This week was a big step forward in grasping the basics of both electronics and off-grid living.
I took ownership of the first in a series of devices that will accompany my journey into the technical world of electronic experimentation, with a view to understand what (or should I say watt?) works, what doesn’t, what our basic needs are and what luxury items one can still use whilst being isolated from the grid.
So the sustainable energy basics are already acquired, this week saw two exciting deliveries; the first a 100w portable solar panel, the second an entry-level 240wh power station.
I intend to review both items in time, but what it has already allowed me to do is to think in a different way. Us on-gridders invariably don’t think about how devices work, how much electricity they consume and how much it costs to run them, one typically plugs, plays, enjoys and pays the hefty energy bills at the end of the month.
With the start of the build of my “Cabin In The Yard” (the prototype for the build of over a dozen ecolodges at our retreat in Wales), only weeks away, I wanted to fully explore and understand the art of what’s possible without drawing any resources from the house.
Thankfully, my son is an electrical engineer and he gave me an electricity 101 to explain what watts, amps and volts are, how to find out the inputs and outputs of devices, and by doing the maths, I could work out the drain from each appliance on the limited power reserves I have.
I’ll admit the 101 didn’t make much sense until I started to do some research on which devices and appliances are powered by 12v batteries, USB or AA / AAA rechargeable batteries.
Once I found out the watts for each device, the penny dropped. By documenting the watts of each device, I knew exactly how much each one would drain from the 240 watt hours I had to play with on my power station.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer volume of devices out there that could continue (somewhat) a life of luxury, totally cost free (besides the initial investment of course), as long as the sun was shining (the fundamental flaw in my plan of living in the monochromatic grey realm of North West England).
Here is the list of devices I found, not exhaustive by any means and somewhat primordial when compared to those in the house for the likes of heating, cooking and lighting, but still an impressive list nonetheless (those marked green I already possess):
🟢 Portable Showers (15w)
🟢 Cooler Boxes/Fridges (58w)
🔴 Heating Stoves (40w)
🔴 Travel Kettles (120w)
🔴 Hair Straighteners (20w)
🔴 Hair Dryers (150w)
🔴 Toastie Makers (120w)
🔴 Heater Fans (120w)
🔴 Travel Hoovers (12.5w)
🔴 Electric Blankets (55w)
🔴 TVs (40w)
🔴 Air Pumps (120w)
🔴 Water Pumps (60w)
🟢 Desk Fans (1w)
🟢 Desk Lamps (5w)
🟢 Bluetooth Speakers (5w)
🟢 iPhones (5w)
🟢 iPads (10w)
🟢 Surface Pro (60w)
🟢 Nintendo Switch (25w)
🟢 Logitech Web Cams (5w)
🟢 USB C Computer Monitors (25w)
🟢 Mavic Mini Drones (15w)
🟢 Sony XM3 Headphones (15w)
🟢 Apple Watches (2w)
🟢 Portable Power Banks (15w)
🟢 Recyclable Battery Chargers (15w)
🟢 Oculus Quest VR Headsets (15w)
🟢 Portable Shower (15w)
🔴 Portable Projectors (15w)
🔴 Mini Blenders (65w)
🔴 LED Lights (45w)
Rechargeable Battery Appliances
🟢 Portable Speakers
🟢 Nose Trimmers
🔴 LED Lights
Yes, I’m at the stage of my life now where nose trimmers have become an essential item!
The beauty of buying the items above is that they are all 100% portable, so not only can I use them in the soon-to-be-erected cabin, but I can take them camping with me later in the year, and if the zombie apocalypse does turn up some point soon, I’m sorted.
Clearly to stay connected, I’ll need to tether my phone to the internet-based devices I have, so not everything is free, but it’s a good start, and does go to show that the art of what is possible is both sustainable and achievable if you want it…
Communing with nature. Living off the land. Mind, body and soul cleansing. Community spirit and oneness. Consciousness expansion. Peace and love.
Deep down many of us want the ideals above but are either unable, unwilling or lack the courage to do those things that we know will be better for us and better for the planet.
This week saw my eagerly awaited trip to Lammas Eco-Village in South Wales, an expedition into the uncharted territory of off-grid living., a fact finding mission for our band of neophyte hippies to sequester information from the founders, Mr and Mrs Wimbush, in order for us to gain insights into their ten year journey from a barren greenfield plot of land, to a fully functional and self-sufficient settlement.
