The Big Summer Plan!

My Big Green Summer.

I had decided on this plan sometime ago, but my time here in the UK has made me more determined than ever to go ahead with it.

My partner will be heading home to the Philippines for six weeks this summer. I had decided to take two weeks off during that time, as we won’t be able to find time for a holiday together until Christmas at the earliest.

Wanting to save money during my holiday rather than spend more, especially as my time-off is unpaid, I will stay home and set myself a challenge.

So, for the whole of July I will avoid using any electricity. That means the first fortnight literally using none, but I will need to charge and power my laptop and the modem (only) for work in the second-half of the month.

I will fetch water from the local fountain for watering the plants and also for my showers. Which I will take on the terrace, using the sun to heat a bag of water – much like a camping shower.

I will hopefully have a good crop by then and will in the coming months preserve food we grow and from the market. The only thing I will spend on is my drinking water and will try stock up on dry ingredients like oats and rice and possibly stuff for baking bread.

However, I will have to cook all my food on the wood burning stove or eat it fresh. Additionally, I will try going vegetarian during this time. Excluding the eggs, I guess I’ll be vegan. We’ve already unplugged the fridge-freezer, so preserving is going to become essential in future. And what with only eating local we’ll need to stock-up for winter too. So this should be good practice.

That also means using only candle light once more, reading or playing tabletop games for entertainment during daylight hours plus going for long walks and hopefully some foraging. Cooling the house will not be an option, aside from opening windows and hoping for a cool breeze.

Who knows, all being well this could easily become a permanent/long-term switch. Heating in the deepest of winter would still be an issue and keeping my partner off of games consoles another. Well, let’s not worry about that for now.

I am very excited and eager to try going back to basics as much as possible. :-D

The N-Word

Let’s talk about the N-word.

Or should that be the n-words. Nude. Naked. Naturist. Nudism. Naturism. Nudist. (in the) Nuddy.

I think I was born inclined towards nudity, then again aren’t we all?

Maybe then it would be more correct to say that it was never really “educated” out of me. I would increasingly grow to hate clothing and would wear as few, loose items as possible whenever possible.

Getting nude in the local forest and during an entire month each year when looking after my grandparent’s home (when they went away) were sanity patches for me.

When I left the UK, getting nude became more difficult and even potentially dangerous.
So I tried to forget about it, but my clothed frustrations along with stress at work and lack of natural places to visit left me in a very bad place.

A change of jobs and locations allowed me access to nature but it wouldn’t be until arriving in East Java, Indonesia that I would fully be free to be nude and rediscover the joys of it in a very spiritual way.

Jolotundo Temple was a surprise for me. Knowing I was staying at an eco-centre with a planned trip to a local temple was as much as I knew. To then discover it was a bathing temple where the old religious ways of nude bathing had survived, was a huge surprise in a strictly anti-nude muslim nation.

The thing is, all manner of men would bathe nude there. Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, whatever. I can’t say if the same liberations were true for the women, being sent to a second-separate baths at the other end of the temple.

When I first arrived I felt nervous, but was reassured by my guide, and so I took the plunge and was immediately set free from my own self-imposed body consciousness, from the stress of a difficult few years and from years of being forced to wrap up.

I was a fully fledged nudey once more.

I spent many trips, times and hours at the temple and got to meet a lot of interesting people. Hanging out on the jungled slopes of a mountain without much care or concern about not having any clothes on. I would even hike nude, to which the local farmers only commented ‘it’s normal’.

Well, I would not let modern society shame me anymore. I would seek out opportunities to do the most natural thing wherever I went. I made lots of new friends both local and global and felt the most peace I’d ever known.

I’ve not so much forgotten that, but threats about losing a job and petty minded people meant I have taken a break. That break has gone on far too long, sadly I cannot now recover the many photos, videos and articles I published about naturism or nudism.

But, I do not like regrets. I know my blog helped many people and still remember their thanks and comments. I do not intend to get so involved in the political and social arguments of naturism/nudism this time. Yet, I will also not hide the fact that I enjoy being nude. This time I will just do, and hope that my doing is enough to spread the word that nudity is neither shameful nor sexual.

Screenshot 2017-04-13 at 06.49.35

A photo of me (first on the blog). Sadly, I’ve lost the original and copied this from our TrueNudists profile. The same picture was included in one of BOP Naturist’s newsletters, along with my review of the nude beach resort we stayed on in Thailand, which sadly seems to have closed.

