Archive

Uncategorized

shelter photo

(with translations below in: Français/ Deutsch/ & Español)

In 1973 Lloyd Kahn published his third book on alternative architecture and overnight it became a bestseller, in turn changing the lives of a whole generation.  This was SHELTER (ISBN 0-936070-11-0), an anarchic look at examples of self-build and homesteading around the globe.  Maureen saw a copy in COMPENDIUM BOOKS, that legendary bookshop in Camden High Street (London), and from then on we knew exactly what we were going to do with the rest of our lives.

More titles have appeared since, all equally inspirational, including HOME WORK/ Handbuilt Shelter (2004, ISBN 0-936070-33-1) and TINY HOMES/ Simple Shelter (2012, ISBN 978-0936070-52-0), which are both a must for anyone interested in off-grid/ self-sufficiency.

But more importantly, 44 years on, there is yet another one to equal SHELTER, entitled SMALL HOMES/ The Right Size (2017,  ISBN 978-0-936070-68-1).  And this time the roles have been reversed and El Pocito is one of those featured.  Without doubt the highest honour Maureen and I could ever have wished for.

Obviously you have to get yourself a copy, but first please SHARE our joy by telling everyone you know to visit our internet site and see for themselves how small and simple can be beautiful:

https://elpocito.wordpress.com.

 

En 1973, Lloyd Kahn publiait son troisième livre d’architecture alternative, qui devint un bestseller du jour au lendemain et changea la vie de toute une génération. Ce livre était SHELTER (ISBN 0-936070-11-0), une collection anarchique d’exemples d’habitations construites soi-même et d’installations auto-suffisantes à travers le monde.  Maureen tomba sur un exemplaire à COMPENDIUM BOOKS, cette légendaire librairie de Camden High Street (Londres) et, dès lors, nous sûmes exactement ce que nous allions faire du reste de nos vie.  D’autres ouvrages sont parus depuis, tout aussi inspirants, comme par exemple HOME WORK/ Handbuilt Shelter (2004, ISBN 0-936070-33-1) et TINY HOMES/ Simple Shelter (2012, ISBN 978-0936070-52-0), qui sont tous deux incontournables pour quiconque s’intéresse à la vie alternative hors-réseau en auto-suffisance.

Plus important encore, 44 ans après, il y a un ouvrage qui égale SHELTER et dont le titre est SMALL HOMES/The Right Size (2017,  ISBN 978-0-936070-68-1).  Cette fois les rôles ont été inversés et El Pocito est l’un des habitats présenté.  Sans aucun doute le plus grand honneur que Maureen et moi pouvions souhaiter.

Il va sans dire que vous ne pouvez pas manquer de vous procurer votre propre exemplaire, mais, d’abord, ayez la gentillesse de partager notre joie en demandant à vos connaissances d’aller visiter notre site internet, afin que chacun puisse voir par lui-même à quel point un petit habitat en toute simplicité peut être beau.

https://elpocito.wordpress.com

(translation thanks to Jeanette Compte)

 

1973 veröffentlichte Lloyd Khan sein drittes Buch überalternative Architektur und es wurde über Nacht ein Bestseller,der das Leben einer ganzen Generation veränderte.  Es war SHELTER (ISBN0936070-11-0) ein anarchistisches Beispiel über selbstgebackenem Eigenheime der ganzen Welt.  Maureen sah eine Kopie im COMPENDIUM BOOKS,die legendäre Buchhandlung in der Camden High Street (London).  Und von da an wussten wir,was wir für den Rest unseres Lebens machen wollten.

Mehr Titel sind seitdem erschienen.  Alle genauso inspirierend.  Auch HOME WORK/ Handbuilt Shelter (2004, ISBN978-036070-52-0) und TINY HOMES/ Simple Shelter (2012, ISBN978-0936070-52-0) die beide ein Muss sind, für alle die Interresse an besonderer, einfacher Architektur haben.

Aber noch wichtiger:éin seit 44 Jahren existierendes Buch ist das SMALL HOMES/ The Right Size (2017,  ISBN 978-0-936070-68-1) heißt.  Und dieses Mal haben sich die Rollen umgekehrt und El Pocito wird vorgestellt.  Das ist die größte Anerkennung die Maureen und ich uns nur wünschen konnten.

Du kannst dir selbst eine Kopie machen aber bitte.  Teile erst unsre Freude,indem du jedem den du kennst,bittest unsere Webseite zu besuchen,um selbst zu sehen wie wundervoll KLEIN und Einfach sein kann

https://elpocito.wordpress.com

(translation thanks to Babse Bippus)

 

En 1973 Lloyd Kahn publicó su tercer libro sobre la arquitectura alternativa y durante la noche se convirtiò en un best seller, a su vez cambiando la vida de una generación entera.  Esto fue el SHELTER (ISBN 0-936070-11-0), una mirada anárquica en ejemplos de autoconstrucciòn y colonizando todo el globo.  Maureen vio una copia en COMPENDIUM BOOKS, una librería legendaria en Camden High Street (Londres), y a partir de entonces sabíamos exactamente lo que íbamos a hacer con el resto de nuestras vidas.

Más tìtulos han aparecido desde entonces, todos igualmente inspiradores, incluso el HOME WORK/ Handbuilt Shelter (2004, ISBN 0-936070-33-1) y TINY HOMES/ Simple Shelter (2012, ISBN 978-0936070-52-0), que son ambos tanto una necesidad para cualquiera interesado en construcción autónoma y afincamientos alrededor del mundo.

Pero lo que es más importante 44 años despuès, hay otro SHELTER igual, SMALL HOMES/ The Right Size (2017, ISBN 978-0-936070-68-1).  Y esta vez los papeles han sido invertidos y El Pocito es uno de los presentados y destacados.  Sin duda el honor más alto que Maureen y yo podríamos haber deseado nunca.

Obviamente se tiene que poner una copia, pero primero por favor COMPARTIR nuestra alegría diciendo a todos a quienes conocen que visiten nuestra página de internet y vean cómo algo tan pequeño y simple puede ser tan hermoso:

https://elpocito.wordpress.com

(translation thanks to Emilio Romero Márquez & Jetske Brand)

 

 

barn-hens

… or how we need to start developing a real sense of perspective, or perish.

What got me started on this one will probably seem rather silly, but it made me laugh and I think makes a valid point.  It’s about a friend of a friend here, english though has lived in Spain for many years, and recently moved to Nerja, which is a popular spot for expats near Malaga.  He is your typical brit flat-earther type, refuses to believe there is any other culture.  On this occasion he was trying to order a take-out from a local eatery, and in order to facilitate this he used the usual form of communication when dealing with foreigners, enunciate each word slowly, at considerable volume, while reinforcing by gesticulation of the fingers.  Hence the title, F-O-U-R   R-O-A-S-T  C-H-I-C-K-E-N-S.  Oh yes, there really are (very many) people who actually believe english is an international language.  What made this even funnier (for me) was the person it was addressed to turned out to be english.  This may be Spain but in Malaga it is as rare as hens teeth to find a native living/ working there.

Perhaps you had to know him to get it.  Nonetheless what he typifies is a very real issue.  That no matter how many experiences we have, or the passage of time, we don’t change how we see the world.  Two people can even witness exactly the same event and yet still see it in different ways.  This is a big problem, especially in the wealthier parts of the world.  With such a distorted perception, combined with an extremely inflated sense of self-worth (as a species), we are actually fooling ourselves that we are good for the planet, even when the plain facts say we are the most destructive force ever.

It hasn’t always been like this.  If it were possible to turn the clock back just 10,000 years and look at a satellite photo of the world as it was then, the most striking difference would be the complete absence of any evidence of our existence.  Yet we had been around by then for three million years.  okay there were only about 5 million of us, but surely there would be something to see?  Apparently not, because throughout that time we existed in totally harmony with all other forms of life.

Of course after that things started to change.  Instead of being nomadic/ aboriginal we started to settle, permanently, and the effect of this was that forests, which had until then covered most of the surface of the planet, were clear-felled to provide the materials for this new form of culture.  And by the time the Industrial Revolution came along, our numbers had increased dramatically, to 795 million.  A mere two hundred and fifty years later (now), to 7.4 billion.

Looking at satellite photos now, all that diverse lushness has disappeared, replaced instead by millions of tiny brick and concrete cages, where we now live out our short impoverished lives, imprisoned by debt to provide golden eggs for our masters.  Surrounded by a patchwork of non-organic fields growing our feed.  There is no longer a single example of that primeval forest left (which incidentally was there to give this planet life).  We have made 99% of all other species extinct.  We have contaminated everything (soil/ air/ water) with chemicals and radiation (from nuclear testing/ nuclear power station emissions/ and nuclear accidents), which will remain deadly for at least 2000 years.  And now the oceans are dying too.

The rate at which all this is happening (consuming/ reproducing/ destroying/ spending) is increasing by the second.  Exponentially.  This means it is so fast it is impossible to calculate when the remaining resources (those that provide us with life) will be used up, but given that this has all happened in less than 0.3% of our total time on the planet it can surely only be a matter of a few years.

Why can’t we see this?  Why hasn’t our natural instinct for self-preservation kicked in?  Why?  Because we are no longer able to think for ourselves, trust our own innate senses.  In fact none of what we know, believe in (our views/ values/ attitudes) is actually true.  It has all been drilled into us by the state/ royalty/ big business, to suit their needs/ motives.  The only way we can escape that conditioning is to disconnect from their channels of persuasion: internet/ tv/radio/ newspapers, believe nothing you are told and only half of what you see for yourself, and flee the social pressures from living among the un-dead.

Which is what we did.  Found a place as free as possible from any kind of human pollution, tune out and reconnect with nature and our natural selves again.  Which hasn’t been easy, it is not that simple to just cut off completely and rediscover senses that were cauterised at birth.  But this week I had an incredible breakthrough.  Eight years ago (to the day almost), when we first came to see El Pocito, I thought Maureen was mad to think this was the place for us.  How?  The entire six acres was totally devoid of vegetation, nothing whatsoever was growing, it was a desert.  But she was adamant, so we set about doing what we could to improve it.  All that land, and on a steep hillside, is a very big area (25,000m2) to do anything with, so to focus our limited resources we started with just one acre, and forgot about the rest.  This bit got all our experience, of all the previous gardens and isms that had come and gone over the previous 25 years, plus lots of love.  And gradually it has responded.  Still a way to go, but it is noticeably greener now and trees when they are grown from seed then planted out don’t die so much anymore.  Meanwhile in the other five acres, a miracle has been going on without us knowing.  Left totally alone (including no annual brush-cutting, or “cleaning” as they like to call it here) a total regeneration has taken place.  What was once like a desert is now lush and full of diversity.  Seeds which had lain dormant for decades have now decided it is time to germinate and despite the predators have grown.  There are even trees as high as 5m.  It is like a miniature Eden.  I, without any effort or money, have discovered what Science and Progress miss consistently, Nature knows best.

We are not custodians of this planet.  We are not intelligent.  What we are (have become) is no more than battery chickens.  Pecking at each other on Facebook, developing unsocial behaviour with armaments, living in a totally unnatural environment, fed on the cheapest crap, to die pointlessly and early, just to provide an income for someone else.

250 years we’ve been caged like this.  Duped into believing Science/ Progress know best.  60 years of the organic movement/ industry doing likewise.  When in reality nothing has been done to improve our damage to the precious ecology, or replace the trillions of other species we have killed for no good reason.  Unless we wake up soon and realise this, we will all be roast chickens.

51U9SeXTdtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

In town there is a shop which sells virtually everything, including tickets for the state lottery.  I’ve never bought one of these, but watching those who do has become a fascinating insight into the current psyche of the populous today.

It seems to have gripped everyone, including the long-term unemployed (who here don’t have the benefit of a welfare state) and the super rich (of which Almonaster numbers more than average).  Which on one hand is crazy, because statistically we all know no-one actually wins (at least more than they spend), but it is also easy to see why.  Ask anyone, they will say without hesitation, it is because they feel they neither have sufficient money or happiness.

They are also obsessed about illness.  The local surgery here even beats the bar as the place to hang out, so much so the council has had to install free wi-fi.

This however is not a city/ suburb/ or a blighted area.  We live among 182,000 hectares of incredibly unspoilt countryside, where the pigs outnumber people.  Almonaster is the friendliest town I’ve ever come across.  And where else is it possible to live well on virtually no income.  So what is creating all this discord?

As it happens I am reading an excellent book at the moment, A PLACE OF REFUGE – An experiment in communal living – the story of Windsor Hill Wood by Tobias Jones.  One of the answers he proposes is that we are currently in denial about our rural past, we don’t want to go back to what we consider were the bad old days, working with our hands and living off the land.  Here that is certainly the case, hand-in-hand with wanting to forget all about the Franco era, which only finished in 1975 and then took another 20 years for them to begin to catch up with the rest of Europe.  Behind it all I would claim social media and advertising as the major cause.  That holy triumvirate of royalty/ state/ & business, who are the real ones behind how we are allowed to live/ think/ and feel.  Not in a scary dictatorial way this time, but subtly/ unconsciously, by polarizing us into becoming ever more selfish and less communal/ less physically connected to nature/ and more focussed instead on their proscribed narrow and infinitely controllable virtual reality.  Which they use to induce I us fear/ anxiety/ and unrest, as a means of compliance, and then offer their products/ services to assuage it.  Hence the beauty of the lottery, which incidentally makes them an obscene amount of profit EACH and EVERY DAY, where for as little as a euro you can feel normal again for a few hours while deciding how to spend those winnings (even if 50% will be taken back in tax).

We are being controlled like lab rats.  The lottery is a scam.  As is the illness thing.  Or at least what they are selling us (the current trend is we are dying younger).  Products which calm and reassure, allow us to continue our toxic lifestyle unfettered, and of course live healthily and happily forever.  All total crap of course, but for most people now that’s all they have left to believe in, they no longer want to take back the responsibility for their own life.

These are the hard facts.  There is no diet which will counteract an unhealthy lifestyle.  Supplements have no benefits whatsoever (even if a quarter of the UK believes they do), possibly the opposite.  And most certain of all, organic now means nothing.

Because everything you buy is a con.  The only reason ANY product (or service) exists is because someone somewhere came up with an idea to make money.  Nothing else.  And to do this they will use the cheapest materials, cut corners, poison the planet, fatally harm those who produce and labour for them, and of course downright lie/ cheat wherever necessary.  Including labelling ingredients as organic when in virtually all cases they will have been grown/ sourced using conventional/ chemical/genetically modified/ non-organic methods.  Wake up.  This is the real world.  Just follow the path of anything if you don’t believe me and discover for yourself.

Nothing we buy or eat (even grown ourselves), or the way we live, is actually healthy or good for us, or any of the other species.  We simply wish it was.  We were never designed or evolved to be like this.  Ask your parents/ grandparents, read about what life was like just two hundred years ago.  We have to wake up and see what we are doing to ourselves and the planet.  Stop this crazy addiction now, before it is too late not just for us but the rest of the planet.

n290314

Here’s another classic on the theme of living a more simple life.

