Friday, 2 September 2005

Reflections and misadventures

The story so far, three months into a one year challenge to live in the woods for a year I have just spent a week in Scotland with work where I was put up in a hotel. This isn’t cheating, the aim is to live as normal a life as possible whilst living in the woods, the woods is my home and I treat it as such. If your work sent you to Scotland for a week and offered to put you up in a Hotel would you refuse and rent a house for the week? I’m off to Germany next month, again with work, and hope to sleep out then; I’m actually really beginning to enjoy this life out doors and have started to prefer it to a life indoors. Possibly by the end of the year I will have regressed completely and will be dressed in rabbit skins and communication using no more than grunts and gestures – little change there then.

I am currently using a small bag / day sack to carry just the bare essentials of what I need for the night, and it just holds them with little space to spare. I forgot this when I bought the hammock. The hammock takes up about half the space in the bag yet somehow I managed to get everything else in as well before checking out of the hotel with the bed and the TV and all the other trappings of modern life I, possibly rashly, shunned. Now I’m not big on cause and effect but I assume that cramming the hammock in had something to do with the fact that when I got to the pool later on I discovered that my bottle of Lynx shower gel was completely empty! Further investigation revealed a vast amount of the gel living a free range life in one of the pockets of the bag; mostly it was all over my board shorts. A quick spell in the Jacuzzi and a few bubbles later and the problem was solved. Sometimes life is simple.

It was a bit of a shock to come from the rarefied atmosphere of Gleneagles to the hustle of Heathrow but it was good to be back in London, a quick stop off in Whistle Stop and then back to the woods. Once again the hammock proved no trouble to put up and it being a clear night I looked forward to lying in it under the stars.

My stove, as I mentioned, is in the process of giving up the ghost and so it took about 20 minutes to boil water for tea which I used with one of the foil wrapped tea bags that I had pilfered from my room. What I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t foil wrapped but paper wrapped and so the shower gel had soaked through the paper into the tea bag. If it had not of been dark I would probably have noticed the bubbles. Lynx shower gel is neither delicious nor nutritious, but my mess tin is nice and clean now.

I believe that I thought the hammock to be the most comfortable thing in the world last week when I tried it for the first time after three months of sleeping on the ground. Having just spent a week in a hotel sleeping in bed wider that I am tall I think that I might have been a little hasty with my previous beliefs. However, it was certainly nice to sleep out in the fresh air again and to hear the owls, deer and badgers. I wasn’t so sure about the Owl that woke me at about 3 am by screeching from just above my head, or the deer that woke me up by barking or even the badger that woke me up by scratching about under the hammock but other than that it was fine.

It is definitely getting colder and there was a bit of a nip in the air when I woke, bit of a taste to come. The walk to the bus was really refreshing and I got into work feeling better than I had all week.


Off-Grid Editor said...

Dear Hugh Sawyer,

What you are doing is great. It is not downsizing, as the Observer puts it. Nor is it just simply downshifting.
What you are doing with your noble anti-materialist experiment is living Off-Grid - without power, water, and any other connection to the mainstream world, other than your cellphone, presumably.

Living Off-Grid is the wave of the future, catalogued at, and we would like to invite you to become Editor of the City Scavenger section of our web site. Thereby earning money for the Woodland Trust.

In any case we will make a link to your fundraiser web site.

Best Wishes
Nick Rosen

07971 543703

swisslet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
--- said...

But how sustainable would it be for everyone to do this? Sad though it is for this effort to seem like a novelty, one wonders what percentage of the British population the fragile countryside could accommodate.

ed said...

Wow, I am very amazed at what you are doing! Keep it up.

As someone who has camped in the winter, let me just tell you this: sleep with a couple blankets, and you should be fine. Don't sleep naked, always have atleast one layer on.

You rock!


swisslet said...

Sorry about the deletion.

Anyway, as I was saying:

Just wanted to say hello. was interested to read about you in The Observer today, and as a fellow blogger, thought I'd swing by to offer my support via comment.

I take my virtual hat off to you, and I look forward to being an avid reader here, especially during the delights of an English winter.

When you were at school, did you ever read the book 'Rogue male' by Geoffrey Household? That was essentially about a man on the run who lives in a hedge. I haven't read that since I was 12 years old, but reading about you has brought it to mind.


Hugh Sawyer said...


I hope I respond to your points in the Filosfy posting