Urban homesteaders

Every Morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day.~ E.B.White ~

A few weeks back we rented The Good Life fromNetflix and have been enjoying the seriesone &two of this outrageous British comedy. The characters take on a special attachment since their story justly impersonate scenarios that we (and I am sure many an urban homesteader) too have had to face. Watching the episodes has given us additional inspiration and influenced more lifestyle changes. It’s a classic for those in the self-sufficiency movement. Great humor and witty writing – gotta love those wellies.

The Plot

On his fortieth birthday, Tom Good gives up his well-paid job as a draughtsman in an engineering company. He is no longer able to take seriously his assignment to design plastic toys for insertion into breakfast cereal packets. With his wife Barbara they make a decision to live a sustainable and simple living lifestyle while staying in their beloved home in Surbiton. They dig up their front and back gardens, and converting it into a small holding growing soft fruit and vegetables. They introduce chickens, pigs (Pinky and Perky) a goat called Geraldine and a cockerel called Lenin. They generate their own electricity, using methane from animal waste. Later they even attempt to make their own clothes. They also work at selling or bartering surplus crops for essentials which they cannot make themselves. They try to cut their monetary requirements to the minimum with varying success.
Their actions horrify their kindly but conventional next-door neighbours, Margo and Jerry Leadbetter.  more 

The show had an irresistible premise: a middle-class suburban couple, Tom and Barbara Good, decide to go back to the land and turn their Surbiton home into a self-sufficient farm-cum-allotment, growing their own food, keeping animals and making their own tools and equipment. This creates friction with their neighbours, especially the Leadbetters, located next door, prime examples of the gin-and-tonic set. more

Beware of Distractions

Work continued on the solar shower on Sunday. The water heating element will still be simple – a coiled black garden hose supported on a salvaged bed frame.

I miss using the cob oven and, until it’s re plastered, I figure on not using it. I was planning on re plastering on Sunday, but feel that maybe the cracking has something to do with the extremely dry weather. I hope the weather cools down a bit, bringing some humidity. Perhaps the humidity will prevent the plaster from cracking.   I have to have some hope that the oven will look beautiful again.

Yesterday afternoon, we made a bunch of “smoky tasting” marmalade yesterday — my fault! The pot of marmalade was a tad bit burnt because I left the pot of oranges and peels boiling on the stove and got distracted.

First, I had to make a phone call to New Orleans to arrange some assistance for friend and victim of Hurricane Katrina that is feeling really down in the dumps lately. While I was on the phone to NOLA our next door neighbor’s kid knocked on the door, asking to use the computer and, if that weren’t enough, another neighbor dropped by and wanted me to chat for bit, telling me about her new job and such.  

After that commotion, I went into the kitchen just in the nick of time, saving the marmalade before it got badly burnt and would have had to been completely inedible.   Someone told me that to be a good cook , one needs to have no distractions – that is so true!   Lessoned learned, we have now have 6 jars of “smoky” (not burnt) tasting marmalade, but I am sure it won’t be bad with spreading it over some peanut butter or mixing it in oatmeal.

No Comments

  1. Wildside says:

    Thanks for the tip on that series! Sounds like fun. We have Netflix too, so we’ll make sure to request!

  2. gerry medland says:

    Hi Anais,
    ‘smoky marmalade’makes an interesting flavoured addition to chilli and curry,it also makes an interesting ice cream with added honey as ingredients.In any kitchen,nothing is ‘burned’ only ever’well done’

  3. Nancy Scott says:

    So, are we going to be “groupies of the Good Life”? I’m in! Maybe you guys should get a commission from Netflix. *:)

  4. b_heart11 says:

    Thanks so much for leading me to “The Good Life”. I managed to find and download them rather quickly yesterday, and my elder son and I watched the first three episodes last night. Its adorable! Why didn’t they ever put this on PBS??? And Margot reminds me of just too many people…

  5. Anais says:

    Hi B_heart

    Thanks for posting, glad you enjoyed the series. The characters are all so real – Margo especially (she plays her part perfectly)

    BTW: perhaps you can share with our readers where you were able to download TGL?


  6. Anais says:


    Good suggestions. I will definitely try adding it to some vegetarian chili.

  7. Lisa says:

    I love “The Good Life”. It was a sweet, funny show and I still catch the reruns now and again. I love your solar shower. Up here in Seattle, we wouldn’t be able to use it too much, but the way the weather’s changing–who knows?

  8. B_heart11 says:

    Ethically, its not something I normally encourage as Xiomburg and I believe in supporting artists we admire (they work their hineys off as much as we do). But ethics slip quite a bit when it comes to a 30-year-old tellie program. I found it through the P2P crowd at the Isohunt search engine. I don’t know if its still being traded by today, but it might be.

    I’m on Season 2, Episode 6 so far. The scene with them carrying home a load of wood on the trolly looked so familiar (looks up at ceiling and whistles, and reminds self to oil the little red wagon…)