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.
– 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 got sick then she was gone. Her vision for a sustainable/ simpler/ healthier/ and more creative life still 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. Please feel free to ask questions, I am always happy to help in any way I can.
Maureen dying was a terrible blow. We’d been together for 35 years. It has taken me this long to find my way again. Now though I am raring to get back to the adventure, albeit in a new place, with a new partner. Yet following the same path, this time with the benefit of hindsight and lots more experience, including building the perfect sustainable home. Where? At the moment the best place feels like up in the mountains of the French Pyrenees.
First task though is to find the right partner, so we can do this together. A woman (45+), who has experienced living simply/ full of energy and ideas/ unflappable/ creative/ prefers the tranquillity of nature to urbanity/ and either speaks French or is keen to learn.
If you are such a person I look forward to hearing from you. Or if you know of a friend who might be interested, or site where this message can be posted please let me know or pass it on. Phil xx
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 …”