Some of my plans for this year.

Now Christmas has been and gone and the last turkey and or ham sandwich has been eaten, the final chocolate consumed and the tree decorations put away in the old suitcase it is time to get back on with life, hooray. So far in this blog I have on the whole just been talking about or planning to do things but in 2018 it is the year for doing. I don’t make new year resolutions preferring to make changes by writing down things I want to add to my life when they occur to me rather than giving up a bunch of stuff on the 1st of the year only to have failed a few short days, weeks or months down the line. I also like the planning part of any goal or “journey” and although I suppose you could go into detail of say giving up chocolate, these ideas don’t come to you on the last day of the year, more likely it is triggered by other things that happen throughout the year. But having an outline of what one wants to complete is a good starting point. There are now so many ways to manage your life, goals, plans and just about anything else electronically that it can be somewhat overwhelming. Who remembers 43 Things I loved it for it’s notion and the way it worked but unfortunately it went away and yes I do know it popped up again under a different flag but I am taking a more personal view of my progress and trying to cut down on my digital commitment. The less places I have to check, remember passwords and post to just makes life easier and simpler.

What are my plans then? well some are things that I have just recently dreamt up and some are activities that I have been thinking about for years but have never gotten round to doing. These are probably the most hardest to complete due to complexity or cost or both. However I have thought a way round it and am where possible trying to break them up into more ‘doable’ bits. Also I am deliberately not trying to overload myself with more things that I know I wont be able to achieve, more like grabbing the low hanging fruits, not what all those cutting and thrusting motivation gurus would be telling me to do. Lets cut to the chase and get me to put down in writing or should that be typing some of these things that I want to do this year.

  1. A Section of Pennine Way
  2. Camping – Starting off small
  3. Car camper – Can it be done?

As you can see I am being rather vague about these individual goals and deliberately so. I have some idea of incorporating some or all of these to achieve one or more of the goals and I have picked a theme to run with for the year. It has been a long standing desire of mine to complete a long distance hike and until relatively recently I could never find the time to even think about doing one probably more like I never really made the effort to organise doing it. A series by on the good old BBC with Paul Rose ignited the idea again after doing a short stretch of the 109 mile Cotswold Way with relatives over from Canada last year. I picked the Pennine Way as it was something I was aware of and being close to at a young age through my Scouting days. I tried to enthuse others to go along with my crazy plan but most of the adults thought it was mad idea and were not going to let us go wandering off on our own through hill and dale. The fire was lit and has been smouldering away ever since and with every trip North passing through the limestone peaks and dales just reminded me that ‘one day’. As the path passes not that far away I should in theory be able to complete this reasonably easily with the assistance of public transport and a tent. This leads me on to the second goal, and one that I loved doing back in the day. Tramping out with your home and provisions on ones back made for a sense of true explorer even though we were on the whole probably no further that in site of our village and home, but it was exciting and fun. Camping is also the ultimate tiny home life as you can only own what you can carry, now this is something I don’t want to necessarily explore too much but the idea of having a mobile home that can been wherever you want to be and can get to a lot of places many other forms of tiny homes can’t is fascinating.

In conjunction with the camping I have had an idea to either walk or cycle via the canal network to see my friends in Wales which is around a 100+ mile journey from here and would be quite a trip. But that is somewhat extraneous to the core goals I set for myself this year but it never harms to have a backup plan!

Finally, car camping, this is the most challenging for me as the car is a tiny little Ford where you can barely spread ones arms out to either side of oneself. However it is an important precursor to getting a van as my view if one can survive in a car then a van would be luxury. I have been thinking about this and noodling some ideas up in Sketchup to see what is possible and with the back seat taken out there should be sufficient flat space to create a bed platform and storage for the essentials. But I need to carry out some works in the garage first to make space so I can get car in to work on in relative comfort. But this would definitely increase the range of my hiking trips. I will document this as I go along but I don’t expect this to really get started till the warmer weather returns in the spring.