As a guy who has worked in and around IT projects for most of his life, I bring to the table my decades of structure, organisation and planning, so I took the responsibility to plan out our trip in advance, including timelines, itineraries and a large set of questions, the output of which would give us enough answers and direction to kick-start the build of our eco-retreat project in North Wales.
This is a work project not one of pleasure (although no doubt the journey and end result will no doubt be a joyous thing), and as such the trip was “allowed” under the strict “essential travel only” guidelines. Even still, I had a bad feeling before setting off that at some point over the four hour journey south, our collars would be felt at least once by the boys in blue, and in preparation for that eventuality I printed off all materials (Covid travel guidelines, agenda, emails etc) as a form of proof to plod that our trip was legitimate. As it turned out, the trip was “copper-free” and we arrived safely at Lammas, collars unfelt.
As we drove into the village, the first thing that struck us was the size. Each of the plots sized between six and seven acres and there were plenty of them (totalling seventy seven acres in all).
Our destination for the day however was Maes Melangell, the home of both the Wimbush family (pioneers of Lammas) and a newly-constructed and yet-to-be completed Lammas Earth Centre.
I had done some research on Lammas over the previous nights (reading the One Planet Life book as well as watching several YouTube videos) to provide at least some background knowledge on what the set up was like and what their journey had been like thus far.
But like a great many things in life, reading about something is one thing, experiencing it is markedly different, the whole day was testament to that.
We were greeted (after a few wrong turns) on the tracks by Hoppi (aka Mrs Wimbush), who welcomed the group warmly and invited us in to the main house for a socially distanced and hand-sanitised chat, so that we could get to know each other a little and our posse could set out its expectations for the day.
One thing that did strike me on the way in was how impressive their homestead looked, it was clear that the well-built dwelling house, the super-impressive Lammas Earth Centre, the animal barn and all of the cultivation areas had taken years to achieve and a ridiculous amount of dedication and hard graft (both physically and meta-physically).
With a hot cup of Bengal Spice Tea in hand, Hoppi walked us through their ambitious journey so far, all of us playing silent witness and in awe in what they had achieved to date and how they had done it. Their home was warm not only in temperature (from the amazing wood-burner and impressively insulated walls), but in feeling too, clearly the house was also wrapped in the warmth of love, of oneness with each other, with nature and the universe at large.
It became apparent early on that what we saw before us had taken an Herculean effort, not only in planning, designing, developing and constructing, but in terms of pressure and stress too. Here we had a small family (children were six and nine at the time) living in a small touring caravan on an empty landscape, with huge plans for off-grid living in their heads and one hell of a journey in front of them.
We shared our own plans for the eco-treat which were met warmly too, but it was becoming apparent (to me at least) that our embryonic project was very different than what was in front of us in terms of components, requirements and end-state.
The five of us involved thus far all have day commitments that we don’t foresee giving up any time soon, and at this point we don’t envision any of us living at the eco-retreat permanently. So it dawned on us that going down the One Planet Development route for our project was likely to be a dead end and overcomplicated from a planning and local authority permission perspective. Ours would be a different path than the one Lammas has taken, but it would have the same ethos are drive for sustainability.
After a warm exchange, Hoppi then took us on a tour of the site, explaining the exact functions of each building and zone, safe to say that we were all in total awe of what we were viewing.
Their plans were not only realised by their own hands, but by those of volunteers too. Through the use of an entire tribe of volunteers (over seventy in total) they were able to morph their barren landscape into something truly remarkable.
And it’s is the essence of that very approach which has left a spiritual and collective resonance around the place, almost like a mycelium layer of positivity and love, woven into the very fabric of every component on site, borne from the many hands of like-minded individuals.
After the staggeringly impressive show and tell, we had the opportunity to wander the site on our own, I took the time to fly my drone over the site to get a birds eye view whilst my comrades meandered through various muddy pathways on foot, the site as impressive from the air as on the ground.
We finished our trek as the door to the main house opened and for the first time we met Tao (Mr Wimbush) for the first time. Set and setting are always important and the lunch of Pumpkin and Parsnip Soup with home made bread and goats butter transformed a basic meal to the best lunch of all time, ever.
It came across well on the videos I had seen, but in person, Tao’s calming nature juxtaposed against Hoppi’s effervescence made it a perfect partnership, and I saw the deep, loving and spiritual connection they both had for each other on a couple of occasions. Beautiful.
