Thursday 24 November 2011

Walk to school

How ironic that we are able to walk to school, now that we have moved out of the woods for a spell. Bundling everyone in the car every morning, and lunch, and sometimes afternoon too, felt so wrong. Stuffing into car seats, sealed in our box, the rising sun and autumn berries flashed by at 50 mph and we observed it fleetingly through our windows..high speed cinema.
Now we are staying in a house only a mile from school and we walk at least one way, Freddie cycles both.

When people ask me what it's like living in a house, the first thing I always say is 'we can walk to school now' even though it doesn't answer the question. It feels like such a treat.

It takes about half an hour to wander through the fields and pause to talk to the robin on the gate post or admire the strings of blood red bryony draped in the hedgerows. Somehow I forget to rush so much in the fields wreathed in skeins of silver mist, as we squish our boots through the mud and pretend to be dragons and whoosh our fiery breath at each other.

I am so grateful for this brief time when we live close enough to the school for a beautiful walk in. It has certainly made me evaluate the amount of car use in our family.

When we move our wood there will be more questions to answer and challenges to overcome, about our reliance on fossil fuels in general. Is there any point in going off grid and using a washboard and mangle (which we will be doing) and planning bike powered blenders and laptops if we are still guzzling gallons of diesel every week?

Nope. Well a bit I suppose, but.....

We've just gone down to one car, yes we did, gulp, have runs, work needs, I know we all have our excuses, ours are as weedy as everyone else's. But the whole car thing, unless we live in a town, how can we not have one? Home educate? Bulk food delivery? No social visits or classes, or only those on a bus route?

The questions are evolving with the answers, but I know that we all feel so much better one car down. It's sociable, I've been hopping in more friendly cars of late; it stops me dashing around, because I simply can't, it reduces choice..sometimes I just can't go, and that's fine. We're getting more exercise as a family, we're saving money, not only on fuel, but on food because I'm not able to just pop out so much, and impulse buy. And we're using less diesel, yay!

But it is slow. I'm quite a quick person and naturally like everything to happen immediately, and its been a real lesson for me, that our crazy fast paced world is simply unsustainable, both in environmental and human terms. Really, our bodies and brains are not made to travel so fast are they?

 Meanwhile our walk to school is simply beautiful, we travel at human speed and can stop whenever we like to examine the first frost crystals of the year.

There were frost crystals on this post, really!

What does responsible car use mean to you? Would you like to slow down, tell me about it!


  1. Hello, we don't have a car, but we do live in the city (on the outskirts), so its a different scenario. Sometimes I desperately want one, but its for getting out of the city I want it the most, not to sit in lanes of traffic on my way to Tesco. We have our shopping delivered anyway, which is much more fuel effective to have a van delivering lots of shopping at once. My little boy Oscar is VERY travel sick so the chances are, if we had a car it wouldn't be used for recreation, if you know what I mean. We were living in the countryside over the summer and my poor little guy was so sick every time we took the 1 hour bus ride to the town, it was a nightmare. It took 20 minutes in the car (my sisters or mother-in-laws), and he was still sick a few times in the car. Mostly I can live without it, its what I am used to now.

  2. We would love to drop car use but multiple disabilities within the family mean we are very reliant on the dratted thing!

    We do however try to combine all our trips with various errands and since we home school we can go for several days without having to use the car.

    I've just discovered your blog via Border Stories and appreciate your thought provoking posts.


  3. Hi, Love your blog. I would love to walk to school, we have a free bus service, as we live in a remote area, but most of the time, the weather is just too bad to walk. We have 2 cars also, and I feel really bad about that, but if we had one, the children would have no social life at all. As it is, we use the car carefully, trying to fit everything in at the same time. Fuel here, is the most expensive in the UK!(outer hebrides)Love from, Julie

  4. Your walk to school looks fantastic. Something you can all look forward to every day and arrive at school feeling fresh, peaceful, and grateful. I consider walking one of the most important contributors to quality of life; it just can't be beat and I prefer to walk whenever and wherever possible.

    We have one vehicle and always have had, even when I worked full-time in town, which made sharing more complicated. We are down to one trip to town once a week most weeks. It certainly isn't convenient but you get used to it. You can't always do what you want when you want, sometimes one of us has to spend time waiting for the other as we combine our errands, shopping, and business trips. I've taken to using time spent in waiting for my husband while he quotes for jobs and picks up supplies to listen to audiobooks, write or, if the dog is with us, take him for a much appreciated walk. I find it forces us to be more flexible and creative with how we use our time. In the end though, saving everything for one weekly trip saves us a mountain of time and it is marvelous beyond belief to have days at a stretch when I know I won't even have to get into a car.

    And the time and money saved not maintaining, repairing, insuring and paying for another vehicle is vast; cars are such a drain. I once worked out how many more weeks a year I would have to work to have another (modest) vehicle and it was sobering indeed. I couldn't see anyway of justifying that kind of expense on my income.

    In a world where everyone is expected to have their own phone, their own computer, their own bathroom, and, of course, their own car, this car sharing (indeed, sharing of any kind) raises eyebrows and makes people uncomfortable and I think that's sad.

    By the way, your photography is superb!

  5. Thankyou all for sharing your car use stories, it's so interesting to hear how we all cope...from none to two, I guess every one just has to do what they can within the limitations of their individual circumstances. But what's interesting is that there are always silver linings to all our situations, whatever they are.
    And even with cars, we can certainly minimize their use and use them sensibly...until the day when the oil runs out and we all have to ride horses again!

  6. Hi Henrietta,
    I happen to think it will all balance.... the choices you are making are honouring of the slow, no matter how fast you want to travel. Your photos are so lovely and expressive of natural time.
    Even at only 18km per hour, it all seems to be going SO quickly! There are very few days when time stands still.... But I think it is me... My frame of mind is chosen, but out of force (and it's a huge force) I am a doer to the full, not a be-er doing less, so my moments of blessed peace are just that. Moments! But I think that having a belief in something joyous makes those moments freer and more likely and then the world can stand still while I share those blessings with others. The hairs went up on the arms of the apparently stern lady who was at the flight desk the other day. She doggedly persevered on my behalf and glowed with satisfaction when she finally got a result. We had a SHARED MOMENT... This is what you are doing by writing your blog. Sharing your wonderful thought provoking thoughts and hopes, fears and humanity. It is a gift.
    Lots of love, Jenny

  7. O bother! I meant "force of habit!" ha ha :) lots of love, anonymously Jenny Q xxxx

  8. Thankyou lovely anonymous Jenny! Yes I'm a doer too, but your words are so true, 'having a belief in something joyous makes...the world more likely to stand still. I'm going to try and remember that today...

  9. Looks like a beautiful commute!


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