I do have other goals that are not really part of core goals but are no less important or exciting to me. There’s the desire to learn a language via the wonders of Duolingo, for the record I am learning German as I was taught this briefly by mein Großmutter and a little at school but I wasn’t at all interested in learning then which is a shame as I had the perfect opportunity. I have a wish to return to Switzerland and travel on the Glacier Express and some of the other Mountain railways and so a smattering of German would be useful. Then there is a very deep seated desire to learn to fly. Thats been there ever since I can remember and with a family full of pilots I was always drawn to the air. One of my earliest memories was being taken to Biggin Hill airshow and the roar of a low flying Spitfire. This is somewhat of a pipe dream as I am fully aware of a) the cost of learning and b) cost of continuing but hey a boy can dream.

Anyway I will leave you with a pic of the first walk of 2018 and hope you follow your goals and don’t let making resolutions hold you back.

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One bag, or is it a Russian doll?

fullsizeoutput_4e5I have been looking out for something suitable to be the basis of my onebagonelife experiment and as luck would have it I was donated this handsome suitcase by a generous donor who had used it for a few years but now felt they needed new. I had expected to have to buy a suitcase and looking around there is so much choice that it was a bit overwhelming so am happy in a way I don’t have to trawl the internet for reviews and posts about the best suitcase that would fit my needs. I had no idea that there were some many different types and the cost of some is staggering when you consider how much use one is normally likely to get out of it. For those few weeks away a year is it really worth spending many hundreds of pounds to keep ones clothes safe, well yes I know its more than that but… Maybe it’s me but I have never travelled with excessive quantities of stuff and for some time I have always attempted to travel with a minimum install, relying on the flexible friend to provide for anything I may have forgotten or overlooked. I had a friend who jokingly opined that all you needed to travel with was a toothbrush and a credit card, however this is just not practical in everyday life unless you want to be wasteful and end up with a mountain of stuff you may only have used a handful of times and I’m sure he didn’t live by his own credence. Certainly travelling with the bare minimum is practical as there are not many places that one travels to that services like washing or some spare items of clothing can’t be found.

But as I am not using the suitcase for that purpose it is not a problem for me, it is rather that it is my wardrobe, bathroom cabinet, bookshelf, writing desk, box of bits under the bed and many other things all rolled into one. Just how much it will hold I have no idea as I have not started to rationalise what I actually want to have with me at any given moment. There are the basics and as I have said in a previous post I will have a collection of items that I want to keep for either sentimental reasons or that will move with me to where I settle for longer periods that won’t be kept in the bag. However this needs to be small as I don’t want to clutter up my families space(s) to the point they don’t want to look after it for me.

So the more compact I can make the contents of my suitcase the better. I have this idea that it is a Swiss Army knife of storage, not including that “thing to take stones out of horses hoofs” though, but more like it has the necessary equipment for different modes of living. As an example I have a day sack that can be used for hiking and the individual items can be swopped around depending on location and season but only is used on those occasions but things in it will also be used for daily life. Or, if I am staying somewhere for a prolonged period I have items to make it seem more like a home. This may seem very optimistic and I may have grossly over estimated the capacity to hold my life but this is the fun of finding out. Can one get set of bedding and such in on top of all the clothing etc. That’s where vacuum packing comes in and something I will be covering at a later date.

One aspect I am thinking about is the cost of replacement of all my worldly goods and chattels in the event of some disaster. If one is not attached to the ‘things’ then replacing is purely a logistics operation and with that in mind I set up an Amazon wish list with every item I have or am putting in the bag so that not only do I have an idea of the monetary value but also an easy and quick way to replace any lost item(s). It is also interesting to analyse what is actually important and what is nice to have. I think given that I will have very little space to have frivolous items this sharpens the mind to each individual item and its use and whether it may have multiple uses. I think this is where intentionalism is highlighted over minimalism as I am not living with nothing I am choosing very carefully the things I do own. It is a bit of a grey area to me but I prefer to think of this as an intentional choice.

This then leads to the need to have a buffer fund for replacement. Calculating this cost highlights that certainly the largest portion of the pie chart comes from the tech related kit. However there are always alternatives, but given that I am not going to be wasting loads trying to keep up with the latest I can be far more careful in how purchases need to be made.