 

So what next?

With the warmer weather and a desire to remember and re-embrace meditation and naturism, and also to improve my personal body image and acceptance. I have decided to create a partly sheltered spot on our terrace.

Somewhere to have a shower, sunbathe and chill in my birthday suit. This isn’t going to be some impenetrable wall or screen, more of a symbolic attempt to send a message to the neighbours. Something along the lines of ‘Don’t look and if you do, don’t complain!’.

The Grim & The Good

I’m about 10 minutes into Peter and the Farm, what I thought would be a nice chilled morning viewing. A rare treat for me to watch some telly. And well, I’m horrified!

If my commitment to vegetarianism was at risk of wavering, it’s now firmly glued into place…

As I’m writing this the farmer is now discussing seeds, so I’ll stick with it. Not exactly a quick end for that poor sheep. This farmer follows organic methods, but not apparently the idealised (or humane?) view of them.

Still, I’m not one to judge. I’ve been out spending money this week. My brother and sister-in-law are coming to visit and I wanted to show that we’re not turning into hippies.

My family aren’t critical or judgemental, yet I was concerned about word getting back to mum of us living in ‘poverty’. Second-hand news is the one second-hand thing I like to avoid. When she and dad come out later this year, I can show them how things really are.

I am trying to balance things a little, and not jump in the deep-end of consumerism.

I got some scented candles, vegetable based, from a local shop that has been making candles for 100 years or more. I ‘m looking to buy a sofa too, i’s one of the cheaper ones I’ve seen and fits our current views and goals perfectly.Well, excluding the 400€ price tag.

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It’s made from old mattresses. The man selling it, along with many other upcycled items, assured me it has been thoroughly steam cleaned. Something I hadn’t even thought about. The little shop has a nice collection of things; typewriter-lamps, suitcase-chairs, clock-tables and much more.

Better yet, is that the items are made by people with learning difficulties and mental disabilities. And even better is that the sale of the items will provide a salary for the workers. This is the kind of buying we should all aim for. When our money helps to empower others and with as little harm to the environment as possible.
The blogspot is fildeferro.

We’ve been buying ‘luxury’ foods too, some cheeses and wines but we’ve be sticking with the five rules I explained in The Big Update.

I’ve also sacrificed some planting space for flowers, tired of bare earth and wanting to feel inspired to get back out into the garden more. I may regret this, if diseases and bugs become a problem. For now though, they have helped keep me busy outside and still leave plenty of space for early season crop-plants.

One last plant, was a heart-shaped cactus. A little gift for my hubby as a thanks for his understanding and willingness to live the way I want. I couldn’t resist a new pot for it either, made from ceramic but designed to look like a crumpled/discarded paper cup.

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That for me has such a significant meaning, a message so powerful. We throwaway so much without care or consideration for the energy needed to make it and what will happen to it next.

 

And finally, a few pics of my new compost bin. :D

The Big Update!

It has been six months since starting this blog, and now feels like the ideal time to give you all an update and help remind myself of what we’ve already achieved and what we want to work towards in the months and years ahead.

It’s also time again to spend a little more, in hope of saving a lot later. I’m also really keen to lessen our impact on the planet some more and in the process become a smidgen more self-sufficient.

Food, Shopping & Waste .

I am working more hours than I’d like, to pay off our little loan. However, we have found ourselves with a few extra pennies each week. Rather than continue to cut our food budget to the absolute minimum, we have decided to take responsibility and have set ourselves a few guidelines for the food we will buy in future.

Our food should meet as many of the following points as possible:

  • be organic
  • be vegetarian (but we’re still eating eggs)
  • be fair-trade
  • be as locally produced as we can find
  • have minimal packaging, especially plastics

There’s one exception to buying local, as I’m not aware of any coffee plantations in Spain.

Giving up caffeine is something I’ll work towards, but not before my hours drop back down. It’s also a bit too cold for us to grow olives here, something that has become a favourite snack of ours.

Organic, fair-trade and local produce tend to be a little pricier than normal products found in supermarkets, but we’ll also be supporting local businesses, small shops, and also local producers when buying fresh stuff in the bi-weekly farmer’s market. Which seems like a good compromise.

We’ve already come to accept that going totally moneyless is not a reality for us, not just yet. We will of course continue to reduce our need for money as much as we can.

And of course, we’re hopeful that the majority of our vegetables and some of our fruit will be home-grown… eventually.

