Tuesday 14 May 2013

Living Simply

At the moment I am in full swing, simplifying our lives and our possessions, and with the prospect of hopefully, having found our 'forever home' I can visualise what we have in the rooms of our new house. 
It is a lovely simply shaped house that has recently been refurbished to what looks like a very good standard.  There are three bedrooms one of which we will need to use as our office, and downstairs next to the living room is an open plan kitchen/dining/conservatory room.  (Sorry but I am not tempting fate by putting any photos of the house on here until we have the keys in our grubby little mitts!!)  When we move in we intend to keep it simple, as simple as we possibly can.
For some reason this plan brought back to mind the house in these photos.  It was at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, which is in Chichester and which I visited with Mum when we were on holiday together last year.  The whole place fascinated me, seeing how folk had lived through the ages and we spent many happy hours walking round the houses that had been real homes to so many people.
The house in these photos was the 'youngest' house on the site, I'm sorry I can't remember from what year exactly but they were built and lived in from the late 1800's.  (It, and it's adjoining semi are called Whittaker's Cottages if you have a look on the website.)  Things didn't change much from this time, especially in the countryside until after the two world wars and so many of the items in this cottage I could remember from in my grannies houses.
This is what living used to be like. 
 For normal folk you lived like this, no house full of things you might use once in a while, just a house containing the day to day necessities of life.
You worked to pay the rent and feed your family, you bought what you could afford to buy, there were no credit cards or adverts to tempt you to buy what you really didn't need.

Times were hard for so many folk I know, there are no rose tinted glasses that can make the past seem all sunny and light, but in many ways life was lived more.
If you wanted something, you made it, whether it was food or furniture.  If you wanted access to fresh fruit and vegetables you grew them in your own back garden or bartered with your neighbour, you couldn't wander the aisles of a large supermarket throwing into your trolley exotic fruits from other countries.
Children shared bedrooms, and played outside with each other, ball games, skipping, building dens and playing tig.  They treasured the toys that they were given (again usually handmade) for birthdays or Christmas and didn't expect something every week like so many seem to now.  Learning to knit with Mum or with Gran was more fulfilling than any solitary computer game played for hours in the loneliness of your own room.
And yes there are a lot of beds in this room, in the brochure it said that this house had been home for a family with Mum and Dad, a young baby sharing their bedroom and six children and plus a toddler in a cot sharing this other bedroom. Topping and tailing being the only way to sleep.

I loved the productive veggie patch in the small back garden.

I didn't love quite so much the outdoor 'facilities'.
Now there's no way we would trying to recreate this type of living at our new house, we will have running water, central heating, space for us and guests to be able to sleep comfortably.  But what I want to take from these pictures and the images still fresh in my head from the visit to this wonderful Museum is a way of living.
Working for ourselves to produce what we need for ourselves, producing just enough extra to give us an income and of being satisfied with what we have.  Of spending time doing things we love, not shopping for things we don't need.  Going a few steps backwards is not always a bad thing, especially when you look at folk that have already taken more steps forward and seeing the dissatisfaction in their lives with what they have and what they are for some reason, still striving to get more of.
We live pretty simply at the moment and it's starting to feel really good, but we are still in that jettisoning stage where we are realising how much we were suckered in to acquiring things to fill spaces and feeling the need to get rid of them to get back that space.  Another car boot sale or two and we will really be there.
Living simply really is the only way forward for us and this Year of Less is working in so many ways.
Sue xx



  1. This strikes a chord with me as I contemplate a future, if I am lucky, in which I would move house quite often - the less to move the better. I love the simplicity of "old fashioned" houses, and my uncle's house is a case in point - peaceful and serene with just the items he needs and not a lot more.

  2. Yes, this resonates with me too - that thing of having "what you need" rather than "what you might need, one day".
    The museum looks fascinating - I'll have to note that one down somewhere.

  3. This is a scene from my childhood if you add a tap in the kitchen that drew water from our well, I can still remember the excitement when the tap was connected and the pump turned on. Before that we used to wind the water up in a bucket. I probably have most of the kitchen cutlery from that drawer, in daily use, from my Granny. There is nothing wrong with simple living.

  4. That house reminded me so much of my childhood on our small holding, the only difference was we had a coke fired raeburn in what was the living kitchen. Table and chairs and a couple of easy chairs by the range. Lino on the floor and clippy mats. We did have an electric stove for the summer when the raeburn was not lit. A 'best room'. The sitting room which was only used on high days and holidays, fireplace, cosy chairs and the piano in the corner, A big mahogany dining table in the window alcove. We had two bedroom and I had a bedroom at one end of the attic, which was also used as an apple store in the winter. It was too cold for me to sleep up there in the winter, so then I slept in the samll bedroom at the back of the bungalow.

    Happy days.............

  5. Like yourself and the other commenters here I love these pictures of this little cottage. The simplicity is so appealing. The more kitchen and other cupboards you have the more unnecessay stuff it is just too easy to fill them with. To be honest we probably only use 20% of the things we own regularly. Imagine just how much emptier and easier to manage would our home be if we just got rid of the rest and liberated ourselves. I admire you for the paring down exercise you are engaging in and wish I could be as determined in my efforts. Good luck with the buying your 'forever home', I hope all goes well and am interested to see more pictures of your new home when you have bought it. We had a holiday in mid wales and it was fabulous, I envy you.