Though the idea for this blog actually comes from something that happened yesterday, while getting on with the daily task of trying to market El Pocito to a suitable buyer.  Working my way through the infinite number of Facebook pages and groups, I came across yurts.  Not something I thought there would be much about, maybe a few makers, but turns out this is a whole new sub-culture which goes by the name of glamping (remember I don’t have access to the media).  Apparently Portugal and many parts of Spain are now covered in them.  Which in turn answered another perennial question, how do all these people who have suddenly emigrated from the wealthier parts of Europe, to Iberia (and cheaper), survive financially?  Money, pots of it.  They come, build an instant showcase organic smallholding, then as soon as possible run holidays and courses from them.  Which is fine, I have no objection to that.  But what gets me is they labelled this enterprise as organic/ ecological/ sustainable/ or some other green ism.  And that is not right.  In the same way claiming to be a vegetarian/ vegan/ frutarian (or whatever) doesn’t help save any animals or plants.

What am I talking about?  Sustainable/ self-sufficient/ being compassionate about other species, can only be achieved when you remove money and reproduction from the equation, anything else is simply a distraction.

The book charts the life of a family from the end of the Second World War until 1981.  Who by choice leave London to be closer to nature, and how that requires sacrifices.  For example nine years without running water, and forty years with only enough income to live a day at a time.  And which they revel in.  Such a refreshing read, especially today, when everyone is so fixated on what they haven’t got, it should be prescribed instead of antidepressants.  I found it a real tonic, especially with all the people contacting me about El Pocito, wanting to buy something ready-made, it is getting me down.  A life like this is an ongoing process, not an instant fix to sell off (at a massive profit) once the novelty wears off.  A place where you put down roots and there is no rush.

Two other things struck me recently also.

What happened to all the concern about mobile phone masts?  When they first appeared (1G?) there were public campaigns to remove them from schools and places where people would be subject to radiation for hours at a stretch.  Now we have wi-fi in our homes, 24 hours a day, and the intensity is up to 5G, probably several tens or hundreds of times more harmful.

And the other is, don’t wait until it is too late.  Many of those contacting me recently are 50+ and finally in a position where the mortgage is paid off.  They are desperate to escape the craziness of urban living, but now find they lack the courage to make a move.  Do not be afraid.  You are only middle-aged, plenty of time left to acclimatise and settle into a better way of life.  Go for it.

9781490569819-us-300

What is worth knowing about self-sufficiency and sustainability has already been published, so why duplicate this precious legacy of wisdom, destroy even more of our precious ecology, lining the pockets of eco-parasites.  This book by William Cobbett, written in 1821, is as apt/ witty today as then.  Get yourself a (second hand) copy rather than inflate any more egos.

cuviers-beaked-whale

In the North Sea a Cuvier Beaked Whale (total world population: 100,000) had to be put down because it was starving to death.  Afterwards it was found to have ingested at least 30 plastic bags, blocking its intestines.

71% of the surface of the planet is water, and much of it is so deep it has not been unexplored.  Yet despite that, in less than 100 years we as a species have managed to dump so much toxic waste into this precious and infinite resource (compared to the space we 7.4 billion occupy), that the life forms who dwell there are now facing extinction because they cannot avoid eating/ being contaminated by all our crap.

We meanwhile continue to believe life goes on as normal.

This week I have been reading the excellent (and recommended) BROTHER TO THE OX – The Autobiography of a Farmer’s Boy by Fred Kitchen.  In it he writes about his experience of agriculture in England at the beginning of the twentieth century.  His diet then, to keep him going for twelve hours (or more) a day, six days a week, being: breakfast – boiled bacon + milk, lunch – boiled beef + vegetables + yorkshire pud + ale, evening meal – boiled bacon + bread & butter + tea.  All of which was produced on the same farm (except the tea), grown without inputs/ chemicals, and compared to what we eat/ farm today the nearest thing to a sustainable way of life.  There was also zero waste/ pollution.

Whales still behave live like this, as do all other living things.  All except for us.

Also this week I finally made a visit to a newly opened supermarket in a nearby town, as it is a luxury when normally all we have in Almonaster la Real is the equivalent of the corner shop.  And inside it was indeed like an Aladdin’s Cave.  There were literally thousands of different “foods” to buy.  Yet instead of being a pleasant experience, my reaction was horror.  Because not one of these things was actually what could be considered as real food.  Let alone sustainable.  It was all tainted/ poisoned in some way.  Everything we buy is now.  Because that is how food (as a business) is produced now.  Even organic.  Even the wholesome food we grow ourselves.  Our planet is like the sea, polluted by our greed.

No-one wants to hear this, or about sea-life dying.  They want to continue buying this crap, be able to forget the consequence, and when they get ill rely on the Health Service to make them well again.  While the sea fills up with the packaging/ waste until there is nothing left alive there, and the landmass likewise.

High time to start doing something positive instead of believing others always know better.

the-forest-garden-greenhouse

I unashamedly believe the system of compulsory (anything) education was flawed right from the beginning.  And it hasn’t improved any since (why else would Spain have the highest unemployment in Europe who are also graduates/ masters/ and postgraduates?).  So surely it is high time now to get rid of it completely?  I wish.  However this isn’t going to happen (who else is going to childmind them all?), so what about a compromise, for the sake of those who currently have to endure this pointless torture, in order that they at least stand some chance of surviving the impending holocaust Trump/ May/ Putin/ and Xi Jinping are hurtling us all towards.

I therefore propose getting rid of all PE/ sports in the curriculum, and replacing it instead with food production.  Pupils converting every spare inch outside their classrooms (including further afield in the community too) so they can learn everything about growing healthy nourishment, sustainably, along with the other skills necessary for when the current social infrastructure finally collapses.

The prison service implemented this a long time ago.  Projects working with people who have learning difficulties nearly 100 years ago.  It also retains all the elements of providing exercise that PE was created for, but more comprehensively and naturally.  As well as making perfect financial sense.  Not forgetting too, it adds yet another facet to local food security, an issue which could become key even sooner than we think.

Simple, neat, so why hasn’t it been implemented before?

(photo: Jerome Osentowski, author of THE FOREST GARDEN GREENHOUSE)

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross in flight - Inger Vandyke

Consider for example the (Indian nosed yellow) Albatross.  Weighing in at no more than 2.5kg, yet possesses a wingspan of 6.5ft, with which it can lift off the sea without even a beat, just face into the wind.  And once airborne soar for 1000km, again without any further physical effort, travelling up to 10 000kms between meals.

The albatross also has a lifespan of up to 60 years.

Given all that, how do we compare?

Well we can’t fly for starters, and any other kind of locomotion seems to be getting harder and harder by the minute (here the locals even drive the few tens of metres between house/ school/ shops/ and bars).  We need feeding a lot more, usually by others, and with a constant variety of products, most of which need to be grown specially, usually in other countries then shipped in/ a lifetime of regularly updated clothing/ 24hr entertainment and electronic contact with each other/ work/ money/ accommodation/ heating/ sets of rules/ languages/ border controls and citizenship/ plus a whole host of other stuff too.

And for all that are we any happier/ useful than the lowly albatross?

I’m reading an excellent book right now (a Christmas present from friends in my favourite english town, LEWES).  It’s called STATION ELEVEN by Emily St John Mandel.  And not only is about what happens after a survivalist scenario (my full-time obsession), but illustrates how crazy our current way of life has got.  Here’s one example:

“…adulthood’s full of ghosts.”  “I’m talking about these people who’ve ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed.  Do you know what I mean?   They’ve done what’s expected of them.  They want to do something different but it’s impossible now there’s a mortgage, kids, whatever, they’re trapped.”  “I think people like (that) think work is supposed to be drudgery punctuated by very occasional moments of happiness, but when I say happiness I mostly mean distraction.  You know what I mean?”  “Okay, say you go into the break room… and a couple people you like are there, say someone’s telling a funny story, you laugh a little, you feel included, everyone’s so funny, you go back to your desk with a sort of, I don’t know, I guess afterglow would be the word?  You go back to your desk with an afterglow, but then by four or five o’clock the day’s just turned into yet another day, and you go on like that, looking forward to five o’clock and then the weekend and then your two or three annual weeks of paid vacation time, day in day out, and that’s what happens to your life.”

Another example it highlights is when there is no longer electricity or fuel (petrol can only be stored for a year).  Everything which makes us who we are now simply disappears.  Along with all the waste and senseless destruction of the ecology to produce it.  We have become blinded by gadgetry.

I’ve also been reading about Scotland (my spiritual homeland), helping a friend with his english in return for internet time.  This week it was about the fishing industry.  Apparently, until well into the eighteenth century there was no such thing as commercial fishing, people fished yes, but only took what they could eat fresh for themselves, not as a means of making money, as there was no means of preserving or transporting it.  That was only 150 years ago.  Since then we’ve gone mad, and taken out (or poisoned) virtually everything edible in the world’s oceans, destroying forever that which had remained until then sustainable for millions of years.

Personally I would prefer the simple life.  Here’s hoping the apocalypse happens soon.

hitchhikers-guide01

Where were you on the 8th of March 1978?

I was at the Head Gardener’s Cottage in Stockwell College, Bromley.  Partaking, with a select group of final year students, of an herb grown in the manicured grounds of that hallowed place.  While listening to a new five-part series on the radio called THE HITCH-HIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.

Never before had the world heard anything quite like it (RED DWARF came much later).

Now, nearly 40 years later, I am re-reading the book (which was published the following year), and have been struck by the pure genius of its creator, DOUGLAS ADAMS.  Who was no less than a genius.

Not only for the way he could stand apart from all the crap we are all fed with by the mediums of the media, and construct our own small worlds with it, but he could foresee the internet and mobile phones before most people could even imagine them.

Here are some choice quotes (my additions in brackets) from it:

“This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time.  Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches (mobile phones).”

“… he also had a device which looked rather like a largish electronic calculator.  This had about a hundred tiny flat press buttons (Apps) and a screen about four inches square on which any one of a million “pages” could be summoned at a moment’s notice.  It looked insanely complicated, and this was one of the reasons why the snug plastic cover it fitted into had the words DON’T PANIC printed on it in large friendly letters”.

“The President in particular is very much a figurehead – he wields no real power whatsoever.  He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage.  For this reason the President is always a controversial choice.  His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it.  On those criteria Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the most successful Presidents of the Galaxy has ever had – he has already spent two of his ten Presidential years in prison for fraud.  Very very few people realise that the President and the Government have virtually no power at all, and of those few people only six know whence ultimate political power is wielded.  Most of the others secretly believe that the ultimate decision-making process is handled by a computer.  They couldn’t be more wrong.”

“One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very obvious, as in IT’S A NICE DAY, or YOU’RE VERY TALL, or OH DEAR YOU SEEM TO HAVE FALLEN DOWN A THIRTY-FOOT WELL, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?  At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour.  If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up.  After a few months he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one.  If they don’t keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.  After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical and decided he quite liked human beings after all, but he always remained desperately worried about the terrible number of things they didn’t know about.”

“There are of course many problems connected with life, of which some of the most popular are WHY ARE PEOPLE BORN?  WHY DO THEY DIE?  WHY DO THEY WANT TO SPEND SO MUCH OF THE INTERVENING TIME WEARING DIGITAL WATCHES (using mobile phones)?”

swimmingcity1

This is a post inviting no comment (which means I will delete if necessary), merely a statement of what happened to me and what I now know to be true.  It is for you to decide or act on the information.  I would like to say however, for those who think my outlook tends towards the doom and gloom end of the spectrum, that Samuel Beckett, when similarly charged, an offence he firmly denied, arguing that those who are labelled pessimists are actually the true optimists – for were it not for their belief that the world, however awful, could be improved, they would not bother raising the issues.  Optimists, he added, are the true pessimists, in that they are so convinced the situation is beyond repair, all they can do is pretend there is nothing wrong with it.

Throughout life, if you are lucky, strange and wonderful things will happen, some of which are not only unique and amazing, but totally unexplainable.  This has happened to me several times, including seeing my doppelgänger (sadly only fleetingly, but close enough, also confirmed by several others sightings by friends).  Though the most impressive happened twenty-five years ago, and it was so bizarre that it changed our lives, totally.  It was on a dark winter night, when we were still living deep in the North Yorkshire countryside.  There was a knock at the door, and outside a stranger, who asked for us by name then introduced himself as from a group who wanted to save the species from imminent extinction.  I won’t go into more detail, but he/ they believed the planet was about to wipe us out by an inundation from the sea.  A select few though would be allowed to survive, those thought most likely to be a positive force in the future.  As to how or when this would happen, no more was known.  If we wanted to survive then we should move immediately to SW Europe, find a place there at a height of not least than 600m above sea-level, and wait.  Which is exactly what we did, though until now told no-one else because it was so bizarre.  Even writing this now makes it read like a visitation from aliens, but the man proved to be perfectly human and genuine.

Nothing did happen as it turned out, but in the interim we discovered many other people who shared the same belief (including the writers Sheri S Tepper and Ronald Wright), which makes me think all life-forms must be able to tap into a collective consciousness.  And then this week a friend, who is working with NASA satellite mapping the rate of melt at the polar ice-caps, filled in the missing “how” and “when”.  Within four years all the ice will have gone.  The sea-level will increase by 50 metres (there is an online map of the world to discover what this means for you – http://geology.com/sea-level-rise/).  The rest is unknown.

As I said, I am not inviting comment about this, merely posting it to repay an act of unsolicited kindness/ trust shown to us 25 years ago.  Passing on the word to save others, as none of the world’s media/ governments seem interested.  It is your choice.

ps.  Now we know why BREXIT was invented. A smokescreen/ diversion from what is really going on.

raptors-2

This weekend Almonaster la Real celebrated its annual festival of Islam – XVII Jornadas de Cultura Islámica.  Three days in which the narrow winding Moorish streets are transformed into an ancient medina (Zoco), full of stalls selling crafts and food, musicians/ dancers/ and performers providing the entertainment.  Folk flocking in from far and wide to enjoy the unique atmosphere.

Of which, one of the regular attractions is a display of raptors.  This year set out amidst all the other stalls.  Composed of three perches, each with three live examples tethered firmly.  The thronging/ noisy crowds passing just a few feet away.  And behind, the church, whose deafening bells add to the general din every hour.

These sideshows are often at such events (even in the UK), no doubt as an attempt to create a sense/ flavour of the past, along with archery, though falconry was/ is only ever a sport for the very rich.  Displaying live animals (even in zoos) has always disgusted me, and this time it was no different, there were also three very obviously disturbed camels, brought in to add to the ambiance, paraded back and forth endlessly by their owners.  Keeping any animal in captivity is cruel, but when it is done purely for profit/ publicity doubly so.  Not that anyone else seems to think so.  The local council promotes bull fighting.  Local businesses slaughter an alleged three million pigs a year for the ham industry.  Horses and donkeys are treated so badly at Romerias they have to be slaughtered.  The list is endless.

But what caught my attention this time was the audience.  How they are also an equal part of this bizarre freak show.  On one hand they are genuinely drawn to these creatures, as if this could be the only time in their lives they would see them or get so close.  Yet simultaneously without feeling the slightest respect for them or their predicament.  It made me think, “who is it that is actually on show here?”

Because it seems the audience were the ones who were the more ridiculous.  Compared to these wonderful creatures of nature, they have absolutely no point.  Clad in a hideous array/ assemblage of outfits and decoration.  Spending their precious lives driving aimlessly around the country to waste precious life at horrible exhibitions of torture like these, plus sate on what has to be the most pitiful collection of wares by the assembled vendors I’ve ever seen.  We are the real exhibits.  Life at the lowest end of the food/ developmental chain.  Our brains totally burnt out from a diet of mass-media and processed food.  Totally unaware of what we are supposed to be here for.  What is good or bad.  And if anything is endangered here, it is us.

