My little corner.


img_0009Just the other day I realised it’s been almost a year since moving to this house and I still haven’t managed to sort out a space for organising onebag headquarters. How very remiss of me, tsk tsk it’s been a year, really?! Yes really.. So now is the time to get things moving to that minimal heaven, expect shots of arty desk, subdued lighting and trendy tech! Hmmm maybe not, anyway. It’s funny looking back over pictures from my work life over the years (which I was doing the other day whilst auditing my photos) to see how my desk life habits had changed over the course of time and even when I knew nothing about the minimal living movement I was seeing changes going on that subconsciously I was completely unaware of. Growing up and having a Dad who had been in the merchant navy I rebelled against his constant mantra of everything has a place and a place for everything, if that’s the correct saying, with a barrage of chaos and disorganisation. At what point do we assimilate our parents behaviours as I now find myself thinking and acting exactly as my Dad would have done and strangely I now find peace in the fact that I do know where things are and don’t have those gut wrenching moments when one can’t find the car keys or remember where the passport is as it all has its place. Maybe it’s some universal order to the universe, unseen but always constant but maybe that’s getting a bit to deep and analytical it’s just a desk space! But a tidy desk aids an organised mind, why did I fight it for so long. Anyway the point is I’m getting there.

So the next question is whether to buy or make. Obviously tootalling off to IKEA for a load of office furniture would be the easy way out but in my desire to hold on to the resources I have I am going to build what I need from as much free stuff as possible. Now this encompasses many methods of acquisition such as Freecycle, gumtree and my local scavenging friends and maybe a but of skip diving. On a side note one of the things I have wanted to do for a long time is learn how to weld and that would be very useful for making the desk frame and many other ideas I have in the back of my mind. Actually the whole make movement is fascinating to me but that’s a whole other topic. However this will extend out the time to complete my workspace for sure and in the desire to get things sorted and ticked off the list I may settle for a wooden frame to start off with. I have space in the garage once I have managed to re-stack and repack a lot of the stuff that came from the old house so that I can make a mess in there. Like just about all garages around here I have seen into, no one uses them for there original purpose, i.e. parking their cars in, that would be a photo project, to go round clicking the nations garages. First off then is to decorate the room and then plonk new home made furniture in and hey presto. The only thing. I need to buy is a chair and unfortunately I won’t be getting a Herman Millar chair like my last job, oh the comfort! but I hear the Amazon Essential Office Chair is ok for not a bank or back breaking price.

In keeping with the year of minimal I vowed that if I was to buy anything I would need to sell something to pay for it, that way not just adding to the mound of possessions that I am trying to rid myself from but to also make sure that I really needed the new thing and that it was not just a whim. The exception to the rule is Freecycle. This on the face of it seems like a unlimited supply of stuff if one is prepared to go and pick it up however I have managed to stop myself from rushing to get a compound mitre saw and a load of shelves already as they would either not be what I wanted really or replace something I already had, thus just adding to the pile of unnecessary. Again it is freeing not allowing the feeling of being compelled to get things just because they are there.

This post is to partly shame myself into some activity and a record of the state of this space at this time but also to document a home built workspace that doesn’t need to cost a load of cash to do and once finished I can restore order to my desktop once again! That includes getting rid of the rats nest of cabling and drives stacked up on the current setup.

Till next time..

Minimally moveable

It’s been a bit of a struggle to get this post out a couple of days after I had planned to and the first real blip in the onebag blogging efforts. I knew it had to happen at some point. I am surprised I have managed to focus this long and kept it going. However the show must go on as the saying goes and that leads me nicely into the topic of conversation this week, or was that meant to be last week..

Last Wednesday I journeyed south to the Camping and Caravanning show at the NEC centre near Birmingham and the reason for my visit was partly down to the fact I won a couple of tickets thanks to Alde UK in a Twitter competition, on the whole I don’t win things and so with the benefit of free entrance I thought it would be a good opportunity to check out some minimal mobile living spaces. With the cost of housing both in the buying and also the rental markets skyrocketed in the last decade alternative cheaper forms of dwelling are being sought by many, not just those priced out of a roof over their heads but also people interested in living more intentionally and not get sucked into the consumerist dream. I have been giving a lot of consideration to the different forms of mobile living from camper vans, van conversions, caravans, canal boats and also although not quite mobile short term rentals and things like house sitting. But having ones own space however large or small is still ones own space and the joy of coming home is something that most of us take for granted. But looking at these alternatives makes me think what would it actually be like to live in a tiny space for an extended period. There are plenty of van life stories of sun drenched lifestyles, waking up to glorious sunrises and going to sleep with beautiful sunsets but to me the reality seems more like walking up in lay-by with lorries thundering by on a rainy winters morning and what about high winds and many other thoughts? Yes this may be my rather un-educated view but the reality is only something that can be lived to be experienced.