  6. don't tempt fate Sue!
    ps I've still got everything crossed

  7. We went to the Weald and Downland museum a few years ago as part of the research into restoring our previous house. It is a fascinating place.

  8. Amen to all of that Sue. We went to said museum and few years ago and found it fascinating. My grandparents lived in Lincoln (actually well into the city) and although they had an indoor toilet, the outdoor one got most use (it was the only one we were allowed to use when we visited). Our grand dad used to empty the bucket into a big hole in the garden, threw soil on top and kept filling it up. He then left that patch alone for about a year then it went into the food garden. Didn't do us any harm, his veggies were wonderful. Love the look of the are you are interested in. We have just come back from Radnorshire, lovely area too.

  9. We lived much like that house at the Weald and Downland when I was a child, including the outside privy over a pit! It got moved every 6 months and the hole filled in - and that was a veg bed a couple of years later.

    We had only well water ( wound up by hand), a tin bath in front of the fire and a range to cook on - my poor Mum managed with this for threee years before wDad fitted some "mod cons" like plumbing! But it was what she had been used to so she knew how to manage.

    I wouldn't go back that far, but I agree a lot less "stuff" is the way to a much happier existance imo.

    I have fingers, toes and everything I can crossed you get your "forever" home - just sad it is not nearer to us!

    S xxx

  10. So pleased that you have chosen a new place to live.... Was it the house in Norfolk? I have been living in Norfolk for over 30 years. It's a beautiful place to live. I recognise lots of stuff in these photos that I have/had in my own home for the last thirty years or so. I furnished my first house, a victorian terrace in Norwich, entirely from auctions. In the days that victorianna was dirt cheap! Good luck, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that it all goes through okay and look forward to photos. Blogging at www.countryidyll.co.uk

  11. Very well said. As I'm sorting through my house clearing 15 years worth of accumulated stuff I'm loving the light feeling of selling things, donating them to charity, freecycling etc. My next house will be a much simpler existence. My now adult kids will just have to get more used to it. I'm also crossing my fingers for you :)

  12. I hope all goes well for you...I've gotten some great ideas from reading here and I'm still working on simplifying. Thanks.

  13. As always a very inspiring post and that house represents simple living. We are trying to teach our boys that toys are to be treasured and that they will only get them for a birthday or Christmas but it is a struggle when they go to school with other children that are bought things on a regular basis. I am more of an upcycler but I do get sucked into buying magazines that lure me into purchasing something that we don't really need. We are slowly getting rid of things and I don't bring as much in any more, I tend to just buy things from car boots etc to put aside in my presents cupboard ready for Christmas and birthdays x

  14. Keeping everything crossed you get that new home you are hoping for. We downsized a few years ago .... it is so relaxing living with less 'stuff'. It's hard at first to let go, and if you have many collections, as we did, it takes a long time. But it is worth it for the pure simplicity. It's freedom! x

  15. I love it! We have a new house too and are under renovation with it. The plan is for this to be our forever home and we are very carefully considering everything that goes to the new place. Anything we don't absolutely love and use is just not going to make the cut. Sometimes more is just more! :)

  16. Actually. Sometimes. I rather fancy just putting a match to it *all*......and walking away....

  17. I like your disposition in life, Sue! This is what seems to be forgotten by many these days: to live simply. There is nothing wrong with innovation as long as you set a limit to it. Anything that is excessive is, after all, harmful. I hope you get this house and start the life you want to live. Keep on inspiring!

    Levi Ervin

  18. I was hoping the first room pictured was of your potential house! Then I read the blog! I do love its age and simplicity, and am striving for that.
    I love your blog. Thanks for all the thought and effort you put into it! Off to clean stalls....

  19. Good post. My great grandparents lived in a house like that, two bedrooms. The parents shared the front room by having a curtain separating their half from the three girls. Then they had four boys in the other room. How things differ today !!

  20. Good luck with the new home! I think for me, the big difference is between want and need. I ask myself a lot if I really need something, nine times out of ten the answer is no! And my life is a lot more simple because of that :)
    Best wishes.

  21. Love the post. We used to live quite close to the Museum so are very familiar with it, and I have always liked the idea of simple country living. We have simplified our life a great deal in the last year or so (to enable us to spend far more time travelling) and have never been happier. We do not have TV, and I have been able to spend time reading, crafting and generally relaxing and am a much better person because of it (I hope!). I am glad you are finding the experience fulfilling; on the autumn we have the joy of a major declutter of our belongings that were put in storage last March, just as you have recently been doing. With such talented people in blogland, you may even get a nice patchwork or crochet throw for your 'forever home'.

  22. I have just discovered your blog its amazing , we are simplfying our life too , in decorating our new home ( although not on the scale of yours) i am going to try not to use anything that is not decorative and useful and have enough for a few boot sales, the money will go towards the essentials for my new home.

  23. Love this post too! Reading Bill Bryson's Autobiography he says that in the 1950s the USA moved from working to improve peoples' quality of life, to just making money. This involved industries persuading people to buy more and more which necessitated working more and more to acquire more and more which took longer to look after, made lives more complicated, and people became less and less happy. Although the credit crunch is painful and unfair, perhaps a slight change of emphasis will be something good to come out of it?

  24. Hi sue..o those pics look so much like my granny's prefab..it was small but to me it was the best place in the world..we are still down shifting..got rid of lots of stuff...and more stuff...and yet more stuff..i feel much more relaxed now and if i had one wish i would love to have my house like my granny's prefab..the good days.


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