What it’s really like living in the woods
We have happily enjoyed our woodland together for nearly 10 years now; it is where Paul’s oak framing business has always been, where we spent most weekends when renting various properties throughout our relationship.
It was in this magical place that he proposed to me, the place we celebrated our wedding with all our friends and family and nursed our hangovers the next day. It was also the place I had my office when I decided to become a self employed graphic designer. It was where I nervously took a pregnancy test and we discussed how our lives were about to change forever.
It was here Paul drove me to when I was in early labour, as I wanted to be here rather than where we were living at the time, and it was here we introduced our ‘fur baby’ to the newest addition of our family, before heading home to our rented property.
When our daughter arrived and we wanted to put down our roots, there was nowhere that felt more like home, than this place. Our decision made, we set about converting the tatty woodland offices into our home once we had our application approved.
I am pretty sure that our love for this place shines through, it is, after all what my blog and social media platforms revolve around and the ‘back drop’ of many, many photos. This place inspires us daily as a family and is the driving forced behind our work.
Living in the woods is far from frightening
One of the most frequent questions I am asked when people find out where we live, is if we are ever frightened living in the woods, “so far away from life”. The answer is absolutely not!
Perhaps when I was watching the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’ I picked up the pace on my walks, and there are the occasional evenings when I the dogs go out last thing at night, I hear a rustle in the dark woodland and dash inside!
Community is everything
Yes, we live in the middle of the woods, but there are 5 other properties down our private lane, one being just a short stroll from our gate
We have wonderful relationship with our neighbours, I do think it is quite rare in this day and age to have the community spirit that we have down here. We get together throughout the seasons to fix things up, whether it’s patching up the lane or removing fallen trees, it is always a lovely occasion.
We never get lonely
As mentioned above, there is always someone about, a neighbour or one of the lovely people who walk their dogs on the footpaths that weave their way through the woodland.
It might seem like we are in the ‘middle of nowhere’ but once at the top of our long, dirt track, we are about 10 minutes from our village, 20 from our nearest town where lots of my wonderful local friends live, and only 45 minutes to an hour from London, so if there is ever the risk of getting lonely, there is ‘life’ within reaching distance!
You never get bored
As I mentioned in a post ‘Dreams and hard work‘ some time ago:
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
There is always something to do here, whether for pleasure or necessity; taking on woodland is a huge responsibility with work to be done all the time.
Woodland must be worked in order for it to remain healthy and well managed, there are parcels of woodland near us that are in a shocking state due to people thinking it should be used simply as a place to walk their dogs at weekends. The wildlife, trees and flora thrives after a good coppice; often people see an area that has been flat-felled and accuse us of ‘deforestation’ however, within a matter of months the same site is thriving with new growth an full of wildlife, while the sites left unmanaged are slowly dying off.
Of course, it isn’t just the coppicing that needs to be done, it’s the occasional injured bird, dredging of streams, the processing timber from coppicing into fencing or loading up the pick-up to deliver firewood locally. All of these things are jobs we willingly partake in, however there is never ‘nothing to do’ here.
A source of daily inspiration
This morning I woke with my husband and the dogs already out of the house, our daughter was busily tending to her ‘baby’, so before I got breakfast underway, I stood out on our deck in my pyjamas and just observed everything around me, it was the very reason I decided to write this post.
The morning birdsong, the rustle of bare trees with tiny leaf buds, and the soft, cold breeze against my face and body; it was all I needed to get going and it was also genuinely the reason I wrote this post after weeks of ‘bloggers block’!
Our daily routines have built-in health benefits
From standing on my deck first thing and taking in the new day to standing out there last thing at night looking up at the stars… these two things soothe me more than anything. I am someone who, in the past suffered badly from depression, someone who still suffers from anxiety and there is also my medical condition that more often than not, leaves me chronically fatigued and painfully sore physically.
I believe, however it was in meeting my husband, coming to this place and eventually living here, along with the mindfulness I practice that really gives me the tools I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally.
Pushing wheelbarrows, lifting and shifting timber, clearing brush, running chainsaws and swinging the odd axe involves a lot of physical labor; while the monotony of the work can often get a bit testing, it has a great pace to it which does it’s part in keeping us all fit.
It is my daily walks, two of which MUST be done in order to give our dogs the life and exercise they deserve, the rest are for the pure joy of it. Some reading this, might suggest that I am ‘lucky’ to have the time and space to do just that, and to a degree they would be right, but all of this this is the lifestyle choice I made to remain as healthy as possible for myself and my family and it comes at quite a cost when people realise what it is we live without for the ‘luxury’ of time and space.
It isn’t entirely “stress free”
To most, living ‘away from it all’, away from from the hustle and bustle of city life or commercial society has a HUGE appeal, and it does, however, one does trade one kind of stress for another… It might not seem like a ‘biggie’ but in limiting the daily interactions with strangers, we now have the repeated interactions with the same people, often just myself and my husband, time and time again!!
This isn’t something I write easily, and I realise that it seems incredibly cruel, however, I know my husband would say the same! We absolutely adore each other, but often living in each others pockets as we do, with him working where we live and coming into our house for his lunch break in the middle of a ‘threenager’ meltdown or the house in a state of chaos can create a lot of stress on all our parts.
Still, we haven’t killed each other yet, nor will we, as we know the positives of him working on site outweigh the negatives, but it isn’t all ‘easy living’ in the middle of the woods!
Some people loathe the idea of routine, I for one enjoy the weekly routine we have here. Having a routine absolutely doesn’t mean being completely rigid, we like to have some fluidity to the routine, but having an idea and expectations of what each family member is up to gives us all a bit of piece of mind. It allows each of us to get what we want and need from a week, whether it’s getting jobs around the house and/or woodland done or having some time off to unwind a bit as a family or individually. This routine creates a comfortable life for us and is just one of the ways, we like to simplify our life here.
We also live with a lot less than others, as owning somewhere like this in the South East of England does come at a price, however, living with less is something we are more than happy with, as we believe that living with less comes with more freedom.
The main benefit for us living here, is that the luxuries that some have, a shiny new car, holidays and/or lots of material ‘stuff’, we simply don’t have time or money for… does that sound really dull, boring and unambitious…?
Maybe, but because we don’t have all those things, it has freed up our emotional and financial resources to come to a point in our life here where we genuinely need less to be happy. We have all the time we need, a beautiful place to consider what matters most to us and as a result I believe we have become more caring and giving as a unit.
Part of the seasons
One of my most favourite things about living here, is feeling a part of the seasons.
The landscape changes before our eyes; every single day there is something new or different. Often after a few days away, I will come home and the change is monumental; in the Spring it is the moment the first bluebell appears, the next day there is a blue carpet laid out throughout the woods, the season shifts into Summer and everything is bright, colourful and buzzing, in Autumn the trees turn from vibrant green, to glorious gold and rusty tones, then seemingly overnight the trees shed their leaves as Winter approaches, the trees are bare and the bracken as all died back.
Our friends and family will often visit in the Winter and ask what we have ‘cut back’ as what used to be dense, leafy woodland is now, stark and bare!
Our woodland, really is a magical place to call home, there is nowhere else we would rather be… to some that might seem boring and uninspired, but we are happy and the woods are a place of peace and pure happiness for us.
If you have any questions about our woodland life, woodland management or anything related, please feel free to leave me a comment below, contact me or visit my Instagram and leave a comment. I love hearing from people who also live in the woods, or those who plan to find some to live and manage someday.
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