It made me think of how many of these people could survive like those birds, by foraging or killing their own food?  Always eating it raw?  Create their own shelter, without tools and from what is just available naturally?  Care for themselves, especially when sick or injured?  Let alone regulate giving birth according to the food supply?  We have become a species which has lost the skills to live, serviced and dependent totally on others.  How stupid is that?

In the summer of 2000 there was a national strike of petrol tanker drivers in the UK.  At that time we were living near York, and by the end of the first day all the supermarkets had sold out of food.  Had this continued, say for a month, there would have been millions of deaths nationwide.  If the electricity grid ever stopped there would be no water supply and the deaths would be a lot quicker.

Yet we each endure at least eleven years of full-time education, many far more, without gaining any of the basic tools for survival or the slightest idea of what it means to be sustainable.  What kind of education is that?

High time to change our ways.  We have to develop a respect for all living things.  Stop using them to feed on.  Stop destroying their habitats for our gain.  And above all, teach everyone how to survive.  Not with money, by paying others, but working with nature sustainably.

 

(ps the photo was taken late on the last day, two of the birds had been removed by then)

30405

Despite finding what must be the largest variety and membership of environmental groups (in the world), I have yet to come across one mention in any of their postings that there is another living soul who understands what is happening to the planet, and therefore the concept of SUSTAINABILITY.  Incredible.

How is this, especially when even a small child can grasp the complexities of a mobile or laptop?

How can the most ardent/ intelligent environmentalists fail to grasp even the simplest of concepts, ie how the eco-system works?

So for them, and indeed everyone else it seems, here is my latest attempt to make it plain and simple for anyone:

RULE NUMBER ONE.  When you take something out (of the eco-system), ie spend or buy anything, you have to put it back, ie re-plant or replace with like.  Not a part, but all.  Or, as Rudolf Steiner describes (far better): each family should have its own plot of land, a place where they live and work at growing everything they need.  And with that then nothing is required to be brought in (bought), or taken out (sold).

It’s the same as having a bank account, you need to put money in to be able to make withdrawals, except in this case there is no option for an overdraft or credit.

RULE NUMBER TWO.  The planet is not ours for the taking.  It is a highly complex (far too complex for our simple brains to understand) inter-dependency between an infinite number of diverse species and their populations, where the sum total is what provides everything with the necessities for existence.  In our case: air to breathe/ water to drink/ food to sustain us/ shelter and warmth.  If we attempt to interfere with this in any way (reduce other species populations, destroy habitats, increase our population beyond its set level) then we are affecting its function.  Or to be more specific, acting as we are now, clubbing it into extinction.

This is such simple stuff.  Yet still not a soul gets it.  I bet no-one reading this has ever put anything back, let alone even realised you had to.  This makes single-celled creatures more intelligent than us.  At least none of them would ever destroy the means that gives them life.

So next time you go to spend money (any money, even if it is just on a coffee)/ congratulate a friend or relative on their pregnancy/ boast about what you’ve just acquired or been to on holiday/ how green or vegetarian or vegan or raw your lifestyle is.  STOP right there.  And for a moment (at least) consider how stupid all this has got.  Do you really want the end of the world to happen this year?  Or next?  Because that is how close it has got already.  And don’t imagine anyone in power is interested, they’ve already got their future assured (elsewhere), you are just their means of paying for it.  If we really want to have a life beyond the end of the year, next year, then we have to start back on a path to true SUSTAINABILITY.  A way of living where we fit in once again.  Our global population has to be reduced (to a maximum of 5 million), the infinite number of other species (and their sustainable populations) we have destroyed have to be replaced, and from then on we must live lightly on the planet.  Being thick won’t help anyone.

truly-madly-deeply

When Maureen was alive, three of our favourite films (which for us meant being watchable over and over again infinitely, and such a thing does exist, they are called classics) were SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, TRULY MADLY DEEPLY, and DAN IN REAL LIFE.  But what I didn’t realise at the time was the common theme linking them, bereavement.  Strange but true.  Somehow it was possible to enjoy it as much for everything else.  Then she died and I saw for the first time how important that part was to the whole.  It seems until we personally experience death then we haven’t the slightest idea how it will affect us thereafter.

Watching TMD was especially wonderful in the weeks/ months/ then slowly years after she left.  As it allowed me to believe in the possibility that at some point she would feel my distress, come back (along with a complete orchestra of new friends, though please not to play Bach, Haydn instead, far more soulful), and together work on finding a new partner/ life.  But she didn’t.  And there weren’t any other (of the expected) signs that she had gone to another place.  Except that is, against all the odds, I survived.  In a totally foreign country.  Not being able to speak a word of the language (after 13 years!).  No job (no benefits either).  Two bad falls off my mountain bike (which still hurt).  Being bitten twice by a Staffordshire bull terrier.  Alone in a house in the middle of a forest, two kilometres from the nearest other inhabitant.  And no connection to any of the usual services.

Only Maureen could have kept me safe through all that.  Guided Pauline to find her way here, all the way from Shetland.

Anyway, to get to the nub (I currently have a backlog of ideas for blogs), since then two even stranger things have happened, to convince me that yes we do live on after death.

The first concerns how we soon forget our partner after they have gone.  For despite photos going back 35 years, a recent video, and a radio interview, within weeks I could no longer summon up how it used to feel with her being here.  Then recently she re-appeared.  In my dreams.  Maureen as she is now (not a memory), and where I can be with her as in real life.  Albeit only when asleep and when she is there.  Proving that people do live on after they die, at least as long as those who remember them remain, and hopefully to stay as long as you want.

The other one is more spooky.  People who have known me a long time will understand that when I say I used to be a recluse/ sociopath, this is no understatement.  When we lived in North Yorkshire whole months could pass when I never felt the need to leave the village.  Employers always found me impossible to work with (in one I lasted only an hour before being escorted from the premises).  Then after Maureen died I suddenly had this feeling that vast parts of my personality had never had the chance to develop.  And gradually, bit by bit came out of my shell, metamorphosed, becoming the person I am now, a completely new version.  One with all the good bits added that Maureen left for me to adopt.  A love of learning the new language.  Enjoying being with people.  Writing blogs.  Assertive with shopkeepers/ petty officials/ tradespeople.  Persevering until something is resolved.  All in all, being a lot happier about things.  Yet at the same time a lot more confident to take on things that aren’t fair/ just.

That’s it.  Short, but I hope will help anyone who is currently experiencing the same event.

 

australian-rainforest-at-late-afternoon-800x430

wisdom:  the quality of being wise/ judgement/ right use of knowledge/ spiritual perception.

sustainable: the infinite number of diverse species along with their predetermined populations, plus the inert natural resources of our planet, which working together create and sustain conditions for all life.

 

This latest outpouring is a mixture of continuing the theme from my previous post, and an inspired thought prompted during breakfast in a bar with my good friend Jose Joaquin.

Starting with what I now consider to be the litmus test of wisdom, especially when it comes to understanding sustainability, and recognising that it is the primary duty of each of us to put back at least as much as we take out of the eco-system, which can be defined by how much you spend and where you live.  For example, here are the two extremes.  On one hand you have the Queen of England.  And on the other, a tribal leader of an indigenous community in the remotest part of the world.

Both rule over their people, because they are considered to be the wisest for that role.  The first lives in a place that has almost zero day-to-day exposure to the natural world and believes that all the necessities of life and its problems can be resolved by having enough money (she is after all the world expert on this subject, allegedly being the richest person on the planet).  The other , living totally in the natural world has no understanding of the concept of money and believes all the necessities of life and its problems are to be found in the immediate living landscape around them.

These are the two extremes, the rest of us being somewhere in-between.

If you live in the third world for example, you will be very aware of protecting the immediate natural  environment around you, as it provides shelter/ food/ water/ clothing/ heating etc.  Whereas if you live in the UK for example (the majority) will do nothing to protect it, because all your needs are being met by someone else.  In fact ecologically speaking the UK is probably one of the least sustainable places on the planet.  It is grossly overpopulated by a single species (us) and what others used to exist there, both in type and populations, have now been reduced to a handful of zoo specimens.  It is no better than a theme park, where the inhabitants, having wiped out everything else are now taking from the rest of planet without putting anything back.

This was brought home to me by a comment from the administrator of the TONBRIDGE AND MALLING GREEN PARTY Facebook Group, who said that technology and economic development (spending money in other words) are all that is needed us to save us from imminent extinction, there is no need to de-populate, and anyway the UK is not the problem, it is the third world countries we need to point the finger at.  And all the while using the word “sustainable” yet not making a single mention of any of the other species in this plan.  This I am afraid is the classic example of human-centric thinking/ craziness.  It is not all about us, nor are we omnipotent.  We only exist because of the sustainablity factor (see again at top).  And if we want to set an example to the rest of the world then the UK (along with all the other wealthy countries) have to de-populate homo sapiens presence, while repopulating all the other species.  For the UK I would take a wild guess at down to several thousand of us instead of the 60 odd million at the moment.  It sounds totally crazy I know, but try and think about it from the perspective of the sustainable indigenous person living in a primordial rainforest.  Our population density, our dependency for everything from others (taking out but not putting the same back), and money, is equally absurd.  We are great at theorising but have zero practical experience at living sustainably.  They are also the only example we have now of how things might have been before we started to ransack the planet for profit and power.

The other profound thought I had was about tv, the media in general.  I haven’t had a set (what they used to be called) for 25 years, don’t read newspapers, don’t listen to the radio (since the PP took over here), consequently am particularly sensitive when I catch whatever is on in the bar or in homes of friends.  Particularly the 24hr news format.  Here we are, in a world with at least 7.4 billion news stories every day, and the only ones that get reported are those which are sad/ depressing and about people we can easily identify with.  How and why is that news?  What about the daily death toll from hunger/disease/ and genocide in third world countries?  Because quite simply it serves to makes us feel better about our own (miserable) lives.  We are addicted to hearing about other’s (like us)misfortune.  Or on a more subliminal/ Max Headroom level, it also maintains the all-important state of collective fear, which our leaders/ vested business interests rely on to keep us on the path that maintains their power and wealth.

Finally, a postscript.  Since I posted about the sale of El Pocito I’ve been getting messages most days from people who wish they could have this kind of life, but feel it is too late or impossible.  This is so sad, because it is so not the case.  There are ways anyone can reduce their dependency on money and be part of the species that puts back as much as it takes out of the eco-system.  I had hoped Maureen’s (free download) book TREAD SOFTLY BECAUSE YOU TREAD ON MY DREAMS would be enough to dispel all those doubts, but the reality is people are becoming more fearful.  They might consider themselves more adventurous/ dynamic/ individual/ and self-motivated than ever before, but when it comes to doing anything about changing their daily lives and expectations it is the total opposite.

see-no-evil

My rant this week was sparked by the closure of yet another small shop in town (along with a nunnery, but that’s for lack of new nuns), followed by talking to the daughter of one of the few businesses left, where you can get everything (groceries and hardware) within walking distance of your front door.  The sudden decline being due to a national chain of supermarkets (Mercadona) opening about 8kms away.  Enticing customers with its newness, size, free parking (the spanish hate to walk anywhere), and the notion that they are a lot cheaper and have a much wider choice.  Neither of the last two being actually true, but hard not to get sucked in by.

So she’s begun a campaign on Facebook, with a page for her father’s shop (https://www.facebook.com/latiendade.alfonso?fref=ts) to try and reverse the tide.

This got me thinking about what they actually do offer in these vast ugly out-of-town sheds, and whether it is actually as claimed.  Or to be honest it was balsamic vinegar.  Too expensive to be available locally until Mercadona arrived, but makes a big difference to cooking, so now worth the treat every now and then.  Or so I thought.  Reading up on the subject (in the excellent Zingerman’s guide to good eating ISBN 0-395-92616-5)) it turns out Mercadona’s offering (or anyone else’s, in 98% of cases) is nothing more than a fake.  The only real one is from Modena (Italy), where they produce a limited amount so not surprisingly it costs a small fortune and never reaches the shelves of supermarkets.  What they are selling then is nothing more than a taste-alike, created by food scientists, using the cheapest (and possibly harmful) ingredients/ artificial flavourings possible (including that unholy trinity of sugar/ salt/ and vinegar).  With the added incentive it reaps them a fat profit over staple products, because they believe it is worth paying the extra.

Which led me to go through more of Mercadona’s offerings.  Their wide range of international cheeses for example, which currently include Cheddar/ Mozzarella/ Parmesan/ plus many others remembered from our Tesco days.  They are all fakes too.

On the opposite side of the same aisle is the delicatessen, another speciality/ high-priced area because the local Iberian Jambon pigs have spent their life roaming free in the countryside eating nothing but tasty acorns.  Or that’s what they claim.  Take a look around the Sierra.  How many pigs can you spot?  Certainly not anywhere close to the 3 million they claim to be slaughtering in Jabugo alone.  The only certainty is they met a grisly and painful end here, subsequently to be turned into ham, the rest was probably an even nastier existence imprisoned in a shed, somewhere in Eastern Europe, being fed/ dosed with nasties until they reached the required weight.

Then at the end of this aisle are the herbs and spices.  This one is easy, not one of them tastes or smells remotely like those grown wild.

I won’t bother going through the rest of the place, its more-or-less the same story.  Basically what these places are offering is a copy of the real thing, the Dollar Store/ £ shop/ Chinese or Moroccan experience.  Packed to the gunnels with choice, and all for next-to-nothing.  Which at Lidl, also includes organic.  Yet all are copies, very poor/ unhealthy ones too.

That’s just the food.  Most other stuff also turns out to be the same.  For which we have to thank the Chinese (again), who now produce counterfeits of everything.  An example being a pair of good-quality secateurs I bought recently, from Amazon (yes, I know).  But when used they didn’t feel right so as it wasn’t anything obvious I emailed the manufacturer to ask why.  They amazingly replied immediately, with the news that these are fake too.  This company has never sold through Amazon.

When you think about all of this, virtually everyone we deal with: public servants/ private companies (especially the utilities)/ doctors (particularly the drug companies)/ lawyers/ builders/ plumbers/ electricians/ garages, you name them, all lie or offer poor service when it suits them.  We just take it for granted now that this is how our (part of the) world works.

Newspapers are the same.  Freedom of the press, ha!  It’s a business, like any other, and they have vested interests.  As do all forms of the media.

So too do local councillors/ county councillors/ members of parliament/ ministers/ prime ministers and presidents.  They all say what we want to hear, even if it isn’t the truth.

Which in turn has created in us a sense of place that has become detached from reality, especially for those where there is little or no opportunity for actual contact with the making process or those who make.  And why people like me feel so isolated, because it is only us, those who exist self-sufficiently/ sustainably (out of the loop), who grow their own food, make what they need, or buy/ barter direct, who get to have now a true experience of things, as well as some kind of control over what they are eating.

Given all that then, the next question has to be: how on earth can anyone who exists in this fantasy world ever be trusted to make rational judgements about anything, let alone for the good of the planet?

almonaster-la-real-carlos-and-ismael

Enjoy watching international celebrity Michelin starred chefs MANOLO ANDAMIO and PATXI LAOSTIA (aka Carlos and Ismael) recreate local recipes from their grandmother’s kitchen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jctYSARlL-U).

An unforgettable video (even for those who don’t speak spanish) which finally puts Almonaster on the map where it so deservedly should be.

Please SHARE as widely as possible.

RoundHouse74

Stunned by the response to my last posting (as far as I know no-one read the previous one), I thought it best to quickly follow that up with something which has haunted me ever since A Level English.  It’s aimed at the tiny minority (of one, as I write, so they know who) that still don’t get it, choosing instead to believe in either their religion or government to stave off any possible global disaster.