Also, we hope to reduce our weekly waste. Something that has already happened without much thought. 80-90% of our weekly rubbish is recyclable and another 5-10% is organic.

After last summer’s worm massacre, we’ve yet to set up a real composting system. This is something else we will address. Having today spent some money on a decent compost bin, both one for the kitchen and one for the terrace.

I’m hoping to get all those rubbish numbers as close to 0% as I can. Composting kitchen waste and using reusable bags not just for carrying our groceries but for rice, oats and anything else I can find bought from larger sacks. Thankfully most of the organic shops have options for buying these plus nuts, quinoa, couscous and more in this manner.

So, we’ll try to make some sacks of our own to avoid using the plastic (supposedly biodegradable) from the shops loose produce section. We’ve also paid a bit more than usual for truly biodegradable bin bags, made from corn starch[!?] or something similar.

We’ve not gone fully vegan, but are still largely vegetarian. We eat eggs and have the odd treat of some cheese. Once in a while we still eat some chicken too.
(More about chickens/eggs in the garden section.)

I’m currently looking into healthier options for our cat, the food we buy her now is expensive and processed. I have found a supplement that can be added to meat. Sure, we’ll still be supporting the meat industry and all the problems that brings, but my cat is a part of the family and deserves a healthy diet.

Keeping Warm.

We’ve given up on the olive oil lamps, not great light sources and yet amazing little heaters. I’ll try to find some way to use the parts and might come back to them next winter. The heating is now off and will stay that way indefinitely.

We’re also using our current small increase in financial stability to invest in beeswax tea lights. I hadn’t really thought about the ones we were using before, it was only when the last batch we bought produced a very nasty smell that we decided (much like our food) to go as natural/organic as possible.

I’ve found some that are sold with the option of not having the aluminium cups/containers. I have actually been keeping all of the ones we’ve used with the idea of an art project or upcycling of some sort in future. So, I can reuse them again for now with the new candles. I should do the same with our other light-candles, but we will use what we have first.

Power.

We found out where our power comes from, a nice move on our power company. Utter transparency and honesty, but not such a pleasant surprise. The breakdown was more or less:

    • 20% renewable (a good start)
    • 25% coal (the horror!!!!)
    • 25% nuclear (oh dear!!)

I still need to translate the remaining 30% which came from several different sources.

Well, finding alternatives to both save money and not use this wicked electricity has become an even bigger issue for me.

Thankfully we have unplugged the fridge-freezer and the only major energy we use is my computer for work. Having eventually failed at trying a tablet and a low-energy computer like the Raspberry Pi.

The other three big items is the washing machine, and my husband’s Xbox and TV. He is very much willing to take on this lifestyle change with the exception of one of his favourite games. I’ve asked him to play less, but have promised not to ask him to stop altogether.

Let’s see how it goes, sometimes he says he wants a new electric razor and this and that. Maybe it’s old habits or maybe he’s just thinking out loud and not entirely serious about getting these things.

Currently we are generating our own power from the wood burning oven and kettle that both use heat to make power, plus the old small solar panels and a some wind-up torches.

In the future I’d really like a small wind turbine, rather than a questionable (environmentally-friendly speaking) solar panel and perhaps more human-powered options.

I’ve decided to donate my Kindle to my father, once I’ve read all the books, as I know he is interested in getting one. I’ll ask that he sells/hands it on in future and so my concerns over its sustainability should have been solved.

Cleanliness.

I have been using soaps and shampoos again, and I did need a shave last month.

I had a Xmas treat of a haircut too. I kept the top long, and just had the sides shaved. So, I can still see exactly how much my hair has grown.

I am not changing my mind about not shaving or cutting my hair, this was simply an end of year treat.

I am reading about making my own soap/shampoo and won’t buy new products. I need to be ready with my own by the time our supply runs out, or go a few weeks again without any.

I am still peeing in the bidet to save water, but once our compost bin is established I’ll be peeing there. I’m sure the neighbours will be giving me some funny looks, but I need to set up a screen for me to also have showers outdoors come summer.

It’s entirely possible for this screen to evolve into an outdoor shower and compost toilet cabin. I have been doing my research into compost toilets. And am wondering why these aren’t mandatory in all new buildings?! Well, it’s at the top of my wish-list but being one of the more pricey items, will not necessarily happen this year.

What about the garden?

