Sunday Column (335)


We are back from a week off. Similar to Marissa Mayer from Yahoo, I believe that I rather take a week off, and that more often, than having a longer holiday. Particularly at the stage I am in life with family and job. As long as you don’t worry and don’t work that week at all, you can really wind down. And having a few ‘one weeks’ off a year suits us currently well as a family and also works best in my current work situation.

We went to Devon, glamping, glamorous camping, in a yurt. That was fun! Back to basic staying on an organic vegetable farm. The yurt was spacious, heated up during the day and was pleasant at night. The roof light made me wake up reasonable early, 6-7 am, so I fit in my exercise and meditation routine. The family stayed asleep.

The kids and even I slept 12 hours often, a real wind down, I am chilled. Back to nature, a roof light through which you saw the moon. The door opened to the East to get the morning sun in. A fantastic, peaceful setting. A somewhat miraculous space I have to say, and we could sit outside some nights enjoying the moon rise and a glass of wine. It was great. Unfortunately we had some rainy days too, so ended up driving home Friday night rather than Saturday during the day. However, this wasn’t due to dislike but a decision based on traffic, things to do and yes also comfort and weather 😉

yurt

The yurt experience was back to basics. Firstly, and most annoyingly, not even 3G coverage, no emails, no Facebook. Latter wasn’t bad of course but not being able to use Google Maps when lost, Strava for tracking your runs or looking at (personal) emails I found challenging. Yet it was a good digital detox. After two days I found a Costas, and then regularly free wifi in shops and tourist attractions to get my digital fix.

The toilet was wood chip based, or flushed, e.g. no water. The hand basin, both located a short walk up the hill, was ok to wash hands yet for UV filtered water to drink we had to walk down the hill to the farm. A power shower, solar powered lights and hot water were there too. Sustainable. That’s where we charged our phones, which batteries lasted forever not being used often, wifi turned off most of the time. That was a first.

It makes you think about rubbish, recycling and a self sustainable life style. A bit hippyish, sharing the communal space. We liked that. Veggies and fruit as much as we liked. Fresh eggs. However, we almost had a bad conscious eating our pre-packed chicken thighs and sausages from Tescos creating a lot of rubbish. Was there guilt?

Not really. They didn’t try to make us feel bad, it was us! What I mean by that is that one reconsiders. Could I buy things differently packed? In Germany when I was 14, so well over 20 years ago, they introduced a 5 cents (10 Pfennigs really) charge for plastic bags. We, in our environmental group, bought things in supermarkets which were packed a few times and unpacked them to demonstrate the amount of unnecessary rubbish. Nothing has changed but that I accepted the rubbish. Dropping principles I suppose, giving in to the money making machinery of supermarkets.

That makes me think. Did I accepted the fact that we pollute the planet, that I cannot afford individual wrapped sausages from the butcher, that I buy ‘convenience’ or that I, me personally, will not be able to change the world?
It is probably a combination of all of the above. I alone cannot change the world and life moved on, so I went the path of least effort and resistance. Why would I want to be the odd one out, trying to explain to others how it is done? I was never confident to do that, and also believe circumstances didn’t allow me to.

I would encourage it though. The hippyish lifestyle of our yurt owners is something to envy. The idea of living of your own land, sustain yourself, stick to your principles. And this is more a guess than me interviewing them about details. The bit to be a bit different. Hence it is nice to be back to basics for a week. Re-learning and letting the boys understand that not all packaged food has to be packaged and some food grows on trees. One can pick one’s own raspberries, beans, blackberries, salad…and collect fresh eggs. We try that at home sometimes too. So maybe we aren’t that bad after all. Maybe a week in the country side does help us to connect, connect with Mother Earth, in a very old fashioned hippy way. And it feels great, calming, soothing.

It almost feels romantic, giving something back to life, to humanity, to world peace maybe. Could I do it? I always used to say I am a banker and work 24/7 or a sheep farmer in the Australian out backs. Black or white, extreme. I am never going to be a farmer, rather a monk, and I don’t believe I will own a Harley Davidson driving through America either. No, I work more like the banker but with additional family time. I have just a usual life. Happy. Content in my own world. Probably just normal. Nothing wrong with it I suppose. Ordinary really.

That doesn’t mean I can’t dream or try. Every now and then escape. Being able to waste a day, being in bed doing nothing. Letting the kids roam ‘wild’ and enjoying the being in the now. Exploring the woods, nature and sitting on a wood chip toilet overlooking the countryside. Having a digital detox in a first world country.

It was a great week away.
We loved it.
A first trip of a journey back.

Love and happiness from my corner of the world.
Volker

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