Normally a family with young children is restricted to car camping. And Noela and I accepted this restriction even though I was a keen climber and Noela was a keen bushwalker. But finally when we were camping in Tasmania near Cradle Mountain, we decided our family would venture out walking by our selves for four days. Tim, our oldest, was 6 and Naomi was only 4. So it wasn’t going too to be easy. There were a couple of huts on our route so that would make things easier. But we still needed to take a tent with us because the huts might be full and we would have to walk very slowly. I was expecting to carry Naomi for a significant amount of time.
So we cut our packs down to the bare minimum. Each of the four of us would have just a bowl and spoon as utensils. The bowl would be used for both drinking and eating. For the 4 of us we would just carry a small stove, a large cooking aluminium bowl, and a small and large knife. Our clothing, food, water containers etc had to be cut down to an absolute minimum (no washing gear at all). So we set off saying goodbye to all our normal car-camping gear.
We had a wonderful four days. Our lack of gear made life much easier. No more tedious washing up because each person had to scrape out their bowl before we drank our Milo (our standard beverage in those days). And the fact that we had a clear distance, which we needed to cover, meant that the children had to partake in the whole operation. So we all could join in the full experience. It was good for all of us.
We all learnt that much of the junk we think is so essential often just makes life harder for us.
When I broke my back and had to live alone with my very severe disability, I bore this experience carefully in mind. So I chose to design a simpler lifestyle for myself.
The accompanying photos show the basics of my new system.
So I had a bench put in next to my bed where I could do all my cooking and eating. All my cooking is now done in a small microwave. When you get used to it, this is a very easy and efficient way of cooking. I do all my cooking and eating using just one plastic bowl. To clean the bowl after a meal, I first put a little water in the bowl, I then run around the bowl with my index finger, suck my finger clean, and finally I drink the water. I finish the operation by drying the bowl with a paper towel (which usually lasts a week). I do use a separate mug for my coffee, which is cleaned in a similar manner. The only utensils I use are a spoon and one small vegetable knife. Once a fortnight I do wash these objects properly.
Usually I need just five 600cc bottles of water per day, and I refill the necessary bottles after each meal.
And I do almost all my cooking and eating by myself. I do eat out twice a week to be more social. But 19, of my usual 21 meals per week, I prepare myself.
I even manage to do a large amount of my daily exercise on my bed. I do push-ups on the bed and I use the tapes above my bed for chin-ups.
But the benefits of this system are much more than I just have less work to do. I can fill the rest of my largish flat with tenants who give me rent and provide me with amusement and the knowledge of current home life.
At present I have a Bangladeshi couple and their 10-month year old child with me. They have been with me for 6-years and they are terrific. In previous times I have even had 4 or 5 people staying with me. It is all good.
In legal terms I lease 2/3’s of my flat to my tenants and use 1/3rd of the flat myself. But in practise my tenants use more than this and I am very happy with this situation. So I have a small curtained room with a bed, which I use for my books and any visitors I have. But in practise my tenants use this room for their visitors. My tenants have lots of parties and love to hear these people enjoying themselves.
This is the other half of my room where my own books and files reside.
So there are huge benefits in living in a simple compact form. It gives an older person a much fuller form of life. I recommend this lifestyle to all people.