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A new beginning.

Or - The short version of why we made the decision to live life a little differently in Devon. Re-writing the rules about what we're supposed to do and thinking more about what we could do. Spending as much time with our children as we can and designing a life that we’re all excited by.

Today I’m sat in the kitchen of our tiny cottage which we’ve been living in for the last five months deep down in South Devon. We’re four hours away from the family and friends we lived close to for over a decade and the only home our eight year old twin boys have ever known.

Last year we sold or donated most of our belongings to move here. We’ve downsized considerably. We lived with my parents for a few months while we were between houses and homeschooled our boys while they were between schools. But thinking about it, this big change in our life all started, as most big life changes do, long before then…

While my husband Alex, an Australian, and I have always loved to travel and both have a creative outlook on life, during the pandemic we were forced (as we all were) to stop and reassess. In amongst the tragedy of Covid, the long commutes to work ended, the rushing from here and there, the clubs, the social engagements and all the other things which occupied our time no longer existed. And after our eyes were opened to this simple way of living, this slower pace of life - we couldn’t un-see it.

We dreamed of a world for the four of us that would see us spending much more time together, living a life that aligned with our family values and importantly, to make time slow down because as you will know, nothing makes time speed up like having kids.

During that time I devoured the words of simple living books like Slow and The Art of Frugal Hedonism. I read up on alternative schooling with books like The Call of The Wild And Free and Balanced and Barefoot. Any writer I could find who could open my eyes a little wider, who could inspire me to ‘another way’; I couldn’t get enough of it. My Instagram feed became full of families travelling full time, minimalism experts, tiny home dwellers and unschooling parents. I was constantly looking for the parts of their story that spoke to me and would give me inspiration. So when I finally opened Glennon Doyle’s book ‘Untamed’ for the first time, I was primed and ready to pull the pin on our life. When I got half way through the book, I walked upstairs to my husband’s make shift home office, opened the door and said ‘let’s sell all of this and travel with the boys’. And he simply replied, ‘I’m in’.

Now I’d love to say that was it and everything just fell into place after that, but of course it wasn’t. We pivoted a lot, we worked our butts off to get rid of debt, we got jobs and lost jobs, we spent our weekends doing up our house ourselves so we could sell it. We bought a campervan, found it too small, bought a motorhome, found it too big. We took six months to sell our house and worried that we wouldn’t find another one in a time of huge national economic uncertainty. We struggled with homeschooling and our boys are now in their third primary school.

We spent many (many) sleepless nights wondering if we were on the right path. We’ve worried about money and had a lot of conversations about diluting our plans, doing something a bit more middle of the road. In essence, from the outside it could seem like we have no clue what we’re doing at all. There’s been no big ‘five year plan’ mapped out, it’s ever evolving and changing – friends joke that they never know what we’re going to come up with next.

But, while some of our ideas might be crazy, our central thinking remains a constant:

We want to live simply and creatively. We don’t want to be tied down, especially by debt, and we want to show our boys as much as we can, while we can.

So that leads me back here. Back to the tiny cottage kitchen I’m writing this in. It's July and the sun is shining through the window and I can hear the birds. It's absolutely idyllic and I’m well aware of how unbelievably fortunate I am to call this our home - yet I am, as ever, hungry for more.

I’m beginning again with this blog as a way to share these adventures, both our family ones, and my work ones. I’m on the cusp of an evolution in my business and it feels like a really exciting time.

In a couple of weeks we’re heading off to Europe in our campervan once again – fingers crossed this van is just the right size and no breakdowns – and planning yet more long term and short term adventures over the next twelve months.

The way I described this life to my music loving husband is that we’re writing an album, not just releasing a single. We don’t want a one hit wonder – one trip that sends us broke, one year out from normal life. We want this to be our whole life. A life of wonder and adventure. Chasing our dreams and living in the most incredible creative way we possibly can. Showing our boys that we actively chose this life for them and with them at the centre of all of it.

And when they’re adults and they moan to us about some of the choices we made on their behalf, as we know all children tend to do to their parents, at least we can say we taught them that they too can write their own story all by themselves. That there are no rules and no expectations from us on them. Our only wish is that they follow their own hearts to create a life they can be excited about.

“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
― Glennon Doyle, Untamed
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