It’s a book, PINCHER MARTIN by William Golding.  Set in World War II, aboard a destroyer, with just one character, the lookout.  Its night, and he fails to see in time a torpedo heading directly for the ship, to raise the alarm.  Consequently the boat goes down with all the crew, except for the lookout, who miraculously survives.  Eventually finding an outcrop of rock to drag himself up on, the rest of the book being about his survival.

Then right at the end we discover he also died in the explosion.  What we have read was a fantasy, the last few second until his brain died, desperately trying to create an imagined reality where there was no physical one.

The same effect is happening to us all right now.  The planet is dying, albeit slower, and we have switched from being practical beings (like all other species) to pure ego, in an attempt to survive/ pretend this isn’t happening.  Refusing to accept that three million years of sustainable behaviour was how we are meant to be, and instead following the crazy logic of a few power-mad zealots who have reigned over us for a mere couple of hundred years.

If we could chemically switch off this current ego mode and exist purely on id (instinct/ reality), then we would appreciate how stupid this is.  How unimportant we are in the grand scheme of things.  That we actually have no more right to live than any of all the other zillion species.  That this planet was never created for us.  But most significantly, that the diversity and populations of all those other species, especially the ones we have destroyed over the last 10,000 years, all need to be reinstated (including the reduction of ours) if we want to stand any chance of a future, not only for the children alive now, but having any more in the future.

gaia-symbol

Once again I’ve been struggling to write something and stymied by how to present it in a way that will break through that ever-expanding crust of mindless crap filling social media, while overcoming the collective inertia that prevents anyone taking personal responsibility for the state of the world today (other than to make pointless comments about it).  None of this helped by an average concentration level of just 140 characters, so already I’ve lost most of my potential audience.  But finally I think I might have something which will work.

It came to me last week.  A friend turned up here.  He’s from London’s East End, but has a place nearby as well.  It’s his personal retreat/ bolthole, somewhere to escape/ unwind in every few months.  And over the last sixteen years of owning it he’s got what was once another ruin in an abandoned hamlet into exactly what he needs.  Deep in the now empty and wild countryside of the Sierra, except for wild boar and nomadic goats.  No neighbours.  Just him and nature.  And inside the house, the same raw/ pared down effect.  Thick ancient whitewashed walls.  Similarly aged terracotta floor tiles.  And a series of rooms that follow on from each other, each with a few carefully selected pieces of furniture denoting current use.  To sleep, eat, or sit.  With an open fireplace to keep warm in the winter.  No electricity (not even solar), no bathroom.  It makes El Pocito seem palatial by comparison.

This time though he’s been talking about taking early retirement, and moving here permanently.  And with that the whole perfect perspective and balance of the place has suddenly been shifted, as two very different worlds collide and try to fit into the other.

I think what he has is perfect as it is.  It’s how I live and how everyone in rural Spain lived until relatively recently, very simply.  But apparently this is not sufficient for modern life, particularly for anyone coming from the UK.  They have needs, which apparently are mandatory now, in order to make a place deemed habitable.  Needs that have, it seems, been elevated to a status that is pure craziness.

For even just sixteen years ago (the same year we left the UK too) everyone in the UK had an equal (if higher) level of contentment.  Yet were then blissfully aware of the internet/ mobile phones were just that, a phone you could take with you, nothing more/ households would have only one car, maybe none, but rarely more/ televisions were still cathode ray, no flat screens/  DVDs hadn’t arrived, let alone been and gone/ a personal computer was little more than an extremely expensive way to play simple games or write a letter/ fashion was whatever you wanted (labels hadn’t caught on)/ most stuff you bought was from high-street shops, or very occasionally by phone/ information, other than what was available in newspapers, books, or the library, was available from subscribing to magazines/ second homes were for only the super-rich/ and holidays once a year.

Just sixty years ago (the year I was born) it was the same story.  But then there were whole streets in my part of South London (which has since become the South Circular) where you could play without ever seeing a car/ where no-one I knew had a car (or phone or freezer or television)/ supermarkets hadn’t arrived/ central heating was the fire in the sitting room/ trains were steam (and ran on time)/ and buying a house was only affordable by the middle-aged.

Go back a little bit further, just 2% of the time our species has existed, and then you have even less.  No written language/ means of communication/ politicians/ law/ religion/ money/ property/ work/ transport/ holidays/ possessions/ clothes/ tools/ or anything else.  All that existed was what we were born with, our naked selves.  And the only thing we considered necessary (needs) were foraging for food and water.  That state of being had lasted three million years.  A period when we were totally free to do whatever we wanted.  98% of our existence.  It was also the only time when we also managed, without any thinking or direction to exist totally sustainable, as in maintaining zero-growth population (just like every other species), and taking nothing out of the ecology that couldn’t be replaced with like.

The point I am trying to make here is that there is only one state of being for our species.  And that is the natural one.  The one where we accept our place in the order of all living things and don’t try to think we know better.  For those three million years our total population didn’t exceed five million.  This was because this is all we are allowed to have.  The capping wasn’t done consciously, it was regulated hormonally (as it is with all other species), and by predators.  Therefore our needs/ happiness depend on just two things, foraging for food and water, nothing else.

That all changed of course when for whatever reason (nobody knows) we stopped acting sustainably and embarked instead on what has since become 10,000 years of creating false needs.  A nasty regime of rulers and slaves, the slaughter en-masse of every other species, irreplaceable ransacking and destroying virtually all the planet’s natural resources, and forced reproduction to provide even more serfs.

We can’t continue doing this.  It isn’t sustainable, how the planet functions, how we and every other living creature gets what they need to exist (in our case air to breathe, water to drink, food and shelter).  By diverting from that natural law we have upset the delicate balance, so ultimately the point will come when we all die from it.

That moment is upon us right now.  Our population was sustainable at a maximum of five million.  By 1800 that had risen to one billion.  Sixty years ago it reached two billion.  Now it’s 7.4 billion.  With an 80 million increase since last year, and currently growing exponentially.

For those who still don’t get it, this means we are in big trouble.  Today, tomorrow, or any time soon, we could actually cease to exist, or at least a good 98% in places like the UK where there is no room or preparedness for self-sufficiency.  No-one knows when or how it will happen because no-one is qualified to predict that.  But it doesn’t take any intelligence whatsoever to do the math and work out it will and that few, if any, will survive.

So what can we do to prevent it?

For most of those reading this, you’re simply going to pretend it’s yet another hoax and carry on as normal.  Even though a three-year old could see it isn’t.  I can do nothing about that.  You have become a slave to the me-culture and perhaps deserve not to survive.  I can tell you, before you think of it, that posting a comment is not going to help one bit.

Or you could take a positive stand and take this as the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.  Sell up and move to a place where you stand some chance.  Become a survivalist.

The easiest a most practical option is to simply support an immediate ban on all further births.  It sounds crazy in Europe, when the population figure is stable, even declining, but to be of any positive use we have to get the numbers back down to sustainable, not 60 million in the UK alone.

Finally, you could carry on where you are but reduce what you spend, by examining what your needs really are.  Because spending is equal to population increase, it doubles (or more) the rate of destruction to our precious ecology.  My example of spending just 2,500 euros a year might seem rather extreme straight off, but consider Daniel Suelo who has lived the last sixteen years without spending any money (or owning any things).  There are also currently 896 million other people who have not much more.  It is possible to live on a lot less.

Don’t wait until it is too late.  Aim to be a survivor.  Otherwise tomorrow could be the end of yet another empire from pure stupidity and selfishness.

c01flgarcq

It’s been a while since I wrote anything personal here.  Mainly I suppose because there hasn’t been much to report.  But recently I have been buzzing with an idea for a blog, and failing to find a way to start it off have decided to combine the two.

I have new partner at long last.  Pauline is her name, and she has been living in Shetland, so enjoys remote living as much as me, as well as caring for animals.  My menagerie so far has only reached a paltry three cats (plus all the wild boar and deer that like to call this their home), but am hoping that together we can make amends and incorporate a lot more waifs and strays, in particularly donkeys, which she has shown me the joys of saving from enslavement and cruelty (endemic in Spain).  So I guess we will be building not just a new home but an Ark too, and possibly just in time (read more below).

There has also been a tremendous response to the posting about EP for sale, hopefully a new guardian will turn up for that soon and we can be on our way to France.

Plus there’s the football.  Yes, even I can’t believe am actually writing this.  Sport is an anathema to me, always has been.  Especially that anyone can waste a precious life supporting/ following it (let alone take part).  But before you reach for the keyboard and bombard me with comments, this is not a tirade against what you might consider perfectly healthy and normal.  No, what I wanted to say is something inspired by looking for a new book to read.  As you probably know (or guessed) my life deliberately excludes tv/ radio/ newspapers/ along with an internet connection, so reading is very important.  For which I get through about two or three titles a week.  Most from my existing library, which I like to re-read at least once a year and never tire.  Others I buy second-hand, whenever there is spare cash.  Recently it’s been a Nick Hornby fest, he is amazing.  And desperate for more of the same I wondered if FEVER PITCH would be as good, being the only title I don’t have.  For obvious reason, it is about football.  I remembered there was a Channel 4 film with Colin Firth, so to save making a costly mistake, watched that first.

Incredible.  And by this I don’t mean CF’s awful hammy performance.  But that so many people can be so utterly consumed by something so meaningless, not only that, but a vast cross-section of society too.  It is a religion.  And add in all those other crazies (for which I have never had time for either), it seems we have developed into a species where the majority are now totally under the spell of their fanatical leaders.  The motives of which are not good.

What got me into all this?  Ronald Wright’s A SHORT HISTORY OF PROGRESS.  I can’t get it out of my head.  Because it’s the most important thing we should all be aware of/ addressing, and because of football/ religion we aren’t even realising it exist.

I’m going to do him a great injustice by trying to explain this, but you’ll get the jist at least.  Throughout 95% of the time we have existed on this planet, a period of approximately three million years, we neither progressed or evolved, in any way whatsoever.  Each and every day over that whole time was pretty much the same.  And this is normal.  Every other species on the planet behaves the same.  They appear from nowhere, then eventually settle into their natural niche/ pattern within the ecology, the population stabilising out at its sustainable level, according to the availability of food/ predators.  Ours over that period evened out at around 100,000.  Then suddenly, 12,000 years or so ago, something changed.  Nobody knows what, but we opted out of the natural order and started to consume far more of the other species, with a subsequent growth in our own numbers and the knock-on effect that had.  When I was born, 60 years ago, this had reached 2.8 billion, with the majority of all the other species virtually extinct.  Today it has reached 7.4 billion, and we are left with a mere sliver of the ecology, while reproducing at a rate of three times to the number of deaths.

This should be setting off alarm bells (several thousand years ago).  Yet it hasn’t.  I doubt anyone knows what it means.  Because our religions (including football) tell us instead that all things are cyclical, and that they naturally regenerate.  So if Arsenal has a bad season this year, next year there will the chance to do better.  If we sin we will be forgiven.  So as long as the sun continues to rise and set, we can do whatever we like and all will be fine.  But we can’t.  Nature, that precious ecology we rely on for everything: air/ water/ food/ and countless other things, is not like this.  It is about diversity and renewal of its precious resources, mutual interdependence.

While we are the opposite, celebrating the increase in our numbers and its effect, forgetting our pastmistakes.  Until the day comes (very soon I think, who knows it could be tomorrow) when we can no longer breathe/ hydrate/ or feed ourselves.

What more can I say, to all those happy in their world of terraces and pews?  Except to ask that you at least reflect on what happened at EASTER ISLAND (Google it).

chernobyl

BREXIT was a real nightmare, but now the dust has settled maybe after all the fuss it was just what was needed.  To get people, who  otherwise wouldn’t bother to think about such things, appreciating how much we are being ripped off, though not by the EU, by our own government.

It certainly made me think about what all that tax goes on.  And from there it was a short leap to discovering something even more sinister.

Take the welfare budget for instance.  It’s a joke.  Over half is spent on providing the infrastructure (staff/ premises/ etc).  Then if you’ve ever tried to get benefit, you’ll realise it has been set up to make the process as painful and difficult as possible.  Why?  Because they don’t want to pay out, just employ as many public servants (a rather apt phrase here, along with: the cost of living) as possible to keep the unemployment figures low.  Whereas far cheaper (and fairer) would be to scrap the whole thing (pensions included) and just give every resident over 16 a living wage.  Why hasn’t that been a referendum issue, especially now when Switzerland is proposing exactly this.

In direct contrast to helping those in need is the defence budget.  Which despite published expenditure is impossible to guess at, because they don’t want us to know.  It has to be large, because the UK is one of the top five spenders in the world.  While Switzerland and Ireland the lowest, and haven’t been involved in an armed conflict in living memory.  Another why?  Along with why does it rank higher in importance than any other public service provision?

Nuclear Power.  Not established to provide cheap electricity (it isn’t possible, the costs are the highest in the business), but solely to create the raw material for nuclear weapons.  Between 1957 and 1976 producing enough to supply the country’s needs for the next 200 years.  Again, the question has to be, why?

Education.  Slightly different concern here.  The question should be: why spend anything ?  The current system has been pointless ever since anyone can remember, so let’s save a whole load of money and scrap it altogether.  Except then who would condition the future workforce?  Who would babysit them so their parents can carry on working?  The truth is, nothing of value can be taught, and most sixteen-year olds would be just as adequately prepared without it.  It is parents who should bear the cost of babysitting, then perhaps they would think twice about having them in the first place.  Likewise, employers the cost of training.  Or if it is still considered important to have a culture which fosters adaptability/ creativity/ ability to think independently/ be inventive/ original, then look no further than the Steiner/ Waldolf approach for the answers.  What does need to be taught though is the very basics of life.  Like how the planet actually works,and what we all need to be doing to ensure there is future.  Because right now the current ecological meltdown needs everybody to put pressure on those who are the major cause (more on that in a moment).  Also teaching practicalities that will soon become essential once again, like how to construct shelter/ gathering & growing food/ keeping warm/ generating energy/ staying healthy.

Health.  What can I say?  We consider ourselves to be the most civilized species on the planet, at its most advance, and we spend more on killing each other than anything else, particularly health.  What’s more the service is provided is only partial and appallingly bad.  I despair.  It is the Third World.

Police.  My father was a policeman.  I grew up in the middle of London and it was like a village.  Nothing has been the same since the bobby was taken off the beat.

The Postal Service and Transport.  They fit together.  It doesn’t matter how much it costs to provide a national network of trains/ buses/ and postal workers, but it has to be re-instated now and made even better than before.  It’s the most sustainable, quickest, and cost-effective way to transport people/ products/ and mail around the country.

Libraries.  Reading is about learning the mistakes of the past and expanding your mind.  It educates and changes you in a way no other media can (including the internet, which is no better than a drug).  Librarians are the guides in this process.  There should be more provision not less.

And I’ll stop right there, this was meant to be just a selection.

Next.  Most people actually believe that progress is a law of nature, and improvement is the only way to evolve.  This has to be the biggest misconception ever.  A lie created by big business to justify them raping the planet for their personal profit.  We haven’t evolved at all (in fact our brain size has got smaller), we’ve just made more things to spend money on and waste our precious lives with.  And no other species has ever heard of progress.  For our first three million years we lived quite happily, without changing a thing, a period when it would be possible to go back and forth in time and not notice any difference.  In anything.  During the same period our population also remained stable throughout, as with all our species, at a total of just 100, 000.  Then 10,000 years ago something happened (nobody knows what) and things began slowly to change.  Three hundred years ago (the beginning of industrialisation) it suddenly accelerated, exponentially, until now the global population is a staggering 7.4 billion.

