorkshire (which is where we first got inspired by the idea of self-sufficiency), where Maureen set Leeds alight at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Then in 2000 we left all that behind and setting off in a second-hand van begun what turned out to be a nine year journey to find the one place perfect enough to have the life we really wanted.
That last period is best left to Maureen to describe, in her book: TREAD SOFTLY BECAUSE YOU TREAD ON MY DREAMS. Available free (as a download) simply by clicking here.
During that time we explored NW Spain/ Portugal/ an island in British Columbia (Canada)/ before finally ending up in SW Spain, where we found El Pocito in 2009, the one and only place that seemed to fit most of our criteria:
– somewhere we would be able to live without debt. No mortgage/ rent/ utility bills/ or any other charge on our time, and with all the natural resources not only to build a home, but provide our food/ fuel/ other building materials/ electricity/ medicine/ plus earn cash when necessary.
– our own water supply. Originally we wanted it to be nothing less than a spring, but they proved so hard to find we eventually settled on a borehole instead, where the water is as natural/ unpolluted/ and plentiful as possible.
– high up. At +/- 600 metres. This is because the further you go the less extreme the climate becomes (all-year-round)/ humidity is lower/ pollution less/ and right now, probably most important of all, there’s absolutely no risk from rising sea-levels.
– south-facing. Having tried all the other options this is undoubtedly the best. For crops/ minimising frost damage/ solar & wind power/ as well as being a lot warmer and lighter indoors.
– with a soil that is as sandy as possible. All the others just make the job a lot harder.
– where neighbours are as far away as possible. Which is not as easy as it sounds, for even with 2.5 hectares that’s still at best only 200 metres, unless like here you are surrounded by nothing but trees.
– proximity to a local town was crucial as well, it had to be no further away than an easy walk/ cycle. And small, +/- 500 people. Almonaster la Real is perfect. While at the same time as far away as possible from any cities (Sevilla, the nearest, is 120 km).
– well away from all roads and any other hazards to healthiness.
– a climate where we can grow the widest range of crops all-year-round.
– where we could have the perfect house, the most practical/ healthy/ and inspirational living space possible.
Sadly, in 2013, Maureen died. Her vision for a sustainable/ simpler/ healthier/ and more creative life continues though, and on the following pages you can see/ read how that is coming along. Also included are some of the many influences/ ideas we came across over the years. I hope you enjoy dipping into them all. Please feel free to make contact, I am always happy to answer questions/ help in any way.
Meanwhile I would very much like to hear from anyone who would be willing to come and share this with me. A similarly un-plugged person, who prefers living simply in nature to being connected 24/7 to the crazy conventional world that is killing us all. Ideally someone creative like me, for example a STEPHANIE from the lovely film THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP, 45+. And together we can plan a new adventure together, which I hope will take everything we’ve learnt so far and use it to make an even better place, this time in the forested hillsides of the French Pyrenees.
Look forward to hearing from you, or even better why not simply turn up.
Many thanks in anticipation.
Thanks also to Nacho Suárez Obel who provided many of the photos for this site.
“…each world has a song that is begun with the first life on a world, a song that sounds within the world to foster life and variation. All living creatures are a part of the song which shall be sung forever, until the last star goes out… sometimes living creatures do not wish to be part of the song, they do not hear it, they rise up against it, they cry that they are larger than the song and more important than the music, and when their words drown out the song, then the world begins to die…”
(Sheri S Tepper)
“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear”
(Jerome K Jerome)
“There is only one cause for the ills of this world, and that is money. The purest souls among us are those who have none, for they spend nothing and harm nothing. It is an oxymoron to claim to be righteous, walk lightly on the earth AND have money.”
“The longing for Nature, strong, silent and healthy, is the vital phenomenon of our time, and is the counterbalance to an inorganic civilisation, which we mistakenly describe as culture.”
“…by making the choice, not to have or do what everyone else considers right, you not only no longer have bills to pay but can experience that unique freedom of being able to live your own life …”