Flicking through my emails this morning, I came across one alerting me to a comment on my last post from my fellow blogger Ian McKenzie saying:
‘You have definitely come a long way from that flat, “a mere drunken banker’s stagger from Canary Wharf.” It looks great.’
The words struck a chord and, searching back, I was stunned to learn that Ian was quoting from a post I wrote back in 2004 entitled ‘A step towards another life’. I wrote back to Ian to say how touched I am that he continues to read and staggered he could recall a post that I wrote eight years ago. Rereading that post brought me up short, for I had forgotten how deeply embedded the wish for what we know have was within me back then.
Canary Wharf from Mudchute Farm
We live in London, a mere drunken banker’s stagger from Canary Wharf and the new financial heart of London. We are lucky enough to have a ground floor flat with a small south-facing garden… As a child, I grew up in a home where in the back garden, my Dad grew a fair proportion of the vegetables we ate. Although this was done partly by choice, it also helped to supplement the far from stellar incomes of a self-employed engineer and nurse… Although I don’t remember playing a very active part in the actual market gardening, I do remember being captivated by John Seymour’s seminal book, The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency. Seymour’s plain economic yet evocative prose made the backbreaking and often thankless life of a smallholder seem simple, achievable but most of all, enviable.
Limehouse Link tunnel – part of my 50 mile daily commute in London
I have long held the desire to have a less frenetic and immediate life, hoping instead to ‘downshift’, as it is now called. Recently, SWMBO and I have discussed a variety of ways in which we can bring this about – ultimately, to find a way in which can spend far less time in traditional work environment – nine to five, stressful work, long commute, little family time – enabling us to spend more time together working in, around and maybe from the home. Over the years and months, various bouts of online research and reading have brought us to the point where we are now seriously looking at a number of ways in which we can make this idea a reality, whether at home or abroad.
Leaving London for New Zealand
Although I am by nature a serendipitous optimist, I am no wearer of rose tinted specs and I am realistic enough to know that a corporate salary will be a necessary evil for a while yet if we are to affect such a change.
Eight years later, we have moved 18,000 kms to the other side of the world, I have traded a corporate salary for a public servant’s payslip and the family have swapped a small inner city flat in London for a house on four acres of land in rural New Zealand.
Our lives have changed in extraordinary ways: we have challenged our own notions of who we are, slowly and steadily reversed circumstances we once thought would crush us, visited places of stunning beauty and met wonderful people some of whom have become our closest friends.
In doing so, we have confounded those who confidently predicted failure, shed a good deal of the baggage of our past, trusted the leading we felt and committed to an unknown future with a determination we never knew we had. Though there was I time when I would have scoffed at the thought, we are certain we were called to live here and that we are meant to be where we are for however long He will have us here. God has truly blessed and humbled us – we strive to hold it all with open hands so we may share that blessing with others.
The full post from 2004 – thank you Ian for reminding me I wrote it!