Progress is simply just another word for profit, for those who rule over us: the heads of the Civil Service/ MPs/ ambassadors/ House of Lords/ Royal Family.  They who decide what services are to be provided, without consulting the electorate.  And guess what, they are all wealthy business people in their own right.  Who use their positions not only to secure big fat commissions from awarding contracts, but are privy to insider information to trade in stocks and shares.  They are all at the very least millionaires, most more.  What kind of democracy are we talking about here?

Above them is our Head of State, the richest person in the world (worth trillions), the richest person ever in history.  And who during her reign has made poverty (both in the UK and worldwide, her business interests are worldwide) the highest ever/ illness and disease likewise/ wars and killing/ and of course ecological destruction.  Whilst ironically head of the Church too.  Matthew 19:21: Jesus answered “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.  Who hasn’t been reading her own rule-book?

But let’s forget all that for the moment (as if the rich are ever going to listen to reason).  Far more important is what are we going to do about what the damage they have caused?  Money is what causes poverty/ illness/ wars/ and environmental destruction.  We are on the brink of another world war and major environmental collapse, yet no-one seems to think all this might be important to avert.  We are living on borrowed time.  If there was a delay in getting food to the shops today (say a tanker driver’s strike), then within 24 hours there would be nothing left.  If it continued people would start to die and within one month 90% of the population would be gone.  The current annual increase in temperatures (now 3%) could literally spark off another ice-age tomorrow.  Sea levels are already rising and set to continue another 50m (drowning most capital cities, all of Holland, and a good proportion of the UK).

We have a choice.  Either carry on, let this madness continue until finally the super-rich head off to their redoubts and safety.  Or demand a change now and start work reversing the damage.  It will require severe measures.  Pollution will have to be reduced to zero/ drastic cuts in energy consumption/ zero waste and 100% recycling/ no more mining for raw materials, all products and buildings will have to be created using renewable materials/ food grown locally/millions of broadleaved trees to be planted/ vast reduction in water use/birth control …..

Business and life are not (or ever were) compatible.  It is time for us to stop being victims, before it is too late.

a simpler life el pocito house exterior 12

Located in the idyllic unspoilt countryside of the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche, in Andalucia (SW Spain).

A forest garden (started in 2009), set in six acres (2.5 hectares) of dramatic hillside, 600 metres above sea-level, with panoramic south-west views clear to the Portuguese border.  Hundreds of trees, all with an edible value.

Includes also a totally off-grid stone house (with solar power + pure water supply), furnished and ready to move into.

Just 15 minutes away (2km/ 1.2 miles) by forestry track is the ancient village of Almonaster la Real, a beautifully preserved and whitewashed local centre (with all the facilities) dating back to the Moors.  100kms (60 miles) away the amazing city of Sevilla.  120kms (72 miles) the beach.  40kms (24 miles) the border with Portugal.

Would suit a couple who want to live simply and healthily, surrounded by nothing but nature.  Or small community based on yurts/ campervans.

Further details on the site: https://elpocito.wordpress.com.  Extra photos on Facebook: https://facebook.com/phil.rooksby/.

Spanien, Andalusien, Provinz Huelva, Almonaster la Real: Dorfansicht mit Mezquita im Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena y picos de Aroche

Spain, Andalusia, Province Huelva, Almonaster la Real: View over village with Mezquita in the Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena y picos de Aroche | Spanien, Andalusien, Provinz Huelva, Almonaster la Real: Dorfansicht mit Mezquita im Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena y picos de Aroche

queen_1_ryl2gx

Having had time to get over the awful shock about BREXIT, here are some of my reflections on the matter:

If instead this was a death of a Royal (Diana for example), the entire country would unite in mourning and find ways to honour her memory.

Or as with the refugees in France, send money and help 24/7, until there were no more.

A tsunami, on the other side of the world, in a place most Brits would not even know where it was, would find groups spontaneously forming to alleviate their suffering.

The BREXIT disaster however, is something that directly affects our own citizens, and this is not about one person/ hundreds/ or thousands, but more than three million lives.  Which unless this decision is reversed will be devastated permanently.  Surely they are worth the same kind of support as the above?

I’m talking here about the expats and immigrants (who by the way are real people too, for you Christians reading this).  And incidentally were denied a vote, in fact have been denied any right to vote ever since they left their country.

This is also going to affect everyone else in the UK too.  This deep-rooted racism and jingoism (as if The Empire still existed, wake up!) which has surfaced in half the population, and been given a respectability, is just a precursor to full-blown fascism.  Who will then become their next victim/ scapegoat when the economy doesn’t improve as promised?

I would like to feel there was some hope of a reversal in all this, if only because of the glaring legal inconsistency that a “majority” in a situation like this needs to be substantially greater than just slightly more than half the vote.  And there is actually an official government petition highlighting this which you can go on-line and sign (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215).

Scotland and Northern Ireland also are making impressive noises about reprisals, and I can’t help thinking it would be a wonderful opportunity to choose which country we really want on our passports if they did leave the UK, but this is not constitutionally possible.  The Queen, who still rules over us (we are her subjects, not free citizens remember) and ultimately (or always?) makes the big decisions, has a vested interest in never letting this happen.  Not only as the biggest landowner in those regions, but the one who stands to lose the most.

Actually I’m still reeling how the referendum actually happened (and became binding), given that both majority political parties were against leaving from the start.  Does this precedent mean it is perfectly feasible now to have a referendum about anything?  For example, what about finally dismantling the autocracy (we must be one of the last countries in world without real democracy)?  Because if the majority really do think it is the immigrants who are costing the country dear, they should take a long hard look at what the House of Windsor has been bleeding them dry for, and a lot longer.

Meanwhile, I along with the entire spanish nation (including the far-right ruling party PP amazingly), hopes sanity will prevail and life can get back to normal in the UK, pre-BREXIT, asap.  Remember, it is perfectly okay to make a mistake, no-one will hold it against you.

ps. Among my spanish friends, those who are currently accused of stealing precious jobs from those born in the UK, here are the facts.  They are working mostly in the big cities where there is no shortage of vacancies.  Filling such glamorous and lucrative posts as: receptionist/ night porter (and sole employee) in cheap hotel chains like Travelodge, putting the toppings on your pizza at Domino’s, and cleaning up the mess you make at Benetton.  How many indigenous 35 year-olds with a minimum of four years university education do you know who would want to do that for a living?

Berlin, Lustgarten, Kundgebung der HJ

I haven’t lived in or visited England (as opposed to Scotland/ Wales/ or Northern Ireland, who are all blameless in this) since 2000, but the impression I’m getting now is one of a social and political atmosphere which has changed dramatically, akin to Germany in 1939.  Okay sounds rather dramatic, but for us expats that’s exactly what is happening.  Because suddenly, out-of-the-blue, without any democratic process whatsoever, we’ve been denied our basic human rights, turned into non-persons, and no-one cares.  This is what is known as “fascism”.

A silent pogrom is taking place.  With up to one and a half million UK citizens (and another 1.5 million European citizens, currently legal immigrants in the UK) facing possible deportation, the loss of all our property/ belongings without any recompense, along with all our paid-into rights to free healthcare and a state pension.  Not forgetting that already we have lost our right to vote, anywhere  It makes me ashamed to be english.

I wish there was a God, because only a miracle is going to make the stupid english majority, those who think it is their right to dictate over the rest of the UK/ world, see sense.

MAKE SURE YOU VOTE

DO NOT ABSTAIN

Television The Good Life

Tom and Barbara in their garden, The Good Life, BBC TV

On the eve of the referendum, my entire world feeling like it is crashing down around me, I came across this.  A foreword by John Seymour to a book entitled HOVEL IN THE HILLS, by Elizabeth West.  It was written in 1977 but is as pertinent today as then.

Working on the assumption (and it is only an assumption) that we have one life each it is important to every one of us that we do the best with it.  If society says to us: “We are prepared to look after you from the cradle to the grave provided you live in a boring place and work at a boring job” then we should consider very seriously whether this is a bargain we want to accept.  The author of this book has declined to accept it, and she is one of a growing number of people who have decided not to make this bargain.  In the first place, she and her husband answered the question “Where shall we live?” not with the answer: “We will have to live where our work is” but with the answer: “We will live in a beautiful place of our own choosing.”

People who do this are always asked by their friends: “Yes – but what will you do to earn a living?”  Now the only way to answer that question is by going and finding out.  I have come in contact with some hundreds of people who have made this choice, a choice that would have been unthinkable to all but a tiny minority of people twenty years ago, and I have always been impressed time after time at the enormous amount of variety of ways that such people have solved the problem of making a living in the place of their choice.  True the Wests have had to go away from home from time to time – but there is nothing wrong with this; it is a perfectly happy way to live to sally forth from your secure home from time to time to bring back the mutton, as it were: sailors, fishermen, drovers, traders, pirates, brigands, and soldiers of fortune, travelling actors, explorers; countless people of great initiative and resourcefulness have done just this.

But what has surprised me is how so many of these people who have fled from what they thought was a corrupt and corrupting urban society, have arrived in their Shangri-las either with no idea of how they were going to earn a living, or else with an idea which has proved in practice to be the wrong one: and found – quite unexpectedly and somehow almost without looking for it – a solution that they would have never have dreamed of.  The fact is, there is a livelihood for people in the country – ay and in the remote fastness of Wales too – just as much as there is in the middle of Birmingham.  There is a livelihood, for any people with determination and initiative – and the sort of people who refuse to accept the dull bargain society offers are always such people – in any part of the countryside you like to find.  You may have to go away sometimes – but you go away to come back again.  And I wouldn’t mind betting that the Wests, when they get tired of making forays into the outer world, will find a perfectly acceptable way of earning at home the little money that even the self-supporter needs.

Bee-keeping; designing and selling a range of picture postcards; publishing a series of small guides to the countryside; making wooden soup bowls on a lathe; building boats; making violins, spinning wheels, jewellery, leather objects; potting; weaving; engraving on slate; doubling as a landscape artist and a fisherman; illustrating botanical treaties; running a craft shop; running a second-hand tool shop; dentistry; doing fencing on contract; painting shop and van signs; jobbing building; nursery gardening; market gardening; sheep shearing: these are just a few of the solutions to this problem of earning a living where you want to live among people I know closely in my immediate vicinity that spring to mind without thinking about it very much.  It would surprise me if a quarter of the people practising the above trades had thought of their particular trade when they made the plunge into self-sufficient living in the country.  And the point is that few of them would be able to live at these trades if they had to pay urban rents and buy their food at the supermarket.

The countryside needs such people.  As well as the commercial farmers and farm workers we need people who practice a thousand trades – and people with fun and laughter in their hearts, and the sort of courage and initiative the Wests have got.  And there is more at stake than our own happiness and amusement.  Our very existence as a species may depend on getting more people with brains and imagination back on the land again: to grow the food that will be needed desperately to feed us all when the oil runs out, or when civilization as we know it now runs down out of sheer boredom and frustration, as it looks like doing.

For two hundred years now the cities have been sucking the life blood out of the countryside.  Intelligent country boys and girls have inevitably been drawn to the big city, and, except for occasional holidays, they have not come back again.  Now big-city culture is being examines closely, and is being found wanting.  There are a million unemployed people in this country now, who knows how many there will be in five years’ time?  More young men and women are opting out of it: some of them negatively, living on charity and handouts of urban society, but some – like the Wests – positively, determined to claim their birthright of their countrysides and be worthy of it, to build good and secure homes there and take their proper places as full members of country society.  There is a great renaissance going on.  The flood of brains and imagination from the country to the cities is being stemmed – and a gradually increasing trickle is running in the opposite direction.  The pioneers of this reverse movement may have felt it lonely and tough going at first, but as more and more people like the Wests move out – drop in as we should call it – so we shall give each other more mutual support, life will be fuller, and city people will have to come to the country if they want to see where it is all happening.

a simpler life el pocito blog 07

Believe nothing of what you read or hear, and only half of what you experience for yourself.  It’s a good maxim.  I’ve followed it ever since I failed my eleven-plus.  And have never doubted the wisdom of that choice.  So what is it that everyone else thinks an education system can do better?  To me it was bad way back then in the 1960s/70s, but now I think it is actually got worse.  Not just in terms of the end result, but because somehow it has also become a commodity too, or even a cult.  Where if you have the money you have to buy into all this pre-school/ private school/ private tutors/ and endless higher education crap.  If not then the precious future of your offspring cannot be guaranteed to be pain-free or successful.  Though where all these successes are, for such claims and private and public investment, is a mystery to me.  All I can see is more unemployment, more social unrest, and a massive dependency culture.  Am I the only one?

What actually is the point of an education?  Surely if children can learn their mother tongue before they enter a “system”, and most jobs can be/ are taught by apprenticeship, why bother?  Why waste all those years exposing them to unnecessary stress and competition, force-feeding information they don’t need or will ever use again, and let them enjoy growing up and therefore go on to become a rounded balanced and useful member of society?

The reality of learning is we are all unique and we all do it in our own way at our own pace.  So to try to create a one-size-fits-all solution is never going to work, or be just.  Grading someone (and therefore affecting their future) solely by their short-term memory isn’t.  Classes are not equal.  Teachers either.  Schools aren’t all the same.  Nor catchment areas.  So how is an examination?  Then of those who do make it through the mill, undamaged, are they then the most intelligent/ possess the greatest potential, for those looking for employees?  Of course not.  How many good dentists/ doctors/ architects/ lawyers/ et al, do you know?  In my experience you only ever encounter the crap ones.  Why?  Because the system doesn’t work.

The only reason (I can think of) why there is state education at all, is because it is the cheapest/ easiest way to baby-sit children so their parents can be forced to work, keeping the idle rich politicians and business happy.  That’s why I didn’t use my teaching qualification in the end.  After already wasting sixteen precious years being held captive, I finally realised by the end of the course I wanted to spend the rest of my days doing something worthwhile, not causing more suffering.

I believe that real learning happens only by osmosis, after being inspired to find out more.  You don’t need classrooms for that.  As Alan Sugar (I am ashamed to say) would say, an education is of no benefit when it comes to getting what you want.  Or maybe Maureen is a better example, who without the benefit of qualifications became the Associate Director of THE WEST YORKSHIRE PLAYHOUSE.

And I’ve gone off on yet another rant.  What I wanted to say was how we can all do what we want, if we have the confidence and will to have a go.  And a good example of this came up last week.  I’ve been working on designing a new house, which my soul-mate (when I find her) and I will build in France.  I’m doing this because there is no alternative.  Despite an exponential rise in eco-experts and environmental products it is still impossible to get anyone (architect or builder) to do it for you, and at the same time create something anywhere near sustainable (as in costing the planet as little to build/ run as possible).  And unlike most people I will not settle for anything less.  So am doing it myself.

This may not be the norm, especially in the UK, but the idea is as old as shelter/ housing itself, we’ve just lost the confidence to demand what we want.  Recently though, thanks to the internet, it has become more popular.  Especially among those (like me) who may not possess any qualifications or experience, or a surplus of cash to throw at it.  By drawing on the wisdom of those who have already gone before, sharing this for free in Facebook groups/ YouTube/ and individual blogs.

