3 out of 5 stars
It was late one evening when Mark Boyle checked his email one last time and turned off his phone. He fully intended to never switch it back on again. In his new home, a cabin alongside a wood there was no electricity or running water, no internet or sewage connections nor was he even going to have solar power! He was going fully off-grid.
Boyle was going to have to grow and catch his own food, collect his own firewood, build and repair anything that he needed around the home and collecting water from the stream. Washing is done by hand, he catches his own food and lives frugally off the land. It was a simple life, but tough as everything that you do means that you get to live another day. He had almost no money or and his only income was from his writing. Even that was problematic as all correspondence was going to be by letter so arranging anything could take several days and more often weeks. He had consciously made the decision to completely avoid all forms of technology and was a totally committed eco-warrior.
As tough as his new life was, it was good for his mental health as he had none of the stresses of modern day life. He rose with the sun, and life around the small holding was dictated by the weather and the seasons. Some days there were never enough hours in the day to do all the things that he needed to do. On other days he had the luxury of time to pursue projects like a homemade hot tub. His partner, Kirsty is there as almost an afterthought in the text.
Boyle gives an insight into what it is like to step off-grid and make your own way in the world. It does make you think about our dependence on many things that we now take for granted, for example, electricity, internet, refrigeration and light. It also goes to show that we still need human interaction even though we may not need technology all of the time and that gaining skills in other areas may be beneficial. When writing this book he did have to hand write the manuscript which as he only had the single copy meant that he either had to copy it out again of hope that it wasn’t lost or damaged. However, he did have to type it up for submission and it reminded him why he hated computers. I didn’t think that this was a good as Deep Country. In this eloquent book, Neil Ansell undertakes a similar exercise for five years in Wales. It is still worth a read if you have ever considered walking away from the modern world. Another in the same vein is How To Live Off-Grid – Journeys Outside The System by Nick Rosen.