I have been watching quite a lot of light weight camping channels and have been thinking how can I transpose the method in to day to day life. On the whole no one considers the weight of their household items but when you have to carry it around it makes a difference. There are many optimisations one can make but from what I see it comes at a cost. For the time being I will stick with what I have and maybe look at upgrading inventory as and when I can.

My plan to start off with is to have 14 days worth of general clothing and 3 items of weather proof gear and coats. However I hope to make these as light and compact as possible. This may prove way too much but only experience will tell. I know I am going to have to cut back somewhere but only by trying will I find out what works for me.

So onebagonelife has a bag!

 

Downsize, dump, declutter – Making space for a new life.

pileoboxesWith so many places to turn to for advice on reducing the “stuff” it is some what confusing and overwhelming to which the lengths people will go to minimise their lives and the advice they expound around the ways one can achieve this minimal nirvana. I have been spending some considerable time looking around at all the different strands of this meme and in typical me fashion like to pick and choose the bits I want to take from them and amalgamate into my own hybrid system. I guess you would say I have minimal tendencies but I don’t necessarily buy into it wholeheartedly. For me, a typical Taurean, home and comfort are an important part of life and I feel comfiest when surrounded by familiar and sentimental things. But on this new adventure I am throwing out the norms and accepted ways of living to look at an alternative, one with fewer possessions and fewer responsibilities.

It is hard to throw things away unless you are naturally un-possesive. We all collect throughout our lives, from the collections of toys as a child to those of bicycles, books, games, clothing or whatever it is that fills our heads. But there comes a point when you realise that you are never going to complete that one last thing and it as at that point we switch our collecting tendencies to some other focus or collection. It is human nature it would seem to hoard things much like in the animal kingdom. However animals hiding there prizes away is usually for the very practical purpose for feeding them selves through a time of famine. Collecting computer junk in my case has no benefit to me at any time. Although I do probably have enough kettle leads to boil twenty eight kettles in case I needed an emergency cup of tea. I always looked at people who had little and thought how empty their lives must be, but this was purely the product of an upbringing of not throwing things away out of practically or from a view of it’s artistic value and being at the beginning of the consumer boom where credit was easy. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t believe or plan to live in a whitened room with one chair in the middle and northing else, far from it. I have naturally been attracted to bright colours and will choose bright over muted or dark any day of the week. I am getting back round to the point I am trying to make but felt it is important to emphasise that minimal doesn’t have to be grey, bland, monotone or consist of nothingness at all. It is far more about quality over quantity and by that I mean not just the actual quantity but more so about the whole force guiding life. It’s not about nothing, it’s more about something. Something you get value from, something that gives you joy or something that is purely functional. Ultimately “we” are the judges of that and it is all to easy to say that everything we own is valuable in some way, but when we question the need for a possession we can calculate its’ value. In front of me sits eight memory sticks, do I really need all of them. No, four would easily be enough however the feeling of comfort of these things give continues the desire to have them. This is just one example of a repeating scenarios set out in front of and around me.

Near to me sits a pile of boxes that is the result of a number of different culls in recent times however this is not the end, in fact it is really just the beginning. I thought I had reached the point at which I had all the things that were important to me and that I couldn’t really do without. Having moved twice since the experiment was first started I could see that I don’t actually need many things that once I held dear. Paring down the possessions is a somewhat traumatic task as although the downsizing gurus seem to portray it as a painless task I have to say that for me getting rid of things that in some cases I had held on to for decades were not easy decisions, but the more times I did it the easier it got. Once I had decided on the three pile rule; 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, it made it easier to abandon the things that were no longer giving any value, joy or what ever term we want to insert here. The notion that if you haven’t used it in a year it is of no use to you is a good one in my mind. One month is more questionable but then as you start honing your disposal skills you find that it is much more effortless to jettison stuff. Even the one week rule becomes an investigation of the real use and purpose of that item. I look at a mug full of pencils, pens, eraser etc and think I have used all of these but really how many of them have been used purely because they were nearest to me. I daren’t mention the two shoe boxes I have stashed with assorted stationary cupboard “finds” over the years. But hey, I am downsizing them via donation to anybody that will take them.