Last week two issues in particular were niggling me, those of WATER and HEAT.  The “why pay out a fortune in utilities” bit was solved long ago, but there still remained the small cost in long-term maintenance, also I felt I could do a lot better on performance.  Here are my solutions, thanks to the internet:

WATER.  With a borehole or spring, apart from the replacement/ life-expectancy of the pump, that all comes free.  But when you only drink 10% of it, not a wise use of precious natural resources and equipment.  Answer (and why did it take this long to realise?): rainwater harvesting.  Even here, where It only falls during three periods a year (roughly September/ February/ and May), that would only require 10,000 litres of storage (1000 litres = 1m3) to meet the needs of two people.  And apart from the initial capital investment (not huge), there would be no further running costs.

HEAT.  I’ve used wood-stoves for about 30 years, and over that period they have improved a lot.  Today reaching as much as 85% efficiency (compared to a fireplace which is around 10%).  But as anyone who has cut all their own wood would soon realise, this is only part of the equation.  Conventional heating (excepting storage heaters, keep that in mind) only works as long as you continue to feed the heat source with fuel.  As soon as you stop the temperature in the room begins to fall.  How to improve on this?  The answer is threefold: insulation/ orientation/ and a completely different type of stove.

For insulation: construct thicker walls (60cm is a good minimum)/ thicker thermal floors/ ensure windows are glazed (and installed) to a higher standard than double layer type + thick wooden shutters/ have as much roof insulation as possible (up to one metre even).  All of which are capital costs only.

Orientation: this is critical.  Both for maximum use of sunlight as a passive heat source (in the winter) and creating as much natural light indoors as possible.  The ideal for this is a house with a rectangular footprint that is long and narrow.  One of those long sides being the front, facing south, and entirely enclosed by a three metre deep greenhouse (shaded/ ventilated in summer).  All of which is capital cost only.

Stove: masonry or rocket mass heater.  These use the same amount of fuel as a wood-stove (typically 6kg a day), but due to their efficiency/ size/ and heat-retaining construction (firebrick/ rubble/ adobe) are able to store the available energy (as near as 100% as possible) like a storage heater, allowing it to escape slowly for up to 24 hours.  Thus the indoor temperature could remain at around 20C the whole day/ night on the same amount of fuel.  Capital cost, plus running costs of wood-cutting tools.

Overall savings: not having to waste a precious life working to earn enough to pay two hefty and totally unnecessary utility bills/ plus equipment replacement.

Self-motivation, the inverse natural law to education.

titanic-768

If you are a UK citizen living in another EU country, own property there, or are planning a move soon, this affects you.

If the majority in the referendum is YES (to leave the EU) the following could happen:

You might lose your home/ land (it will certainly be hard to sell).  You might have to leave that country or face deportation.  You might lose your right to a UK pension, or discover it has been frozen.  You might have to pay for health cover from now on.

The UK government is trying it’s best to force this through by promising every kind of safeguard.  This is not binding.  The only real assurance is if everyone votes NO.

Make sure you have a vote (and use it) by visiting http://gov.uk/register-to-vote.  Then immediately re-post/ SHARE this with everyone you know.  Remind them again just before the day (make a note now).

Don’t assume it won’t affect you, that you have accumulated rights to residency in your new homeland.  In this case it will and you haven’t.  You/ me and 6 million other innocent souls who up ‘til now thought they had escaped the UK regime and were trying to get on with their lives anew.

a simpler life el pocito blog 06

Two thoughts that just came to me, which might resonate with some of you out there.

The first concerns fear, especially the inordinate amount of time/ sleep I waste focussed on it, to the detriment of everything else.  Because, apart from the inescapable events that I pretty much know will be bad in some way (the dentist for example), most of the really nasty things in life are always totally unexpected.  Therefore what I am actually worrying about is not based on any unique ability to see into the future, but purely the crazy machinations of an un/conscious mind creating scenarios based on nothing more than past experiences.  Life, like nature, is not like that, it is about change/ diversification, new things happening, and not the past repeating itself.  If I can learn to accept this, don’t let it take hold but float away like smoke up a chimney (credit to LAZY LAMA LOOKS AT BUDDHIST MEDITATION by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche), then not only will they probably never happen but I will get more sleep and be happier.

The second is about discovering who we really are, or more specifically how perhaps we all need to spend some time alone.  To be totally honest this is not my theory, it was proposed by a complete stranger.  Who incidentally turned up unexpectedly here last Thursday night, adding weight to the above, that you cannot guess what is going to happen next.  He not only came all the way from the UK, in part to meet me, but found El Pocito (which most of the locals couldn’t), driving 2kms along forestry tracks that are not only confusing but currently all but impassable except to 4x4s, in an old Ford Transit.

Anyway, returning to the subject.  He had recently ended a long relationship (and you know my story), but instead of nursing the wounds and valiantly carrying on, decided to use this event to give up job & home and seek an alternative way of life, someplace else.  Along the way beginning to realise that something truly profound was happening.  Most of us during our lives, due to cultural pressures, spend the majority of our time in the company of others.  We accept this without question.  But maybe it isn’t all to the good.  Because during this period of imposed isolation he has discovered things about himself he never knew before.  I won’t reveal any more, but the same has happened to me, I just hadn’t realised it as a good thing until now.  I have never really lived alone before, moving almost seamlessly from childhood to sharing a home with lovers.  The last two and half years though have been different.  They haven’t been good, but that is probably because I’d been so conditioned how to see things, because in hindsight I have changed dramatically over that period, as a person.  For example, become social, as in communicating with other people, this is a total reversal of my previous self.  Speaking/ understanding spanish, ditto, before not able to utter a single word.  Can cook (or at least managed to survive on it).  Learning to live without fear.  Plus existing in the middle of a forest, 2kms from the nearest village, totally off-the-grid, in what is no more than a hut, while managing single-handedly 25,000m2 of garden.  What more do you need to convince you that we must all have untried abilities?  Not only that, it has made me feel quite differently about the kind of person I now want to spend the rest of my life with.  Food for thought as they say.  Go ponder.  Phil.

a simpler life el pocito blog 05

I’ve been trying to come up with a succinct way of describing how it is I actually live.  Initially to stave off any more time-wasters in the soul-mate search.  But now I think it was more part of a waking-up process, from a very deep long sleep, three years and probably more.

Yesterday it suddenly became apparent.  I was in Nelson’s bar, himself was mysteriously absent, so Gabi was standing in instead, and she doesn’t know my preferences yet, so she asked what I’d like.  Café solo, I replied.  To which followed: how much water/ what size cup/ sugar or sweetner?  This is all perfectly normal here, folk take bar-time and their beverages very seriously and the bar staff respect that.  I repeated that I would like a café solo (which is an espresso), and just the coffee please, nothing else added.

The silence that fell in the room at that was profound (the making lots of noise 24/7 is very big here too).  Coffee without water?  Without sweetner?  Who is this man?

And that’s it, in a nutshell.  My life, what I now choose to drink, eat, and how I spend my time, have (over a period of time) been stripped back to the bare essentials, and the reason for that is because I want to be able to experience their pure untainted taste to the full.  No longer do I want everything done conventionally, where it is artificially flavoured or processed and you get addicted to feeling physically and emotionally sated by the end of each day, mainly because so much of the everyday is geared around money and the need to earn plenty.

Consequently my life has evolved to escape that.  For food I shop now only once a week, mainly for fresh fruit and vegetables, staples, plus the few household necessities I can escape using, and food for the cats.  It takes an average of fifteen minutes and hopefully won’t come to more than £24 in total.

I don’t eat out, by choice (unless someone else is paying).  And when I cook (which is not something anyone else should ever have to suffer) no longer use seasonings or flavourings.  It tastes just as bad without, so I would prefer at least to try and taste the seasonal differences, rather than have it all overwhelmed by the ubiquitous combination of salt/ sugar/ or vinegar.

Time is pretty much my own to use how I choose.  In theory I need to earn enough to balance out what I spend.  For this, five hours of teaching per week is sufficient.  I haven’t managed to find enough students to manage that yet (so still rely of the generous support of friends) but am always working on ways to achieve it.

I don’t have (or wish for) a tv or internet access, so there’s no temptation to let things slide and others entertain/ brainwash me, I am quite capable of doing that myself.

Nor do I have any desire to buy into any other kind of vicarious experience, so don’t travel or indulge in lifestyles.

In short what I have sounds like a pretty bleak existence, but it isn’t at all.  The thing that made life special with Maureen (for 35 years) is that we approached each day with the aim of having as much fun as possible and be creative, using only what we had to hand.  That way life costs nothing and every day becomes an adventure.  I’d forgotten all about how it used to be, numbed by Maureen’s illness then death, but now I want to start enjoying life like that again.  Watch this space for developments.

Phil.

a simpler life el pocito blog 04

I’ve been holding off writing this, because I had hoped the dilemma would have solved itself by now, or at least there was a less public way of appealing for help.

But no there isn’t. Not for me or the hundreds of thousands of others who are suffering a similar fate. By which I mean singledom.

Don’t laugh, I’m deadly serious. When you are literally all alone in the world life simply isn’t worth living, and that’s a fact. If I had a pistol right now I would prefer to shoot myself in the head than face yet another day without there being some significant other here to give my existence a point. Okay I grant you there is a small minority who chose to be single, but on the whole we ALL need company to function. And by that I mean to be able to do ANYTHING. Being single is like being hobbled, living in a state of stasis while more or less invisible to the rest of the world.

And before you start writing with worldly (and esoteric) wisdom, forget it, I’ve had a shed-load over the last two and half years, mostly from those who have no idea what they are talking about, mostly from those in smug couples.

Miss Right is not going to suddenly appear in Almonaster and see only me. The only answer therefore, as with everything else in life, is to be proactive, shout it out, until Ms Right hears and makes contact.

So here goes. Either you, or someone close to you (your partner/ friends/ family/ colleagues) must know other single people (at least one). Go to them right now (before you forget) and tell them all about me. Give them the link to my site (https://elpocito.wordpress.com), Facebook page (http://facebook.com/phil.rooksby/), and then get them to promise to make contact (monkeyandsofia@yahoo.co.uk). Do that and know you have helped two trapped souls be free again.

Please do this, or at the very least copy and SHARE it on whatever social media you are connected to. One day there will be a GOOGLE or FACEBOOK for single people to meet up (why has no-one thought of this?), until then we each have to do what we can for ourselves.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Phil

 

a simpler life el pocito books the man who quit money

While updating the wildwood page this week I suddenly noticed all the sidebar links and wondered, when was the last time they were checked or new ones added? Then, why are they there at all?

At the same time I’ve been re-reading THE MAN WHO QUIT MONEY by Mark Sundeen and watching some Youtube videos of Daniel Suelo talking about his reasons for giving up spending. With the result I’ve scrapped all those links, because the real reason they looked wrong I realise now is because they aren’t true to what they claim.

When we set out on this journey (oddly enough in the same month and year as Daniel Suelo), our aims were: to live without the need for jobs/ to become healthier/ be sustainable/ and have time to pursue our creativity. None of which we had the slightest clue how to achieve at that time, but nonetheless over the years since have moved closer and closer towards. The most fundamental discovery being that living without money is the key to them all.

The example of Daniel Suelo simply confirms we were wiser than we ever realised, as does a recent experience of trying to find a community of like-minded souls to live amongst (it is lonely enough following this path with the lack of a partner like Maureen, but a lot harder when everyone around me is of the totally opposite persuasion). With the latter I came across literally hundreds of examples, all who have made a conscious choice to move from a conventional life to one of self-sufficiency/ sustainability. All very impressive too, nay they filled me with envy at the richness of what they had achieved, especially compared to what I can show for all my labours. Until I realised that not one of those cornucopias and amazing dwellings exists without being underpinned by a steady source of income/ spending, ie. not sustainable.

If you are one these, then before banging off a suitably nasty reply, please at least read the book or watch one of the videos. I guarantee it will change your life. And if you are one who is indeed working along the same path as me please get in touch. The new sidebar will be full of those examples instead. It’s all about focus, sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees.

 

a simpler life el pocito almonaster la real 04

For those interested in the nitty-gritty of day-to-day life here, I thought it was time to once again describe how it feels to be here, rather than my usual rant against the madness in the world which I have no control over. Especially as someone from the UK who has deliberately chosen to live in a very different way/ place/ and culture.

Now global warming has become a proven reality, instead of hypothetical possibility, we are experiencing the effects. Here Autumn is just drawing to a close and I guess Winter will begin. Record temperatures during the last two months have meant a “third” Spring for us, with vigorous plant growth both in leaf and flower. The bees (and wasps!) have also been very active. What will happen next is anyone’s guess.

At least the days are getting longer. I assumed that this happens at an even rate, but apparently not. Mornings remain stubbornly dark until about 8.30am, though sunset is now at 6.30pm.

I am being kept busy with more than enough jobs in the garden. There is the endless cleaning for fire prevention of the weeds around the 600m perimeter, which then form the basis for Jean Pain compost heaps/ terracing the hillside (again, a lifetime’s work)/ plus cleaning around and coppicing the 100+ olive trees/ then if there is any time left in the day, sawing firewood.

It was hoped that in 2015 there would be chickens and donkeys installed at El Pocito, mainly for the diversity, but also to help keep down the weeds and increase compost. I got as far as designing the housing for the chickens, but stumbled over suitable protection for them from predators. I do not agree on penning animals, and couldn’t work out how to make a movable run. The donkeys await finding a suitable owner who wants to use this land for pasture.

Discovering the olive trees was a big boost to my morale. I’ve lived here for seven years, working on the land every day, and had no idea of their existence. The previous owners must have felled them to plant pines instead/ breed pigs, but finally they have begun to re-appear, in neat orderly lines.

I also have as many, probably more, strawberry trees (arbutus unedo). In southern Portugal the fruits of these are used (illegally) to make aguardiente. If anyone knows the recipe I would like to know it.

Same goes for information on how to build a simple water heater using the flue of my wood-stove. I’ve not had hot water for sixteen years, but in my 60th year would like to enjoy this luxury (plus a bathroom) if it was possible for little outlay. If anyone reading this can help with first-hand experience please get in touch.

Financially, the year ended on a good note. Despite the UK government “stealing” my entitlement (both our NI contributions) to a widow’s pension, and the Spanish government doing a similar thing with their emergency aid benefit, I managed to survive without any. Earning 750 euros from teaching english and spending a total of 2000 euros. The deficit was met by kind gifts from friends and supporters. Still a way to go until I can totally support myself, but having got spending down this low is impressive. Considering inflation is around 25% and most people spend a hell of lot less to get through the same 365 days.

Psychologically is the only worry. I am still not in a good place in this regard. When Maureen died, many (oh so many) said “time is a great healer”. Well they weren’t talking from personal experience. If anything my loss is not greater. The only consolation being I now meet with her every night in my dreams. I seriously doubt now that I will ever feel “alive” again. Or stop wanting to be sick every morning. Be afraid to drive outside the town’s limits. Regain all the weight I have lost. Maureen was everything. With her we could and did do anything. She made me brave/ strong/ tireless. We fitted together seamlessly. Life with her was always full of fun/ laughter/ creativity/ music/ crazy schemes/ great food/ in a word: perfection. Now all that has gone. To be replaced by fear/ loneliness/ sadness/ and insecurity. I feel like I am trapped in a bubble, unable to touch/ taste/ hear/ or interact with the world around me. Probably just what it feels like to be on anti-depressants.

