latest news: EL POCITO is FOR SALE! (read more, further down)
Hi, and welcome to a site about simple living, or how to be more self-sufficient, based on years of practical experience. Stuff like: how to believe in yourself (not get sucked into the allure of quick-fix faiths and isms)/ avoid the need for a huge income or job / take back the responsibility for your own health/ make & grow as much for yourself as possible / and above all do it in a way which puts the planet first, by acting sustainably.
What this site isn’t about, is any kind of manifesto. Either for others to follow, or feel they have to comment upon, so please remember that. Nor am I claiming to be an expert on anything, this is just stuff I’ve picked up along the way and thought others would find useful. It’s often be a hard and lonely road living like this, especially when you are going against convention, so sometimes it is good to know there are others out there doing the same thing.
Until October 2013, we were Maureen and Phil Rooksby. Originally from South London, and where in the mid 1970s we started out in life as freshly-minted art teachers. A choice based on disappointing exam results and the shared fear that otherwise we’d have to spend the rest of our lives in low-paid/ boring jobs. We also secretly hoped this would provide the opportunity to satisfy our developing creative appetites. Neither proved to be the case, but it did pave the way into another kind of career, one we had previously never known existed, and which was a lot more exciting and rewarding. The alternative world of community arts. Taking us from London to Milton Keynes (during its formative years), then to NorthYorkshire. In 1991, while Maureen was busy setting Leeds on fire at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, I then started to put some ideas together based around making our home and one acre garden more self-sufficient. Nine years later not only had it taken root but we both decided we’d like to take it to the next level. Sold up, bought a second-hand van to live in, and began what turned out to be an epic odyssey, nine long years, searching for the one place perfect enough to have everything we ever 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. Also we wanted to be where there was at least one metre of rainfall per year, in order to be able to capture and store as much as that for non-drinking purposes.
– 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/ but probably most important of all right now (with the imminent melting of both polar ice-caps and a subsequent 50m rise in sea-level), there’s absolutely no risk from flooding or tsunamis.
– 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 got sick, then she was suddenly gone. But her vision for a more sustainable/ simpler/ healthier/ and creative life continued, and on the following pages you can see/ read all about that. Also included are some of the many influences/ ideas we came across over the years. I hope you enjoy dipping into them. Please feel free to ask questions, I am always happy to help in any way I can.
Maureen dying was a terrible blow, we had been together for 35 years. It has taken up ’til now to begin to find my way again. That has been thanks mainly to finding a new partner. Pauline (who actually found me). And with whom we have decided to make a fresh start (for both of us), somewhere new. Though of course along all the same lines. Where? At the moment we are thinking of exploring the mountains of the French Pyrenees, but if you have any better ideas, especially where there are like-minded people for neighbours (aged 50+) please let me know.
For those interested in living here it would suit both an energetic couple or small community (say of up to six people). Read the following pages, then send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the price and with any questions.
Please note I do not have internet accesss (by choice), so please be patient for the reply.
Thanks also to Nacho Suárez Obel who provided many of the photos for this site.
some thoughts to ponder…
“To be free (as it is possible to be) you first have to escape the gravitational force of con-vention, that insidious pressure of con-suming created by those who rule over us to enslave and conform. Once you have overcome the great cons of our current epoch, and are well clear of its influence, then the entire universe will open out for you to explore.”
“It may seem wrong to ignore the sum of our collective knowledge, but land left alone, from human interference/ culture, will (given time) become infinitely more diverse and sustainable than any treatment we have or could ever devise. If in doubt always do nothing.”
“There are only two solutions which will save us from imminent extinction.
1) An immediate global ban on all further births, until such time the total population is reduced to a sustainable level again (more on what that means in a moment).
2) A similar ban on the use of money, but permanently.
And the reasons? Because this is the only way we can save the planet (and by implication, ourselves). That unique self-governing eco-system, composed of an ever-expanding number of interdependent species, created in such a way, so infinitesimally complex, that even all our collective brain-power and computer-resources could never even begin to guess how it functions. The sole provider of all the necessities we take for granted. From oxygen we need to breathe, water, food, fuel, in fact everything. Such an infinitely complex mechanism, that for us to tinker with any part of it is to court disaster. Which of course is exactly what we have been doing, for the last 10,000 years.
Yet before that we were actually a positive and integral part of this wonderful creation. For three million years, 98% of our existence. We did this by acting sustainably. Which meant keeping our numbers to a pre-determined level (around 5 million), and not taking anything out of nature (be it species or materials) that could not be replaced with exactly the same. Then for some reason, 10,000 years ago, we decided to opt out of that. At first it didn’t seem to matter, but our destruction was exponential, each new day it was worse, until now a single minute creates more damage than a thousand years at the beginning. And there is so little left of the eco-system it is on the point of implosion. We are all about to die. Today, tomorrow, next week, next year. Nobody knows when exactly. But this is certain, it will happen soon. Children born today will not live to become adults.
Sustainability is not rocket science. If we want a future we have to stop taking out, stop using money, stop multiplying.
Which leaves just the one question, are you prepared to do that?
“…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 …”