The goal is to greatly reduce the number of boxes but at the moment I don’t have a figure in my mind as to how many more that I will know when I have the right amount. I have been seeing online some pretty radical adoptions of this goal and although I initially set out to accomplish a similar task I have mellowed a little with the intent to live with seemingly nothing. The original idea was to be limited to a number of items that would fit in one bag. But thinking about this and the future, made me realise I still want to retain a number of things that will remain with family for later collection. Living a minimal way of life doesn’t mean having to live with nothing, therefore I will mostly be living with one bag day to day but when time comes to settle I will have those treasured, meaningful items with me.

So let the ebaying, donating and dumping begin… again!

One Life One Bag – More or less

Birth of a blog

Why is it.

In order to get the ball rolling and to tie myself down to actually committing to ’this’ I started off with a pretty perfunctory overview of what the blog was really about. Now with a bit more time this is an attempt to set out a bit of a map of where this journey is going to take me. As I alluded to in my first post it is really a dry run, a practice, I am also trying to pull together all the different strands that I have been contemplating. I really have no idea where this will take me and it is somewhat daunting as it will take me far outside my comfort zone. Stepping out of the channel of ‘normal’ life is challenging as all around you don’t necessarily understand what or why you are doing it. I do see this as a fluid and ever changing experience. Not that this is a temporary occurrence but like many temporary things in life they can become more permanent. This reminds me of a saying a work colleague had that went along the lines of “nothing as permanent as temporary”. In order to be able to adapt quickly one has to move quickly. Who knows how the current political climate will effect travel but there is always a way.

Having seen the better part of life from the contents of a suitcase living out of one bag may not be as restrictive as one first suspects. I have never really settled anywhere and I am not sure if that is to do with moving at an early age or whether it is because I naturally have nomadic tendencies. I have always struggled with the grass is greener syndrome. But for many reasons stuck to what was expected. I now realised that I missed out on quite a few experiences that should have been taken. However the past is in the past. What matters is now and how choices are made. A long time ago I watched “The Dice-man” with my best mate thinking that would be a great way to live. Now with some time to look back it probably wouldn’t have been the best idea. I have thought about incorporating it in a limited way. The idea of chance and randomness appeals and certainly make for more interesting decisions.

However I now want to experience life from some different angles and in order to do this there must be no ballast.

What is it

I have started to downsize my possessions and am using the three pile rule; keep, assess and chuck. This is really to work out what I really want to keep. Although I am going to have one bag I plan to have maybe one to two boxes of items that I will store with family. These are for the things I really don’t want to part with but don’t want to take on my journey. They will be there for when I settle. As you can see from the pic there is not a huge amount of stuff compared to what I have even three years ago. I am also trying to employ the daily T1TC1T rule too. This stands for “tidy one thing, chuck one thing” and is something I dreamt up. There are a multitude of practitioners in the art of downsizing and living intentionally and I have taken bits from here and there in order to make my own plan. This helps me to keep focused on the task in small but consistent steps.

One of the things that I am finding about planning and researching this is that I am excited about these ideas that are springing. New things keep popping into my head. All of which get noted down on a sticky and filed for later even if I think they are foolish. I have to try and be focused as the tendency is to go off on tangents and not complete whats started. Some of the ideas to explore include:-

Camping & Caravanning

Small Living

Live aboard boat life

Van Life

Alternative Living

Backpacking

Tiny houses

Obviously not all of these can be done at the same time but I wont to see if I can experience as much of it as I can. I also want to travel to far flung places. It was no were near as common to travel when I was growing up and i missed out on a lot of the gap year and backpacking culture that is really normal now. But as I sit writing this I think of all the sites, blogs, channels that have and are documenting there journeys and think is it worth documenting my story. The point is that every story is unique and mine will be too. I am not doing this with any expectation apart from hoping to show that life is truly what you make it. Trust me I have wasted far too much time in search of the something I didn’t really want. But now with this blog it’s all about to change. I am not launching off into the unknown.

When is it

At the moment I am just putting ideas together for mini testing purposes. However I am thinking about a couple of short trips in the new year to try out my ideas. I need to accumulate some kit and liquidise unwanted possessions but the need to do this on a low if not minimum budget is a test and also fun. Winter is a time of hibernation but that wont stop me as ultimately this path will lead me to some exposed living.

So until the next time..