I spent the princely sum of €0.80 to buy some garlic, lettuce, cabbage and a little more on a new apple tree, raspberry bush and I forget one more. We’ve planted seeds for some insect friendly flowers, more peas (our current ones were badly damaged in gales), cornflower, borage and chard.

I’m finally getting organized and have began making monthly planting schedules that I can refer to again year after year.

I also harvested some onions, but have replanted them to produce more. I was very excited to see five little onions had grown from the one I planted last year. Never have I smelt fresh onion before, wow!

We need to get more soil but have plenty of wood chippings left, and we’re avoiding spending money on more pots by upcycling anything and everything that has no other value or use. As part of our cutting down on rubbish, we now only have one bin, our old coffee maker, which no-one wants to buy, joins an old kettle, old cat litter box, mugs, vases, packets and more.

Having bees is a long way-a-way, given finding them locally has proven a headache. My source of worms has also disappeared, meaning I can’t get some once our compost bin has been established. :-(

And chickens? Given we still eat meat, and that I have found much cheaper starting options than I originally posted? Yes, they are back on the radar – but with no clear date in mind for when we’ll get them. I can always feed the kitchen scraps too, but will there be enough for feed and compost?

What else is new/old?

We’ve still got plenty of old pallets and wood to make more things but have no real need for anything just yet. Maybe our outdoor bathroom/screen or some pot containers. I guess there’s no rush to decide.

Sadly, I am still waiting for my Altered Nozzle, the sooner we get this and save some water the better.

We’re ready to sell on more items such as books and other odds, but having got sick of boxes, we recycled or upcycled them and will now just have to accept less for items than we had once hoped.

I’ve been checking through my social media and have lost access to my Tumblr, but I’m not currently too bothered by this. If you’re messaging me there, I won’t get it.

The future?

Let’s just see what happens with Instagram, vlogging and other social media, but for sure I am excited to continue writing here.

As I said, chickens sometime this year and hopefully bees who knows when.

Willow coppice for firewood is also on my list, but this may not be a reality until we have our own land… along with the wind turbine.

I plan on getting/making a camping shower for free hot water this summer, but in the meantime we will need the boiler and gas for short hot showers.

Other things for the longer future that require we own our home, need more land or basically money are a plant-based grey-water filtration system and that compost toilet.

I don’t expect many people dream and wish for a compost toilet, but I’m one of them now.

And of course, more crop plants.

 

Phew. I think I’ve said enough. Thanks for reading this mammoth post. I’m so excited for the year ahead, and hope you continue to follow us on this journey.

Wait, reset.

I feel that I’ve already gotten off topic on a few of my posts here, sure I wanna be self-sufficient and sustainable for the good of the planet. I have always been an environmentalist to some degree, even during my less green and more wasteful moments.

The reason I haven’t dedicated this blog purely to green issues is that it depresses me. I see waste and destruction everywhere, always have done. That’s why I studied Environmental Science and that’s why my family told me I think too much.

Perhaps they are right, and rather than get depressed about it I need to not over think things and simply act on them. I will try.

Focusing on my health, happiness and living within my means, on a much reduced salary (partly by choice), is the best way that I can help the planet.

I have fallen back into some old habits in such a short time and need to remind myself of why I started this blog, money and my hatred for it. Perhaps it is naive or immature to only blame money for creating the environmental destruction we see today. But you have to admit money creates the perfect conditions for the social and environmental apathy that riddles our societies today. Well, not counting those who do more harm by trying to do good. Yes, you. You social media junkies.

I wanted to support alternative companies and convinced myself that a Fairphone and some GoTennas were acceptable purchases, one is sustainable and socially responsible and the other allows me to save money and make use of the first.

No, no, no. Damn! We are all so brainwashed to buy, spend, dispose and buy again. It is crazy. I do not need nor want a smartphone (no matter how like-minded the manufacturer and I are). Neither do I want or need to use social media. Where better to share my photos and ideas than right here.

It was my patient partner who made me realise that I’d fallen into the trap of commercialism when he made our new dinning table, from pieces recused from being dumped. One main piece was a beautiful antique but very weather-beaten set of legs, the others were a mix of pallets, wood and chipboard used to transport fittings for a new shop.

