Started 960913

My house below a hill

Update: what I wrote on this page was speculative. I have since moved to a rural house, not quite as described, and it's great! Even when the leaves are off the trees, I can see only two streetlights, and they're a couple of miles away! It's lovely and peaceful here, quite different from being in a village. It's quite a modern house -- central heating etc, so that's not much of a change.

My house on top of a hill

Further update: I've now moved again, to a more remote rural house, at the end of a series of farm tracks on the top of a hill in County Limerick, Ireland. It's even more peaceful here (although unfortunately the lights of the city are visible from the yard). It's an old-fashioned farmhouse, lightly modernized, but still heated by a proper range, for example.

Thinking about moving to a remote place

I prefer living outside town to living in town, and currently live in a village. But really, I'd prefer to live somewhere more remote than that.

[Gamekeepers Cottage]

I'm considering the practicalities of moving to an old keeper's cottage I know of... not as complete self-sufficiency but as a considerable rationalization from where I am now.. being selective about what technology I bring with me, so that it serves me, and not I it.

I'd expect to carry on working with computers to earn a living for the things that I wouldn't produce locally, but would live a fairly quiet, meditative life with time for manual work and for computing work and for contemplation. I'd welcome friends to visit for a quiet break from all the things that I'd have moved away from, but wouldn't want a continuous stream of visitors... and at times it would probably seem somewhat bleak and cold to most people.

To start with, I might use some tools in getting things going that I wouldn't use later -- a rotovator, and power digger and cement mixer for renovation of house, digging of septic tank, pipe trenches etc... perhaps even a pond and a pool to dig out along the stream.

Location and access

The place I'm thinking of is reached by long woodland tracks that start from tiny deep-hedged country lanes; it is over a mile from the nearest village, and about a mile from the nearest hamlet (which has a pub).

The house and its environs

The house I'm thinking of is a largish conventional cottage. I'd think of arranging it as rooms like this:

Most of the rooms would have a great extent of generous-sized shelves, but few enclosed cupboards.

Outside the house would be


I'd aim to be largely self-sufficient, so not much would be brought in; and so not much would be thrown out in the way of non-decomposable rubbish.

A largish vegetable garden would provide enough food (possibly started with imported rich earth? although the area I'm thinking of seems fairly fertile anyway) and it might be worth having a goat for milk, cheese and butter. The main things I / we'd have to buy regularly would be grain (perhaps bread in the summer when the Aga's off) and toilet paper; and soap? perhaps sugar for jam, too. There'd be bees for honey and comb. Chickens are, I suspect, not worth the effort, as well as being noisy and smelly, and giving away the presence of the house to those who might otherwise not have noticed it for the trees (a bit more tall hedge would be needed). Cider, mead, and perhaps beer, could be made; there'd be an orchard, but probably no fields. A car (probably a Land-Rover) for occasional use would be handy, as well as for emergencies. The curve of the drive through the hedges would make it much less conspicuous.


I'm assuming I'll want to keep on working with computers, so that would be a laptop, run from batteries -- in which case there'll be an electrical system, probably 12 volt directly from lead-acid batteries charged by solar panels (probably on the roof), possibly with a wind turbine for the winter although that is more obtrusive, noisy and requiring maintainance (probably not worth it -- solar panels should be enough). (Note that generators are not particularly high-technology!) Candles or oil light would be pleasant, but would use non-renewable fuels (on a pretty small scale, though!); water would come from the stream (or, better, from the spring that feeds it, if it is spring-fed), and the drains would go to a septic tank, fairly well downhill. Heating and cooking will be the tricky bit: propane for summer cooking, and a wood-fired Aga for the winter, perhaps? A small fridge could run from the battery/solar electrical system.

I wrote the following before wireless broadband became available: A mobile phone with modem would provide any necessary communications (but would it be in reach of cellular?) (shouldn't be much!) unless I were doing heavy network-based work (quite likely); in that case, rent space at a nearby farm for an ISDN head, and run buried optical fibre from there up; and cycles for collecting the post from the bottom of the track (or perhaps straight from the post office!)

Some links

John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Sun Jun 10 22:12:57 GMT Daylight Time 2007