Back to the show and the the vans in all there formats that peaked my interest. As someone who knows virtually nothing about touring or caravanning or van life as have always flown to my holidays but now considering a mobile home it is amazing to what is on offer, not just the manufactured models but also the conversions. Now I also understand that these moving palaces are really aimed at a weekend wanderers or traditional get away breaks and may not necessarily be aimed at the full time live-aboard traveller. However with a minimal mentality space would not seem to be a problem with even the most compact of vans that I saw. Then there is a question or what is suitable for ones needs and the relative user requirements that can be summarised in good video by Andrew Ditton. But the fact that all these vehicles can be hired in some way and can be experienced to help

Then there is the van conversion market and browsing around Youtube will show you many examples of the amazing ingenuity of there builders. So the premise of picking a standard commercial van and slapping a micro flat inside depending on the model is certainly build for more rugged use. However the technologies and materials are readily available through the mature market of the caravan and motorhome suppliers. So many of the the amenities found in modern caravans are now easily purchased for a van build. Alde is case in point, on visiting their stand at the show I got a plumbing and heating catalogue with all their products which effectively brings a home heating system into a van, in fact theres nothing you can’t find to make your own little space comfy, clean and warm.

So finally some quick pics of some of the vans I took inspiration from. There is however a lot to be said for being able to change the scenery with the day.

Podcast roundup.

I thought I would highlight podcasts here this week as i have been streamlining my feed with the ongoing year of less. I am still surprised that there are many who either don’t know about podcasts or who have never tried them out. I would say that they are one of the things that have helped keep my sanity, passing time whilst waiting for all sorts of things. when I first started listening to them on my daily commute in London they were informing and educating about a whole plethora of subjects from travel, health, tech and although I hate the word, lifestyle. If memory serves me correctly I started out with macpowerusers one night on the 141 bus in central London with the usual grinding commute home and that opened up a whole new world for me and very quickly there weren’t enough hours in the day to listen to my backlog of content. To me it is just like listening to the radio but it’s a stream of content that I want and not having to wait for the programs you like or want to listen to come round on the good ol’ radio. Yes there are catchup services now but they are no where near as useful as podcast downloaded to ones media player of choice and at the time there was noting really like it. Obviously the quality of the podcast is an important factor but now with decent quality kit not costing the earth it is relatively easy to create them on a kitchen table or in a bedroom, It doesn’t have to sound like someone’s coming from the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Amazingly there are people that produce regular shows and episodes with nothing but a mobile phone. But on the whole the level of production needs to be considerably less complicated and therefore opens and democratises the whole process.

Once only the territory of usually public broadcast programming there a of a lot of niche topics and conversations that can be found whether you are into current events, hustling or backyard bodging. The fact that YouTube is now so dominant not as a search engine in its own right but also in the online media doesn’t mean that podcasts are waning away, on the contrary they are starting to boom. People obviously, myself included, like to listen as we do other things and in this modern era of everything always on we are now able to choose how and when we consume. There is something about the spoken word that is relaxing and undemanding much like the radio of old also and I guess depending on the podcast one likes and identifies with the voices of the host(s). There is also the added benefit to podcast listening that you can choose to listen or not. From the very beginning I always used to listen religiously not missing a minute but then as time went by I realised that skipping the bits that were and I use this word advisedly, uninteresting to me didn’t make me a bad person and it gives me more time to listen to more podcasts, at least I don’t listen at double speed!

So what to listen to? Well my playlist includes a variety of genres and really the best place to start is the Apple podcast directory which is now in its own app, but also available on Mac and PC via the iTunes Store on these respective platforms. It is the most complete list that I have come across although there are other alternatives. Apple really championed podcasts long before it became popular and so far seemingly uninterested in controlling this medium. The benefit of looking at iTunes is that it also offers recommendations for similar podcasts in that group. I talk about iTunes and the Apple ecosystem as I have an iPhone and started listening to podcasts on that platform however there are alternatives for Android though I am not aquatinted with this. So what follows is a selection of ones that I listen to or have listened to in the past and is by no means extensive.