There’s that waste issue again, so much wood wasted after one use. Need to shake of the sadness and anger. The positive, an entirely free and repurposed dinning table for us. :-)

So as before, I have cancelled my funding for GoTenna on Kickstarter and my order for a Fairphone 2. It’s a little late to return the fancy cooker that generates power (a BioLite BaseCamp), but this is something that I need, use and can just about justify. Good luck to those who need fancy devices, there are some great companies out there producing products that are better for the environment and good for people wanting to be more self-sufficient/to go off-grid. But let’s face it, everything we make is bad for the planet no matter how green it is. I, however, am happy with my modest dumb Doro phone.

ups & downs

I watch people (mostly Americans) unboxing, reviewing and demoing utter fucking shite on YouTube and feel genuinely angry, lost, confused and flabbergasted that people really want this crap. Not only that they want it but that they hand over real money for it.

Such a waste of… money? Well yeah but I was going to say resources, time, effort and fuck yeah money. If all those resources, time and money were instead given to a worthwhile cause, a charity or to helping the environment then what a difference.

But that’s what makes them happy? Bollocks. Really? Ugly plastic turds that look like imaginary characters? Useless gizmos and gadgets that tell you what colour something is??

Open your fucking eyes, read a book, grow up a little, make a friend, volunteer at a local charity or shelter. Then tell me that garbage still makes you happy.

Let’s call this an up and a down. I feel more determined to commit to my newly chosen lifestyle and yet feel utter overwhelmed by the tide of idiots and their flood of utterly pointless and wasteful ‘toys’.

Then I get a bill from the gas company, in six weeks we used only €10 but we have to pay €380 in installation fees?!!? Bloody hell! €800 is the minimum monthly salary here, what would a family with only one working adult do when they first got their gas supply connected??

This made me even more determined, I’d cut off my supply and get a refund from those cunting thieves! The government and their tax rates are no better, but that’s a whole other can of snakes.

That’d be an up, but it is soon followed by another down.

My one cherry tomato plant has some infection and died almost overnight. Small things, my dad would say, don’t sweat them. Sure, but that was my symbolic plant. The first food-plant I’d ever bought/grown.

I feel like a bloody yo-yo, perhaps this is normal for such a radical change in lifestyle. Maybe I am being too harsh and too extreme too soon. Not letting myself switch on more than one light for more than 10 minutes each day. Only charging my Kindle (another thing to discuss later)  when I can charge it with solar energy.

And then there are those days that I am too tired from still working too many hours and needing to cook a meal over flame, which is bloody difficult, and tend to the garden and find firewood. Damn, I am a whiny-assed bitch.

Too long have I lived in too much comfort, even when we had little we had something.

I have books, I allowed myself a small spend on some secondhand books about self-sufficiency. Yet I am always too knackered to read, worse still I am too tired to write here.

I tried limiting myself to only writing between working hours, to reduce how much I am using my computer when absolutely not necessary. Nice idea, bad for creative juices.

Then this happens:

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Wine Cap Mushroom, or garden giant (stropharia rugosoannulata).

A small victory, the mushroom spores I planted have obviously survived and began to produce fruit. Such a joyous moment and one to spur me on.

So, forgive me long absences and my ranting and my cursing. I am very much a grumpy environmentalist and most positively a spoilt moneyless man, but I will struggle onwards.

And, I will change my mind on not sharing photos. It is after all my second passion to writing. I must however not allow myself to fall into the same trap of sharing a photo in place of writing something to go with it. Dare I even start and Instagram account?

More on that next time.

The Choice

I’ve had a somewhat naughty week, I found myself in such a funk that I splurged on electricity and threw the weekly budget out the window.

Then I caught myself shopping, mindlessly browsing social networks and soon realised that this was worse. Such a waste of time and energy (I mean my own spiritually and physically) that I once more decided that I had made the right decision when starting this journey and making the choice to cut back/down/off some of the “luxuries” of the 21st century that none of us really needs and which only serve to keep us in a numb and mindless zombified & brainwashed state.

We are mere cogs, automatons in a system designed like a machine to consume and move on and on without care or concern for the individual parts or the world outside the machine.

No, no more for me. I am in no place to drop out of the system but I can at least refuse to accept many of the things that I do not like. I can regain my humanness and remember that I am a living, sentient being on this precious little planet.

This realisation and re-humanising of myself has spurred me on to go further and to do it mostly as the selfish act of saving money that I originally declared, but also for my soul it will be a way to accept that at least I am no longer contributing to the destruction of the Earth.

It may be too little and too late, but at least I can sleep easy at night knowing that it isn’t entirely my fault and that I have done my best to ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to make this very same choice for themselves.