Category Archives: smallholding

SURFS UP – A life without wifi

Ok, so the #internet didn’t exist when we were growing up, but I remember it being introduced in my mid to late teens and it blew my mind…(Abz’ mind was already pretty much blown by then but it probably blew it some more..)

At that time, being so new, there was no where near the vast amount of information or entertainment #online because people hadn’t added it yet. But still, using messenger to instant message ‘friends’ all over the world was thrilling…(Those were the days when getting a high score in #snake was the epitome of cool.)

As the years passed the internet, and it’s popularity, grew rapidly. And with the introduction of social media sites like #Myspace, #Facebook and more recently #Twitter people began to live their social lives increasingly online.

Now don’t get me wrong, #email has fantastic advantages in #sharing information and #socialmedia is a great promotional tool not to mention a cheap and easy way of staying in touch with friends and family. I just worry that it might be making us a bit lazy in the real world.

At our last house we had infinity broadband (superfast wifi) and it dominated our lives. I’d completely forgotten how to entertain myself without the ‘World Wide Web’ (that’s what it stands for) and once logged on I found myself stuck like a fly in it’s technolgical web, wasting hours on twitter and watching YouTube videos of baby goats wearing pyjamas. (Which is actually very cute)

So like any good addict I called BT the minute we had our move date, keen to ensure a seamless transition of service to our new rural property. But despite calling weeks in advance, our rural location had a ‘shortage of engineers in our area’ and meant we were in for a bit of a wait…

The day after we moved in it also became clear that there was no mobile service anywhere on our property. The first place we got a weak signal was half a mile down the pot hole riddled entrance track. And once there, our phones would begin to vibrate and beep into life! We soon realised that the picturesque fir-tree covered mountains all around us that we loved so much were acting as a sort of frequency blanket and blocking all chance of us getting a signal of anything. And it wasn’t just wifi or phone service, we couldn’t even get a tv reception!

So 1 week into our new life our wifi engineer had still not shown up and we were starting to get cabin fever. And when he finally arrived a WEEK later the news was not good.

“you’ve got no chance of getting broadband here love…haha…not even dial up! He chuckled as he informed me in a thick welsh accent…”You’re just too far from the exchange.” I’m not a violent person, but for just a second I wanted to slap him.

We hadn’t planned for this, what would this mean for our work and social life? I wasn’t even sure what i was afraid of, but i was. I was flipping terrified.

And then a strange thing happened. Once we weren’t waiting for wifi to be installed we started living our lives normally for the first time in years. I rediscovered my passion for reading, all those gardening and self sufficiency books I’d bought a year ago and never gotten round to reading were coming in handy now i wasn’t distracted, and I was finishing one every few days. Abz & I were playing boardgames like scrabble and talking. And I noticed almost immediately that I was getting so much more done around the house and farm without the constant distraction of texts, emails and tweets pulling our focus into the oh so sticky world wide web..

The quiet became nice, soothing even.

And ok, I’ll admit there are challenges to living without wifi, there were times when we needed to google something like “how to remove a tick” or “ how to grow pineapples”. But if it’s something really urgent we call someone with wifi.

As the weeks and months passed we slowly discovered more spots in our area where we could get a wifi signal and a nearby mountain with 4 bars 3G became the go to site for our ‘mobile office’, the car. Obviously we still have work and social things we need to do that require ‘logging on’. Which means sitting in a chilly car up the mountain for hours on end every few days. But still, it is nice to keep the house a wifi free zone…

So were one year into this experiment now, and on the whole we’ve gotten on really well without wifi, which has come as a genuine suprise to us both.

So when the option of satellite wifi came up we pondered whether – if we had a spare £500 – would we have it installed? And we’d never say never, but for now were enjoying the clarity, productivity and peace that come with a life without wifi.

How do you feel about wifi, and the dominance it has in your life? Could you live with out it? Please feel free to comment below & we’ll do our best to respond 🙂

Happy New year!!!