Life (now finished but some great stuff in there if your into tiny homes)


A bit of tech, but I won’t bore you.. (productivity and tech) (Apple related tech and interviews)

As for podcatchers I have tried just about all of them including Apple’s App, Downcast, Castro, Pocketcasts and others (these can all be found on the iOS App Store) but have settled with Overcast as that has some features(Smart Speed especially) that I like and I like the fact there are ads at the bottom for other podcasts, funny when we spend most of out time trying avoid ads.

One things for sure, you can easily go down the rabbit hole on this one. See where it takes you if you haven’t tried a podcast out..

Till next time..

Maiden voyage.

img_5052This may not be the most exciting of posts out there in internetland but for me it is the beginning of my move to a mobile life. In a lot of ways there seems to be little difference to this day than any other day as I have spent most of my adult life living out of suitcases and boxes. Work and life took me here there and almost everywhere never really settling anywhere always on the move so the idea of no fixed abode is not daunting to me. When you travel light there is not much to hold you back in the places you can go and the lighter the nimbler. This kind of life is not for everyone and I sometimes wonder if I will carry it on for ever as maybe in the twilight years one wants comfort and stability. But for now I am prep for where the wind will take me next, whether that is down the street or to the other side of the world.

Just going to visit friends is no big occurrence but the opportunity to work out how much stuff is needed for a weekend away when one has a car to ram stuff into is not really an incentive to travel light. Having like I said spent allot of my life travelling for work I was very use to having a regulated luggage due to hoping on and off planes frequently, but looking back I can see that I probably could have traveled will way less stuff and still managed to operate as a normal citizen of society. But the desire now to minimise all that I travel with is an interesting experiment it what is seemingly on the boundaries of social acceptance. I’m not about to say I am going to live in the same clothes for a week but the need to take a change for everyday now seems somewhat extravagant. I also wonder how many people actually notice that you have worn the same clothes for two days in a row. Obviously environment plays a big part in all this and if I was doing exerting work outdoors all day long then it would be a different matter but for this weekend I decided to try out taking the smallest bag I could find thus limiting the volume. I discounted my walking boots as there’s no way I would put them in any bag normally and I wasn’t about to start trying to drive with them but that was the only concession. The interesting thing about it was with some ingenious rolling and combining the clothing part took up a lot less space, the bulk of the space was taken up with the tech gear and toiletries. This got me to thinking with careful use just how much shower gel would one of the 100ml travel bottles last. Hmmm yes this maybe becoming a bit obsessional me thinks, but it is actually an interesting avenue of thought that in this day and age of mass consumption going in the opposite direction is seen as somewhat anarchic but it wasn’t that long ago that our parents or grandparents were living an unintentional minimalist life where there was very limited resources and one had to make do. I don’t think that we will necessarily go back to a time like that but I think that there maybe a time when resources that we take for granted are in some sort of restriction, just take the chick pea shortage as a kind of example of the moment. But the whole point of all of this is that actually I probably need a lot less of everything, not just the stuff I am carrying around with me.

I’ll leave with a pic of a lighthouse, and try not to utter to many cliches about lighting the way etc etc. I’m looking forward to my next outing and pondering using other modes of transport to my goal.

Writing regularly..

Today’s post highlights the effort that goes into blogging on a regular basis. Now i know I’m an infant when it comes to all of this and have never kept any blogging efforts going longer than maybe a couple of months. I guess I never really found a thing that I was really into talking about and this is the key to it all. Many of the internet gurus proclaim that you should be passionate about and crush the things you are blogging about and to a certain extent I agree but one really has to go with the flow of what your trying to say. For me I have no idea where this is going to lead me as I started writing it more as life journal and also a self help manual to plan for a particular event. But the interesting thing to me is the organic growth of the blog just in this short time and the ideas that it has thrown up just by bashing out a post every week consistently. The last time I did any and I use the term loosely creative writing was back in school, where I was never any good at mastering the written word probably due to a very light form of dyslexia, although no one knew of it or called it such.

But one of the things uncovered in relocating the family home was a pile of old school books and looking back through them brought back many memories not least the “Lord Nelson”English project and some short stories that I had completely forgotten about. But the enthusiasm for the writing is obvious and I can see that the writing was purely there to get the ideas across. Fast forward to the current day and I feel that the same applies now as it did then. The enjoyment should come through the writing and not the other way round. Yes there will be times when the juices don’t flow and there is a dose of writers block but on the whole I think like any task in life if you keep consistently chipping away at it rewards will be forthcoming. Many talk of “drudging through the drudgery” and that’s how I see it went the hearts not in it or just time is running out to meet myself imposed deadline.

