A few years ago, Andy and I moved into a little converted barn, in the Sussex Countryside.
Compared to our three-bedroom rental, it was tiny – an open plan kitchen, dining and living space, a bedroom and a bathroom on the ground floor, with a little room and second shower room built into the eaves above.
It had a little conservatory running down the south side, which the landlord proclaimed was a ‘solar heater’ – the large glass windows intended to reflect heat into the barn during cold months.
Although it did have underfloor heating, we never really got to grips with it, preferring to use the wood burning stove that sat in the centre of the living space when we needed to. Its water was supplied by a well onsite, and the pump would whir and grind each time you turned on a tap.
It was set at the end of a tiny rural village, nestled at the bottom of the South Downs, surrounded by fields and horses, chickens and vegetable plots, our only neighbours being the larger barn of the landlord, and a picturesque little cottage nearby.
It had electricity of course, and we leached the landlord’s internet, so it wasn’t the complete wilderness you might be imagining, but it was certainly unlike anything we’d ever lived in before.
It was a necessity at the time – our landlady had decided to sell the house that we rented, and we needed to downsize in order to save for our own house – but it put us on a path I’d never expected to walk.
We lived in that barn for almost two years, and in that time, I learned an appreciation for the country life. Fresh eggs every day, vegetables straight out of the garden, and a quiet, simple life that worked with the land, rather than against it.
When we could finally afford to buy our own home, and moved back to suburbia, I found myself missing that simple life, and decided to see whether it was possible to take some of what I’d learned and apply it to our little home – a country escape in an urban landscape.
When I began looking into what I could achieve, I found that information relevant to our UK climate was few and far between, and most traditional homesteaders worked on a much larger scale than I would be attempting.
So, although this blog will be mostly dedicated to my writing life, I hope you will enjoy the occasional insight into our homesteading journey - and find out, along with us, whether our dream of self-sufficiency is possible in urban England.