Self Sufficiency

Selfsufficiency is the greatest of all wealth. – Epicurus

Becoming Self Sufficient During a Global Pandemic. 

Life on Lockdown, Even After We Ran for the Hills

 

At first I was afraid.

I was petrified…

Right now I spend half my time peer reviewing memes, sharing them, and making jokes about how well adapted to social isolation I am as an introvert. 

The other half of my time is spent aghast —  soaking up information, news, tidbits, trends, and constantly refreshing recent announcements. 

Finally. We are on lockdown. 5 days in. 

Except that Espen and I went on lockdown about 2 weeks ago. And going even further back, we first learned to embrace social distancing in 2017 when we sold our home and went travelling, just the two of us. 

Ever since that moment, we only have with us what we can carry. 

Sometimes that’s hand luggage and a couple of checked in bags. Sometimes it’s a car load of stuff

We call it nomadic on good days, and homeless on bad ones. 

The upside is that we’ve travelled extensively, savoured so many different lifestyles, learned a lot about how we would like to live — and we’ve saved ourselves the financial burden of paying rent or mortgages for over two years.

The downside: social isolation. We are often in places, sometimes entire countries, where we know no-one. 

We are far from home, and we can rely only on ourselves. 

We learned to be resilient. 

It was a choice. 

Settling in the Cairngorms Amid Lockdown

 

To be truthful though, it was wearing thin. We longed for mundane things: having our belongings under the same roof, owning our own kettle, a bookcase. We craved a house of our own. 

When we arrived in Ballater, in the Cairngorms on 8th March 2020, the alarm bells of the pandemic were already signalling. There were already cases of Coronavirus throughout the four corners of the UK, and the first death had been recorded on the 5th March, just a few days before. 

Still. 

Life was pretty normal. 

We went to the pub on our first night in the village and enjoyed a nice pint and a glass of wine while we talked about our plans for the weeks ahead. 

We had a four-week long house sit to look forward to in this beautiful mountain town, and we wanted to make the most of it. 

Things were already crazy in Italy, and their lockdown was three days in this stage, but for some reason, we all just watched on with morbid, remote fascination.

Following closely events as they unfolded and escalated in Italy, The Day After The Pub, we decided to socially distance ourselves. 

I text my family asking them to take care. 

They text back: “stop fear mongering.” 

In the coming days, Espen and I were hooked on the news. I wasn’t actually journalling during this time, something I now deeply regret.

Rather, I was painfully aware of how addicted to the news I was, to my phone, to the supply of information — like an IV line, WiFi gave me a round-the-clock fix.

It was all getting very real.

becoming self sufficient in the cairngorms during lockdown

By then, Spain was starting to report on its suffering. This was where our house sit owners were destined to be travelling to. 

We felt uneasy. Things were escalating fast.

By the end of that first week of house sitting, we had been to see 2 properties for rent in the village — one house and one apartment.

By the weekend, flights to Spain were being turned round in the air. 

We applied for the house. We coaxed the lawyers handling it to please hurry the F up with our application. Our references were turned round in a day. I’m forever grateful to those amazing four people. 

On the Monday, we got a message from our house sit owners:

 “We decided not to go to Spain. We’re coming back. Probably Thursday. Sorry.”

We felt so much relief for them. But we also straight-up freaked out.  Later on, Monday afternoon they messaged again. “We’ll be back tomorrow. Sorry.”

We immediately phoned the lawyers, we phoned the landlord. We paid the deposit. We moved in within 24 hours. 

Our own place.

At long last. And at the shortest notice imaginable.

our-own-self-sufficient-house

That was nearly two weeks ago. 

In that time, we’ve watched Italy and Spain crumble. 

And we watched our political leaders in the UK woefully and seemingly wilfully f— k it up. 

From herd immunity, pasta shortages and bog roll extinction, to hesitations in closing down social gatherings and schools. 

All followed by an incoherent mumbled message of a lackadaisical lockdown that required multiple clarifications over the following days. 

The whole while, we’ve barely seen a soul. 

We stayed at home long before we were instructed to. Because by the time we were instructed to, the damage was already done. There was never an intention to flatten this curve. 

The whole country is on lockdown. And I get it — I really do. It just should have been ordered unequivocally weeks ago. 

We watch the news, images of empty streets,  empty supermarket shelves, whole cities in hiding. 

empty-supermarket-shelves-during-lockdown

But here, in the countryside, it feels very different. Right now, at least, it still feels like normal life. Less a few privileges.

On Becoming Self Sufficient

 

If you like or crave social contact, you probably live in a city. And if you don’t — you probably already live in social isolation to some degree in the countryside.

That’s where I’m at with it right now.

We all make choices, those choices have consequences.

We wanted the countryside. We wanted to be more self-sufficient. We wanted to be able to survive some kind of apocalypse when it came. 

Here, the hills are empty. Our local walks are deserted. People are staying home, as per guidance —  but I can’t help but feel that the need for that here is somewhat less.

We are just lucky to have the space to actually make the most of social distancing —  even within the guidelines.

According to government census data, 83% of the UK’s population live in built up areas, with just 17% in rural areas. For that 83%, social distancing in confined spaces is nothing less than hard — but it is what is necessary to flatten the curve and reduce the spread.

In the countryside, our main priority is to not introduce it to our communities, and not overburden our under resourced healthcare facilities, ill equipped to handle a pandemic.

But out in nature, where I can breathe deeply and freely, I can breathe and move without real fear of any of a virus.

This is where I feel free.

This is why we decided to literally quit our jobs and run for the hills all those years ago.

This is precisely what we were aiming for.

So in these coming days, we will continue to walk, to exercise, and to get fresh air.

And we will continue to secure our home, because that’s what resiliency and self-sufficiency is all about. And I strongly believe that resiliency will fast become a highly prized skill, or achievement. Not how much money you make or how many cars are in the drive.

Resiliency goes hand in hand with sustainability for me. It helps us cope with experiences which could be overwhelming. It helps us to create and maintain balance in our lives during difficult times.

And if we aren’t careful with how we treat the planet, more and more events will undoubtedly occur which require us to be resilient.

So I’ll just be over here, in the mountains, playing both ends to the middle. Trying to save the planet one little bit at a time, and also trying to survive the consequences of other people trying to destroy it.

Becoming self-sufficient and resilient. That’s our goal.

From our little corner of the planet to you, much love. ♡

PS… If you want to know more about our transition into a location-independent lifestyle that allowed us to move to the mountains – it all started here

view of lochnagar, Cairngorms