I aslo want to improve my writing skills as grammar and punctuation were always a foreign language to me and although the smart phone and computer can correct a lot of the basic errors it does not help with getting the right sentences out and can’t actually write it for you mores the shame though I have been experimenting with dictation on the phone and it is reasonably good but not to be trusted for more than a sentence at a time. This is more about improving a skill and in order to do that you need to do more of it!

Until next week where there will be some real world experience for obol and not just the written word..

Taking a different line.

fullsizeoutput_62eI was scheduled to write a completely different story for today’s post. I thought I was being all very organised and focused, keeping the blogging going and that I had the next 4-6 weeks planned out and then out of the blue came a knock at the the door and a packaged thrust into my hands by our friendly postie, actually it must have seemed a bit like a reception committee as there were three of us standing around talking near the door when the bell chimed. What could it be? I wasn’t expecting anything apart from some jiffy bags for sending off the rapidly dwindling pile of stuff I have been getting rid of. It is always exciting or for some anxious making receiving the unknown but for me the excitement out weighted the angst. Within a moment I was looking at an Apple Pencil, My initial reaction was to think “what the……?” as there was no message, no evidence of where it had been sent from and no way of knowing for what reason I had been selected to receive this wonderful gift. As the excitement wore off the realisation that a pencil without a pad is useless right? So then I am left with a thought going through my head “could it, could it really be.. accompanied by er well one of those fancy new iPad Pro thingamajigs. So now I am sitting at kitchen table scratching my head as to what happens next when the phone rings. I’ll cut a long story short and spare you the conversation from the phone suffice to say that I have been gifted the above mentioned iPad for helping out someone who had been though a rough time and wanted to show there gratitude in a way that they thought I would appreciate. It’s funny how life twists and turns and I am now wondering if my luck is like a procession  of London buses (Number 6’s for the bus geeks out there) as not long ago I was gratefully receiving a camera and now a tablet, what could be next? winning lottery numbers? Suffice to say that I was a little bit overcome over this random act of generosity however I always remembered my grandfather saying “accept the gift in the manner it is given” to which I have done.

So how does this all tie in the the onebagonelife project? Well for a start off it takes up way less space and weight over my now ageing MacBook Pro which seems to weigh the equivalent of a breeze block compared to these modern Mac computers. A slight aside, I am trying to find a new home for my Crumpler bag collection as I have the Goldilocks range of messenger bags,  now with none of them really being right for me so I have bunged them on that popular auction site but have had no takers, what is wrong with the bagistas of North London?! All this to say that I had to ditch my Crumpler addiction for a far more sensible and subdued backpack due to developing back problems from seemingly lumping around what most people thought was the weight of a planet when I was in the big smoke. I will keep the baby bag which will hold the iPad nicely and hopefully have no side effects.

But I digress and getting back to the reason for this post I am now looking at a much more compact digital office. However I am not getting rid of the old stalwart just yet as there are a couple of things that I just can’t do on a pad, yet. But the plan is to be able to downsize the office to a much more manageable space. Without going into the tech side of things this is a step up for me and I am looking forward to seeing how it responds to the tasks that I carry out at the moment much of which is pretty lightweight usage. One of the things I will be very interested to see is how well I can view media on it. It will never take the place of a lovely big screen but I am curious to know how much of an alternative to my laptop screen it is. It really is a brave new world for me and one that I have not had to risk my own resources to gain exposure to the iPad life style. Hooray to that.

I know there are plenty that run their lives and businesses from iPads (some I follow on podcasts) and I am curious to see how this will change my habits and productivity. I know that it cannot replace a desktop for pure power and many in the media world will say it’s not a really tool more of a play thing but I am sure that anything I attempt will never be on that level anyway.


The biggest thing about this amazing gift is the Pencil it’s self. I have always been a doodler, in meetings, in trains planes and automobiles (one of my desert island films) and just about anywhere else when I have an idle moment. Now don’t mistake me for someone who has any talent at this but what I do do I get enjoyment from. With the ability to now create digital sketches that can be saved away for prosperity and not just chucked into the blue recycle bag I am really excited to see what I can achieve. There is so much talent out there on the net that really show off the possibilities of iPad art all I am hoping to do is improve my efforts a little bit. Yes I know the “real” artists say that it isn’t real art but then I’m sure they said that about Van Gogh and Monet.

So let the fun begin and expect the next week in pics to come to you from a rather crispy new iPad Pro.