I miss her so much. Like being able to cut her hair, which she let me do for 30 years, including a huge white Mohican she wore when she was Associate Director of the WEST YORKSHIRE PLAYHOUSE. But most of all the creative partnership. Making things together. For two years there has been none of that. I’m not a craftsperson, in that I don’t specialise in one thing, more of an artist, ready to invent whatever is required in whatever medium. That I sorely want to return to.

Other than that I am fine. Currently short of a few essential warm winter clothes, if anyone has some they can spare. The nearest second-hand clothes shop is in Sevilla (120kms away), and twice I have made the trip to return with nothing. I need cargo/ combat trousers (military type with pockets) in a thick durable material, for cycling into town daily, waist size 32-34”/ 42” outside leg. Any colour that doesn’t show the mud (not black). Also warm cords for wearing around the house, again any colour that is practical. I prefer conventional styling (nothing fashionable please) and straight leg (not fitted).

Finally I must report on something that really upset me this week. The Almonaster town council ordered the rounding-up and execution of all the town’s cats. Not content with promoting bullfighting and the ham industry, this is an appalling act against intelligent beings. Yet another sign the lunatics are running the asylum. Franco is not dead, he has just got his family running things instead.

A couple of months ago, using official UK gov figures for 2016, I calculated that if you did away with the whole pension/ unemployment benefit/ and social security system, replacing it instead with a single annual payment of say £10,000 to everyone over school-leaving age, then not only would all (including the economy) benefit, but the current cost (to the taxpayer) would be reduced by several times the current cost. Also, gone forever would be the stigma of “unemployed”, “on benefits”, or “pensioner.”

Thinking further along these lines I now reckon even greater savings could be made. This time if you simplified the taxation system as well. Replace everything with just one tax. This time on spending. Modifying VAT so it netted the income required, but with the various rates reflecting the sustainability of the product/ service offered, as well as its relevance to the needs for everyday life. Non-processed food for example, heat, and housing, would be zero rated. Luxuries only the richest could afford, the highest. All businesses would be required to install a computerised VAT, which linked directly to the tax office instantly uploaded transactions (doing away with the need for presenting accounts), and providing a receipt to the customer.

On a roll now, so let’s try some more. Further savings could also be made by a requirement that all government spending be ONLY on providing “services”. This way, anomalies such as the “armed forces,” would have to be made relevant to all those they serve, such as coping with national emergencies and not fighting wars outside the country.

Finally, let’s have a go at making the education system actually work. Not just by adding the to the curriculum all the basic skills required for everyday living (ecology and sustainability/ natural building and repair/ nutrition and healthiness). But at the end of the primary school, that everyone is given the choice of staying on into secondary education, or leaving with vouchers for the equivalent of ten years education, redeemable when and on what they feel is relevant.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Does anyone have any successful first-hand (no links please) experience with treating cataracts, avoiding the need for surgery? If yes please get in touch. Phil.

  • À procura de uma alternativa de tratamento para a catarata.
    Alguém tem algum sucesso em primeira mão (não os links por favor) experiência com o tratamento de catarata, evitando a necessidade de cirurgia? Se sim, por favor, entre em contato. Phil.
  • Buscar un tratamiento alternativo para las cataratas.
    ¿Alguien tiene cualquier éxito de primera mano (sin links por favor) experiencia en tratamiento de cataratas, evitando la necesidad de cirugía? En caso afirmativo por favor ponerse en contacto. Phil.

a simpler life el pocito blog 03

There are times in the making of a new garden when you begin to seriously consider whether if it all hasn’t been a huge mistake. This summer was definitely one of those moments. The hottest and longest on record, impossible to do anything. And when all the trees I had so carefully nurtured and cared for looked as if they were going to die.

To make matters worse, none of my friends doing the same thing here, seemed to be suffering. They all had chosen shady north-facing sites, low-lying, and close to a river (why didn’t I think of that?), and enjoying yet another abundant harvest of fruit and vegetables, as they had from day one.

Of course that meant they had none of the amazing views I have, live in the dark and damp the other six months of the year, still it was very frustrating.

This feeling, of doing totally the wrong thing, happened at our last garden too, though then it was the other way round, we had amazing crops from the start, after which they gradually began to dwindle, as the soil fertility gave out. My friend Jose reminded me of all this a couple of weeks ago, when he mentioned he was trying to locate a book called ANOTHER KIND OF GARDEN by Jean Pain. By surreal coincidence I actually have a copy, bought way back in the 1980s, and which I have managed to keep even after all our travelling, though never found the right opportunity to put any of his ideas into practice. Jose, who was originally our village postman, now wants to become an organic grower, but unlike me has already realised that without a vast amount of compost this will be impossible. We bought El Pocito, where the land is utterly sterile and barren, thanks to a long regime of pine plantations and pig-rearing, and found out the hard way. Very little grows, and annual plants have been impossible. This is despite composting everything that comes in (and if you have read the pages on my site you will appreciate exactly what that means), but where the result is nothing on the scale of what is needed to re-forest all the land, about enough each couple of years to cover an area about 5m x 5m (25m2 out of 25,000m2). However, having now re-read Jean Pain’s book, it seems he had an almost identical problem, though on a slightly larger scale (25000000m2), in Provence, and may have discovered a solution. Using brushwood cuttings and composting them. I have therefore begun to start doing that too. While keeping my fingers crossed. I also came upon the following quote, in my treasured 1973 edition of SHELTER by Lloyd Kahn, which made me feel a lot better. That we were right in our choice. Urging patience, when first putting down roots in a special place.

So now we’ve seen 5 years of seasons go on this old 12,800’ mountain, mostly winter & 90 hectic days of summer. We live at 9000 feet; that’s marginal they say.

For these 5 years we’ve thought, dreamed, built, torn down, rebuilt & maintained shelters – a real Milarepa trip – everything from superlight zomes to the heaviest rocks, adobes & logs. It goes on & on, but now there’s not so much pressure. There are roofs & walls, at least, to contain the potbellys. Home, we call it, six children born here, one died.

When we were considering buying this 360 acres an expert told us, you don’t want that place, it’s nothing but a pile of rocks. It is indeed, an epic pile of rocks. Every bit of good soil we’ve got, we built, hauling shit & mulch. Every drop of water we get we use many times & with care. We’re building shelters for water, our houses have all become rain catchers. It takes a long time to learn what you have to do to live in an ecosystem. This Cuerno Verde Mountain, Greenhorn, is our guru. A greenhorn is a berserk young buck with his antlers still in velvet, we are the greenhorns of Greenhorn.

I took this weird drug once called Parade. For three days & nights I hallucinated the evolution of the earth & all the creatures & things that live here. Far out. Now it seems we’re living it out slow, that evolution. After shelter comes food – agriculture & animal husbandry. Life-learning what the old clichés really mean – chickens, a turkey, cowed, get your goat, the birds, the bees & the flowers.

It seems slow & hard for most of the time, especially when it’s all laid out for food stamps in the King Sooper (supermarket) 50 miles away. Why bother when the slow getting-it together with the earth is such a hassle. Somehow the body knows, and trusting the organism comes with trusting the mountain. So slow though.

All that shit we read in books was true. How to do it by people who have done it. But the body can’t learn from books. The body learns slowly by doing. And it seems that each man & woman body has to learn all the things in the evolution parade by lurching down & up the road step by step. All in cycles. All in good time.

Libre (the name of this eco-village) came out of the explosion that started the decline of Drop City (I was there the other day, so weird wandering thru those deserted, ripped off structures, that so much love & agony & labor went into the building. There were ghosts behind every broken window & half-off-the-hinges door. Sad hippy ghost town with a huge pile of human shit deposited on the drainboard next to the sink. I guess we’ll go down there and scrounge what we can) too many rats packed into too small a space. So we built our houses at Libre out of sight of one another. You can see far here, it expands the idea of space. We need more space & soon learn to give more space. Then comes the approach, slowly, in good time, there’s no accounting for taste, begin the dance, contact, recognition. Your mirror – your mirror. So it goes, just folks beginning to learn how to live together on the earth, approaching slowly & from some space.

Roses are red, violets are blue.

We built our shelters, you can too.

Plant a seed & watch it grow. It never grows quite the way you thought it would or wanted it to, but it grows, & feeds you, & sometimes it even gets you high.

rabbit.

The important thing is to make the effort, not to give up and take the easy route to living. The rewards far outweigh any short-term gratification the money route offers.

Finding the keys to grief, unlocking doors to the soul.

A wonderful thing has happened and I am bursting to tell, but the process of putting it all into words is proving so dammed hard (I had to draw a flow-diagram) it will need a certain amount of patience on your part to see how all the different pieces came together.

(In no order of importance).

First.

On Sunday 28th June, at around 7pm, after a week of record-breaking high temperatures a carelessly discarded cigarette set fire to the forest. I realised something was different when the light outside began to lose its usual intensity. You start to notice these things when your senses are no longer overloaded by traffic/ industry/ and all the other things living around other people. It gives you a more intense feel about what else is going on we otherwise miss. And stepping out onto the porch the reason was immediately apparent. Directly ahead, filling my usual panorama of valleys stretching away into the distance, were great billowing clouds of angry smoke, heading this way. Impossible to estimate how far, but having experienced enough fires already in Portugal and Galicia I knew it was time to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Second.

A week or so before this I received an intriguing email. It was from someone I didn’t know, she had come across the site, read my blogs, and wanted to help. She was also a BACH REMEDIES practitioner. As you will probably know already I am always keen to learn more about any branch of alternative medicine, especially first-hand. BACH in particular, as it requires creating a personal profile (like in homeopathy) from which future diagnosis is based. It was too good an opportunity to miss.

Third.

Born and raised in London, as far back as I can remember I have always wanted to live somewhere else. First it was my childhood version of Wellingborough (Northants), where I often stayed with my Nan, and was set free to run wild in the neighbouring allotments/ fields/ orchards. Then Aberllefenni (North Wales) in the 1970s, where I first experienced night so dark I couldn’t see my feet, while above were literally billions of stars all twinkling like diamonds. And during the day the entire landscape was transformed into a luminous green velvet upholstery, accompanied by the soundtrack of running water. Newlyn (Cornwall), around the same time, before wealth destroyed its soul, and crafts and junk were still worshipped as gods. Bayone (S W France) too, for its wild unspoilt Atlantic beaches, empty but for massive washed-up trees. It all grew into such a powerful force, that when Maureen and I met we immediately decided our life from then on would be all about finding a place just like that, nothing else mattered. And we stuck to it, over the next 35 years moving from one idyll to the next, each time in a more remote and intense location.

Fourth.

Making friends has never been easy. I have a no ability to remember jokes, no interest in sport/ drinking/ smoking/ the media/ late nights/ restaurants/ or talking about things I have no experience or interest in. Which pretty well excludes me from most social situations. But what I am good at, is meeting the few incredible and truly unique people who don’t like any of the above either. Especially as soul-mates. Four of whom have shared their lives with me over the last 42 years, and in the process made me into a better person: Jane/ Angela/ Maureen/ Pauline.

Fifth.

Self-esteem. Which is zero. In my world I look at everyone else and see only how crap I am in comparison. Same goes for whatever I make or do.

Now here comes the part where I try and weave them all together.

Maureen died. And with her went my will to live. At the same time I discovered I had many friends, most of whom I hadn’t even been aware of, and who rallied round and kept me going. Many also proffered their sagely advice. Stuff like: sell El Pocito and move into the pueblo/ spend more time with other people, not on your own/ give up being a vegetarian and so strict about things/ accept that Maureen was a one-off, that you’ll never meet anyone like her again, and lower your expectations/ get a job, start a business. All totally not the person I had been until then. But now everything was different, I was single for the first time, had no income, and was bewildered/ desperate. So I chose to accept their wisdom, because they were still in the world of the living (unlike me), and amazingly it did feel right. Well at least during the time I was away from El Pocito. Back there I was getting even more depressed/ sadder/ lonelier/ and my health was beginning to suffer. Also, deep down, I still couldn’t get rid of that nagging doubt that this new me was not being true to who I really was.

Then came the night of the fire. It was an awful shock to discover that everything I had spent my life on might be going up in flames. With no time to save any of it, including the precious cats. Then when I got down into town it was even stranger, no-one had yet realised what was happening. I had nowhere to go or any way of finding out the latest news. In the end I knocked at the door of a couple I know, one of whom is also a foreigner, and they were kind enough to invite me in. While I waited for them to phone round I fell asleep, all my energy drained away. They made up a bed, and by 9pm I was in it. But if my body was hoping that sleep was going to do its magic, then it was in for yet another shock. Because with all the windows left deliberately wide open, to catch any passing breeze, it was like being outdoors in the middle of the day. Hot. And every half hour the church bell next door would strike, jarringly (why doesn’t someone fix that clapper so it rings true?). Traffic passed by endlessly. The street lights kept blazing until dawn. Across the road the baker was working flat out, wood oven burning. And somehow (how?), I could even feel what little fresh cool air there was, being squeezed out by all that fog from the hundreds of electrical appliances left on/ wi-fi/ and mobile phones, surrounding me. By morning not waking refreshed but suffering from a monumental headache, something I never have. I felt so claustrophobic. So left a note and slipped out with the dawn, and headed back to El Pocito.

And this is where/ when everything happened. The moment I passed through that gate, saw the house was still there intact, unchanged, my three lovely cats sitting there waiting, I was enveloped by this terrific surge of pure unadulterated goodness.

I was home. H/ O/ M/ E. The place we had spent a lifetime searching for. That Maureen had known was it from the very first moment she first came here, and yet I had never realised. Suddenly, now I did. I was home, where I belonged.

The next day there was another email from my BACH friend. She had made her assessment, suggesting which remedies would be helpful, and worked out my “type”, my core personality. Based around the remedy VERVAIN. Which in her words, is:

a thwarted one at that: they’re passionate, full of conviction, pioneers, can be very intense and over-strain when unbalanced – which gives rise to tension in all manner of ways. They want to change the world and for the better… They have high ideals and will not yield them for a moment – and frankly, why should they? Quite often they can be loners, even though they would dearly love to be with others – the ‘other’ must share the same ideals, there can be no compromise.  Your body type/metabolism might also indicate Vervain.

Just reading this (before even getting as far as taking any) was like finding a key, which opened a hidden door. Inside, for the first time, I had a sense of who I was, how others saw me.

The same day I came across this quote by Faulkner (in one of Dan Price’s brilliant MOONLIGHT CHRONICLES zines):

A dream is not a very safe thing to be near. It’s like a loaded pistol with a hair trigger; if it stays alive long enough somebody is going to get hurt. But if it is a good dream, it’s worth it.

I also remembered something Maureen said in her book TREAD SOFTLY… (and I hope you have downloaded a copy). How she admired my ability to keep going, even when everything was stacked against us.

My entire world had shifted. Once again I was able to see the good in everything, no longer just the bad. The glass wall was gone too. And I now have so much to live for. A lovely home. The garden of my dreams. All the books and other hand-crafted objects we’ve made over the years, the tens of thousands of people whose lives they have touched. I am blessed to be able to live totally according to my own principles, without compromise. Have even begun, at long last, to make contact with people living here who are on the same wavelength. Plus I know now there is another soul-mate out there for me. Who is no less than Maureen.

