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.