Vicky Fallon

MERRY VIXMASS & an ABBY new year!

Excuse the pun, I couldn’t resist.

Well, Christmas has finally arrived and (depending on whether you’re a human or a turkey) it’s either the best time of the year or the worst. But however you feel about Christmas, if you want a good giggle this festive season tune into BBC two on Boxing day at 10pm for our Christmas special of COUNTRY STRIFE – Abz On The Christmas Farm. We can promise you there’s a barrel of laughs to be had!

We’re so excited for you all to see what we’ve been up to! Our first year attempting to become ‘farmers’ has seen it’s ups and downs and rounds and rounds…As well as it’s fair share of frowns and with a few smiles thrown in…and some tears…

This winter has been weirdly mild. But allow me to take you back to the winter of yesteryear when it was not quite so cosy in paradise…

2014 was our first winter here on the farm and we were not at all prepared. Whatsoever….Like literally oblivious as to what lay in store…Abz became so depressed with the bitter cold he attempted to hibernate “like a bear” through the month of December, only to emerge hungry and weak two days in…

But before I take you on a tour of our frosty woes, you need to know that we currently heat our home and water (and do all our cooking) on a rusty old Rayburn stove. (which for those of you that have never seen one is essentially a cast iron cupboard which you can light a fire in.) And if you can get it hot enough you can cook things on it. (If you can get it hot at all that is.)

Living in a modern city like London, you get used to being dry and warm and you spend most of your life indoors, so our pampered, cold intolerant skin was in for a nasty shock!!! During the coldest months our life became all about tending the stove and attempting to keep it burning. But our fire making skills left alot to be desired…

Needless to say, countless firelighters and matches lost their lives that winter (and even a few bottles of lighter fuel) as we struggled to make and maintain a fire.

On the coldest nights we slept in shifts to keep the Rayburn burning 24/7. The duty bearer (AKA me) rising at 5am to stoke it back up only for the other (AKA me) to take over at 6am to feed & muck out the horses. Little did we know that all we had to do was pack it full of wood and coal before we went to bed and it would still be going strong in the morning.

It took us a year to figure that out but you can have that tip for free.

Yes the harsh reality of our first ‘off grid’ winter was far removed from the idyllic, blissful lifestyle we had fantasized the good life to be, but we adapted to our new low tech lifestyle surprisingly quickly. Superfast wifi was replaced with games of scrabble and mobile phone service involved a 4 mile hike up the nearest mountain but the view was so nice we didn’t mind. And as the months passed, without even realising it we began to adapt….In fact when a work commitment called for us to stay in a fancy schmancy London hotel in summer….The hotel room (which looked like something out of star trek) had a snazzy modern remote system that controlled the tv, wifi and changed the colour and brightness of the lights (which Abz was convinced was “witchcraft.”) It was so high tech we couldn’t work out how to switch everything off and eventually we had to sleep with the tv & lights on.

Yes our new life is far removed from the luxuries we used to enjoy, and I’ve got to be honest sometimes all this hunting and gathering of wood is a downright pain in the arse. But a rayburn is a pretty nifty bit of kit once you know what you’re doing. And it runs completely on solid fuel so there’s no more dreaded gas bills. Happy days!

Still, scarred from the horrendous winter of 2014 we decided to plan well ahead for this one. Spending a small fortune on coal and gathering enough twigs and branches to build our very own ARK. Only to hear that the U.K was on track for it’s mildest winter in years…Ffs!??!

Mother nature sure has got one G.S.O.H

The rain on the other hand is relentless and my obsession with comparing our weather with London’ is getting embarrassing. I don’t even say hello when our friends call anymore. I just answer the phone with “What’s the weather like there?”

I wish I could promise that this is the last time you will have to suffer a weather rant, but that would probably be a lie.

Wishing you a warm & dry christmas.

With love

Vicky Fallon