New Realities

My new reality, along with millions of others, has shrunk down to a world of home.

Everything is changed.

Work continues, albeit remotely, with conference calls and Zoom meetings run from my hastily erected desk in the bedroom. With two young adult stepsons, a husband and a dog in the house, everyone has carved themselves a small corner of space wherever they can. The house is bursting at the seams.

It’s important for me at times like this to build new routines to help smooth the passage of the day. A mug of tea and a biscuit in gaps between calls (even if it’s a home baked one. Hell, especially if it’s a home baked one).

Lunch half hour with Hugh so that we can connect over a sandwich briefly before the afternoon restarts.

An hour after the meetings subside in the afternoon to enjoy a book before starting dinner preparation.

Despite the fact that we all spend our days in different rooms, coming together as a family for dinner in the evening, all eating at the table and chatting, is an important part of the day for me.

Important not just for sustenance (there seems to be no natural limit to the number of Oreos or Doritos that teenagers can consume during waking hours) but also for connection and mutual support. Whilst we are all here together in enforced lockdown I want to make the most of our time together. With the boys at 19 and 22 who knows when we will do this again.

The evenings have morphed into lettuce eating competitions (I’m saving the pics from that for blackmail purposes with future potential grandchildren), poker games and Cards for Humanity sessions as well as the inevitable films and Netflix.

It’s nice. It’s our new temporary reality. Whilst the Coronavirus rages in London, it’s the best we can do to stay safe and take care of each other.

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 👍