London Lockdown

The streets and squares are empty here in London. It’s quite surreal for a city that was packed with people only a week ago. I know that they’re in the houses and flats somewhere, living their lives behind the windows, but it feels deserted.

London is now officially in lockdown. Bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms and businesses closed. Very limited public transport. No cars on the road.

Buying food is now a problem. We have some stores of dried and frozen food, but have no idea how or when we will be able to buy more. Online food services are overloaded and either suspended or not taking on new customers due to demand. The local Tesco supermarket has been stripped back to the bare shelves through panic buying.

I have bread flour, and when my current loaf runs out I will bake bread at home. Sourdough, flatbreads, rolls, scones. As long as I can source flour we won’t starve. I know how to make meals from scratch and cook with the dried pulses and grains that we always have on hand, but I do wonder how many of the generation who don’t cook this way are going to cope.

Perhaps this will be a reset for humanity. Maybe this will act as a very real warning that we have lived disposably, wastefully and with excess for too long. I believe that we will get through this, but I also think that what we will be left with when we do will be a very different world.

On the Skye build front- it looks as if work should start in the next few weeks at last, subject to contracts next week. If we still have builders who are able and allowed to work, that is. I can’t think in chunks of more than a week at a time at the moment so where we go from here is very uncertain.

Both Hugh and I wish that we were a year further along and had the resources of the croft behind us for isolation, but there’s no merit in that thinking. We are here and we need to make the best of our current reality. All this has done is to re-strengthen my resolve to be more independent – to grow vegetables, keep a well stocked pantry of essentials, and build the life skills to get through such times as these as easily as possible.

Challenging times

Could we have possibly chosen a more challenging time in which to build our house and take early retirement? I think maybe not…

A combination of health, wealth and logistics challenges are dominating our lives right now.

I’ve had severe arthritis in both knees for a few years now, and decided that I needed to get this sorted if I was going to be an active helpmeet and partner in croft life.

As such in December last year I had a left knee total knee replacement. The recovery has been slow and very painful over the past few months, and progress has not been as planned or hoped for.

I’m writing this from a hospital bed having just gone through a Manipulation under Anaesthetic to try and break down the scar tissue that has formed (despite physio therapy), and get a few degrees more flexibility back. It’s now massively swollen and painful, but should be able to bend and straighten properly once everything has calmed down.

We thought long and hard about elective surgery in a London hospital as the city is going through lockdown to try and control the virus spread. In the end, the small window of opportunity for this process, combined with the fact that I think that hospitals will be under even more pressure in the months to come, meant that I felt that I should have it done now.

The Coronavirus panic has also caused the stock markets to melt down. In the worst trading week for decades we’ve seen over 25% wiped off our savings for the house and our future life. I hope that this will eventually bounce back, but whether it will do so in time for us is a matter for speculation and great concern. This was already tight, and now it’s even more important that we find ways of cutting the costs to make our build viable. Doubly worrying as costs have only been going in the other direction…

To that end, the builder is arranging to go back to the site next week to look again at the access road and try and work with us to get the costs down. This is just a portion of the spend, but if we start with an element that is three times its original estimate that really doesn’t bode well for the rest.

So, in this time of doom and gloom, what are we doing? We are not giving up. We will fight to find ways to make this work, and are as determined as we ever were that we want this move.

Not that moving to this new lifestyle will solve the worlds problems or even isolate us from them, but we believe that a life of purpose, living closer to nature and with a small community around us will be a healthier and happier way to live.

Bring it on 👍