When we first arrived in Spain, and for many years afterwards, whenever the subjects of culture/ public services/ or democracy came up, I would feel forced to tell my new spanish friends how much better things were in the UK. And it wasn’t boasting, they were. That is, until now. I can’t believe that after all that hard work in the 1970s/ 80s/ and 90s it was for nothing. I remember trying to buy a copy of Armistead Maupin’s best-seller in the US, TALES OF THE CITY, and being told it was banned in the UK (though eventually getting an illegal copy from GAY’S THE WORD) as if it were yesterday. How you had to be 21 to be in a gay relationship. Now (according to my special correspondent in Scotland), the new Tory government are set to make those days look like the good old ones. Bring back real hell. Leave the EU. Build nuclear power stations again. Spend out even more on unnecessary nuclear weapons. Even less on benefits to those whose most need them. Abortion in the hands of religious fanatics. Equalities, ha! And as for justice and democracy, forget it, unless you money you don’t exist.

Compared to life here, where in many aspects the legacy of dictatorship still has a big influence, this feels like a real jewel compared to the UK right now.

But this isn’t what I wanted to say at all, what has really got up my nose is what those bastards are trying to do to Botton Village, in North Yorkshire. Botton is a community for “learning disabled people”. Whatever that means, it is unique. Literally, there is nowhere else like it. Founded by a follower of Rudolf Steiner (one of my prime influences), this place is heaven on earth. If you want to see the way a society should operate (forget party politics/ socialism/ communism/ collectives/ any of that old crap), experience sustainability in action first hand, then this is where you go to look and learn (taste the coffee too, it is the best). Or was, until the pinheads from the government started telling them how they should do their job. Have you ever thought it odd that ministers don’t need (or ever have) any experience (whatsoever) of the departments they run? Does anywhere else operate their organisations/ business like this? Botton has been leading the world in what it does (there are copies of this model literally in every country now), based on over 60 years of dedicated hard (and all voluntary) graft/ experience. Yet apparently this counts for nothing. Because the current Tory government want to close them down. Allegedly they don’t conform to their high “standards”, or is it the state service doesn’t come anywhere near close? And despite Botton not being a public service or under their jurisdiction, a totally independent charity, always has been, they are forcing them to change. Who or what is going to be next? Will it be the spanish who’ll be signing up to fight in the next English Civil War? Visit http://actionforbotton.org and see how you can help.

Finally, in my efforts to tidy up El Pocito a bit, just in case a potential soul-mate does make it this far, I came across some mint copies of MY KIND OF LIFE this week. Rather than keep them or take them to be recycled (I am really proud of this one, and it is still as relevant today) it would be nice to find a good home for them all. However the postage to the UK is expensive. If anyone would be willing to pay the postage (about £50) please get in touch.

Phil.

a simpler life el pocito blog 02At long last, here it is. Maureen’s story of how we gave up on leading a conventional life and invented our own. One where we could spend each and every day making lovely things, with natural and recycled materials, surrounded by tons of nature, and sharing it with lots of cats. The nine-year search for the right place is told in a gripping way and packed full of emotion.

Copies are free. All you have to do is click here and follow the instructions to download the pdf, which can then be read on any computer/ tablet/ i-pad/ or Kindle.

In return all I ask is that you copy/ share this message (via email/ facebook/ twitter/ or any other social media) with your friends and the world. Let Maureen’s wise words spread exponentially via the internet around the globe and back again!

And please feel free to email me with your feedback. Enjoy!

Phil xx

Now the silly season is here again, and that old perennial democracy is dusted down and paraded about, I’ve come up with some tips for any political candidates yet to be sullied by corruption or vested interest.

1) Introduce a new system of incentive credits, whereby if you don’t use any government service for one calendar year you can use that to get another free. For example, don’t visit the doctor don’t pay community charge (or car tax). Don’t own a car, likewise.

2) All new house builds have to contain a minimum of 50% recycled materials.

3) All new house builds have to be insulated to such a level that the minimum temperature inside (without heating) is never below 17C.

4) All new house builds have to have a minimum of 5000 litres of rainwater storage.

5) Free car tax and MOT for vehicles over 15 years old, same for cars doing less than 2000kms a year.

6) Free community charge for new house builds using more than 75% recycled materials.

7) New scale of (potable) water charges. Up to 100m3 a year per household there is no standing charge and the rate is half the current one. From 100m3 – 110m3 you pay standing charge plus a rate at four times the current, doubling for each subsequent 10m3. 50% reduction across the board if there is a rainwater storage system installed with a capacity of more than 5000 litres.

8) New scale of electricity charges. Up to 365 Kw units a year per household there is no standing charge and the rate is half the current one. Above that you pay a standing charge plus four times the current rate. Electricity put back into the grid is credited at the highest rate payable.

10) All state benefits and pensions to be scrapped (apart from those with a disability). Instead each adult is paid a minimum wage for life equal to the current (and thereafter index-linked) no-tax threshold.

11) State education no longer mandatory.

Time we all take democracy back into our own hands.

My latest musings, as finally spring arrives, blossom abounds, and at last can enjoy warmer weather/ longer days and evenings.

I’ve been thinking about my house, and especially the shortcomings, as in lack of a bathroom/ toilet (indoor or outdoor), how cold it gets inside during the winter in the daytime (when the wood-burner isn’t lit), especially given all this free solar energy going begging, plus the thousands of gallons of rainwater that could be harvested from the roof if there were storage. My first idea was to glass in the porch, which would add a layer of insulation and heat-storage, while at the same time make going to the toilet at least a dry and less of a wind-chill-factor experience when the rain is coming in horizontally. Then perhaps add an extra room and install tanks for rainwater collection. But the longer I spent doing the drawings the harder it got to reconcile the cost and damage to the garden which is now well established. Plus I also would like somewhere now for visitors/ volunteers to stay. So gradually the idea of building a new house has evolved. At the moment it’s no more than a pipedream, the harsh reality is I still don’t even have the income to buy food, but I want to believe things will change for the better eventually, and when that happens be ready to finish what we originally dreamed about, to create as perfect and self-sufficient a home as possible. My inspiration for this change of heart has been the earthship. Where it is possible to build for a substantially lower cost by incorporating all the free resources of El Pocito (soil/ rock/ water) along with recycling local waste (car tyres/ plastic bottles/ and whatever else can be found nearby). And at the same time incorporate as many other sustainable features as possible.

Fine so far. Except when I started searching the internet for all the necessary up-to-date technical information/ contacts/ and practical examples, what did I find? Absolutely nothing. Google seems to have deliberately blocked out all the independent blogs and sites, leaving just political CO2 related to sustainability, businesses hawking dubious green products, and a mere handful of organisations claiming to represent what I am looking for but blocking access by the requirement of a membership fee.

Crazy, but true.

So if you know anyone who has experience of earthship design and build, and would be prepared to share that knowledge, for free, please get in touch. I will in turn reproduce it on this site.

A very mild start to winter here has finally turned into its usual cold/ dark/ and wet (Spain gets really cold too, believe it or not!).  Luckily the forestry work around El Pocito over the last two years left a lot of pine in handy sizes, so this is providing the fuel for the wood-burner this year, which I would have otherwise cut myself with a chainsaw.  All the 300 trees in plots are now planted out and I am busy trying to finish the terracing work next which has been waiting for two years.

Income is still my biggest preoccupation (along with loneliness).  The UK Department of Works & Pensions has just confirmed there is no way they are ever going to refund a single penny of the 26 years of pension contributions Maureen made.  I am not eligible for any benefits whatsoever in Spain.  There is no possibility of finding work here (this region has the highest unemployment in Europe).  And now my gardening boots have just worn out, the 14 year-old van I rely on needs some serious repair work, and each day something else breaks or requires replacement.  Luckily I have some really good friends out there, who responded immediately to my previous request for help, and that has kept me afloat so far, but I still need to find the rest of the £3000 a year.  If only sixty people reading this were prepared to pledge 5 euros a month (60 euros) that would be solved.  As someone who worships frugality I hate to ask this, but if you feel you can help please get in touch (monkeyandsofia@yahoo.co.uk). Phil.

Further on my battle to the death to get the UK Department of Works & Pensions to pay a widow’s pension, legally authorised by the Spanish government.

The Shadow Secretary of State (Labour MP for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves) has so far ignored not only my request for an independent inquiry (I have heard nothing), but all the pleas from El Pocito supporters too, though I imagine still getting paid by UK taxpayers for her role as the Shadow Secretary of State. Meanwhile a friend has just emailed to say that Labour, if elected, is bent (and I use that word in its fullest sense) to continue cutting access to benefits and thereby increasing the level of poverty (already there are 700,000 people in the UK reliant on food banks), something to bear in mind when you vote this year, especially as it could easily be you affected next. The current political system is nothing more than a privileged minority helping themselves to ever more riches at the expense of the poorest (I believe that less than 10% of taxation goes towards essential services). It is time to sweep this corruption out. Here in Spain the new party PODEMOS is already set to do that, with a majority of voters prepared to change their lifelong allegiance.

Paraphrasing the wise words of my guru/ mentor Shirley-Anne Hardy:

The State is an organisation by political means of enabling the economic exploitation of one class by another. This is engineered first by an expropriation of land, then creating a false value upon it. Removing this false “ownership” of land would remove the entire reason for the State’s existence, and along with it the State.

You have the means to make a real change now, use it!

 

Messages in support of my pension claim should be sent to Rachel Reeves MP at:

rachel.reeves.mp@parliament.uk

using the subject/ title line:

PHILLIP KEITH ROOKSBY/ YY154707B/ 08.03.1956

The latest on the widow’s pension/ meltdown at El Pocito.

Even if you don’t feel able to spare a five euro note to help save the work at El Pocito, there is still something really positive you can do (like right now, before you forget) that costs absolutely nothing. And that’s to send a quick email to the Shadow Secretary of State for Works and Pensions, and Labour MP for LEEDS WEST, Rachel Reeves. In support of launching an appeal against the Department’s illegal ruling to deny me Maureen’s 26 years of hard-earned pension contributions.

Her email address is:

rachel.reeves.mp@parliament.uk

I won’t suggest what you should say, but I think the subject/ title line should be the same from everyone, ie as follows:

PHILLIP KEITH ROOKSBY/ YY154707B/ 08.03.1956

Meanwhile as this is really urgent, please feel free to get in touch (monkeyandsofia@yahoo.co.uk – takes a couple of days to reach me – or SMS/ text 00 34 633 731 906) with any other ideas how I can highlight this issue. Phil.

Further on my current financial meltdown, thanks to the UK government. It’s nearly two months since I had ANY income, social security is not possible or any other benefit (so donations gratefully received – I need £4000 a year). Zero response from The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP (Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions), who I appealed to against his Department’s decision not to pay Spain’s request for a widow’s pension. Meanwhile a friend asked what happens to lesbian couples who are legally married, does the survivor get a pension because she is a woman? Answers anyone?

HELP URGENTLY REQUIRED

Do you have a friend/ relative who is a prominent journalist/ MP/ MEP in the UK?

I need someone to highlight the illegal activities of the UK Works & Pensions Office, especially that of two employees working in its Bereavement department, who have been obstructing my application for a widow’s pension for 13 months now.

When Maureen died (in October 2013) I applied for a widow’s pension from the Spanish authorities, as is my legal right as a spanish resident.  They in turn requested Maureen’s NI contributions from the UK, who repeatedly ignored these requests (lying on three occasions that they had sent them) for nearly a year, until the constant phone-calling and hassling from my dear and long-suffering scottish friend Dennis elicited the necessary information from them and the spanish authorities authorised payment on 21st October.

Maureen worked full-time in the UK for 26 years, and under the EU directive that allows EU nationals to live and work in other EU countries these contributions are now due to be paid to me, at a rate of approximately £4000 a year.  After waiting a month for payment to start and discovering nothing I phoned Newcastle to discover that they were not going (and never intended to) pay a penny.  This is totally illegal, but from here there is nothing I or the spanish government can do. I have had no income for two months, and am now facing having to sell EL POCITO in order to buy food. If you can offer positive help please get in touch. Either by email (monkeyandsofia@yahoo.co.uk), allowing a couple of days for me to reply as I have no internet access. Or SMS/ text (00 34 633 731 906) with your email address.  Many thanks in anticipation.  Phil.

 

phil rooksby el pocito 123

On this day a year ago, at 11.30am, my soul-mate Maureen died.

She was the most special and talented person I have ever known, quite literally an angel who had been given the chance to spend a short time on earth as one of us.

I was the lucky one who got to share 35 wonderful years with her, packed full of adventures.

Yet in all that time I never fully appreciated how rare and special her gifts were, which she so freely gave to me and everyone who knew her.

So today I would like to honour her properly, and ask that everyone reading this spends a few moments meditating on their memory of her. Giving thanks for not only for having known such an amazing soul, but that you too have a very special partner (or family) in your life, who loves you just as much.

Phil

phil rooksby el pocito 121

One of the many legacies Maureen left behind when she died, was an unpublished book. She had been working on it for about seven years, under the guidance and encouragement of her good friend and mentor Tim Manderson (editor at Random House and Faber & Faber), honing the masses of stories she had written about the nine years of our travels, into a finished book, ready for publishing (including illustrations for the chapter headings and cover). Sadly Tim died too, just before Maureen, so neither got to see it in print.

If you have read her blogs you will know Maureen had a rare talent. She was a natural born writer (never worked a piece, it just came out fully-formed), and this book is particularly stunning. It would be a crime if others were not able to enjoy it.

Therefore I need to get an agent, to represent the book to the publishing industry. Is there someone out there who could lead me to the right person?

(please don’t send information about self-publishing or e-books)

Look forward to hearing from you. Phil.

Once again I’ve been asked again to write something for the blog, just to let people know that El Pocito and I still exist. Well worry no longer, all is well with both of us.  And after much rain, far earlier than usual, I have at long last been able to get out onto the land and started on the mammoth annual tree-planting task, after missing this important opportunity last year.  Hoping now to get all 300 specimens (currently in pots) into their permanent sites by December, so they have the best chance of putting down roots before the summer heat, just in case I am not here to water.

Next is my latest profound thought, inspired by a just released and wonderful film (WHAT IF), and prompting me to re-consider the future for both me and El Pocito.  When Maureen died, almost a year ago now, the consensus of the hundreds of messages I received was the hope that I would continue with what we had both spent so long searching for and working at (34 years), creating the perfect place to live, based on an edible forest/ self-sufficiency.  And throughout this long hard year that has been a source of great comfort/ strength, except for the one significant difference, her absence.  Because without Maureen the relevance of what we have achieved has often been difficult to appreciate.  Though not once could I imagine living anywhere else either, so many of the factors I now consider vital for happiness and health are here.  But perhaps there has to be another possibility. In a perfect world (where people like Maureen don’t die) I really would like to stay here, forever, nowhere in all my travels have I found anywhere so fantastic.  Alone though this is impossible, so I have been thinking about moving on.  Not in a pro-active way, searching for an alternative, but preparing myself for the possibility should it arise.  Finding that significant other, and where she wants to live elsewhere.  Here is the quote from the film which describes it, far better than I:

Wallace: What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you?

Chantry: My Mom died when I was in Junior High.  She had breast cancer.  You don’t realise how quickly everything can fall apart until it does.  Makes you want to never give up anything good again.

I really hope someone comes forward to join me here, but right now it is as important to be with someone as wonderful as Maureen, wherever that might lead me.

Finally, this month is particularly poignant as this is when Maureen fell into a coma last year (on the 18th of October), then spent the next 10 days asleep at home, until finally an ambulance came on the 28th and she spent her last 12 hours in hospital, dying at 11.30am on Tuesday 29th October.  I hope you will find some time to appreciate the good fortune you have at being well and with a partner who loves you, in her memory.