We shared our vision and hope for the eco-retreat with Tao and based on the components we wanted to develop (very different to Lammas), Tao advised that the One Planet Development wasn’t the best way to go for our venture and he suggested an alternative approach to achieve the desired outcome, to which we all agreed.
I was truly blown away by Tao, to be surrounded by such an amazing feat of construction and sustainable cleverness was one thing, but his calming, warming, nurturing, inspiring and guiding words (and well as long hair and beard), felt to me like I was in the presence of a modern day Jesus (affirmed by “L” on the way back home who thought the same).
As the darkness drew in and thoughts turned to the arduous long journey home in poor driving conditions, with a genuine sadness and gratitude, we bade farewell to our hosts for the day and headed back north to on-grid living, resigned and melancholic in the knowledge that workers boots and corporate laptops would called upon within just a few hours of returning.
We had so many take-aways from our trip to Lammas, hints, tips and nudges in the right direction we simply would not have hot had we not visited. We agreed that when we returned home we would double-down on our efforts to get things moving, albeit in a slightly different direction to our initial plans.
After visiting Lammas, Hoppi and Tao, it’s now very clear to me that one can live in the fruitfully in the future like we lived in the past, it just takes courage to detach oneself from what is, quite frankly, a broken and totally meaningless capitalist society.
That courage is within us all, we just need to do, there is no try…
As with most other Earthly inhabitants, and as with most years, January is always a month of reflection, reflecting on the events of last year and the plans and anticipation for the year to come, along with the perennial screaming pleas from the weighing machine to “get the f*ck off me!”
I spent sixteen days off over the Yuletide period with the family, with good quality time alongside everyone that was allowed to be around the table, around the table. As is customary, we ate too much, drank in moderation but often and put on the inevitable hip inches. It’s allowed.
Now that the festivities are well and truly behind me, I instantly turned to my rack of well-being books, naturally gravitating to the paleo and meat-free tomes as a way to start shredding the excess pounds. As I did that though, my higher-self seemed to stop me dead in my tracks, as my lower-self was sending a very loud and clear message that other things needed to be considered this time.
My material body is in pain, as penned my times before over the years and in my last post, my tinnitus is absolutely raging at the moment and my recent venture into “mushroom stacking” wasn’t the only thing required to abate my invisible and subjective malady.
As the first few days in January are quiet, I took to the internet and discussions with my hippy friends to see whether other things may be needed. Commence Operation Detox!
Research and chatter has revealed that tinnitus is thought to be an inflammation of the inner ear (among other things) so a diet avoiding items that inflame to body (wheat being a classic example, our ancestral DNA was never meant to take it from the beginning, the agricultural revolution really does have a lot to answer for!) and to take items that are rich in anti-oxidants was the way to go. Not only that, but sodium also has a part to play in the downfall of our well oiled meat machine, too much salt can also play unwanted tin whistle tunes inside the head it seems.
Not only am I now taking a variety of supplements as outlined above (left stack of Lion’s Mane and Niacin for tinnitus – right stack of vitamin D3 and zinc for Covid prevention – yes it’s a thing!), my mind-body-soul coach “L” suggested that I get onto Anthony William (aka the Medical Medium), who has an interesting backstory of contacting “the other side” to provide nutritional advice to his clients and the general public. One of the main approaches in the morning is to kick start the detox process by consuming a flagon of celery juice. Let’s see what state the guts are in over the coming weeks, clean and gurgle-free I hope.
So here we are at the start of the New Year, regressing to a well established, free to all (no subscription required) and age old lifestyle and optimized way of life. Ladies and gentlemen, let me re-introduce you to The Mediterranean Diet!
Before launching into what that entails, two things spring to mind. Firstly, my wife lived in Sicily for a number of years before we met and recalled this morning that her diet / lifestyle whilst there was great and her joie de vive was never better (youth playing its part of course!). Secondly, I reminded myself to watch the video below, which was a Ted Talk I saw a few years back which gave some insights into several studies completed from various parts of the world, including Sardinia which for the geographically challenged is an island slap bang in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Whether we actually want to live to one hundred is a moot point, the take-aways from the talk are well worth taking note of:
The Mediterranean Lifestyle
Whilst the focus on the below is a scientific approach to food and drink, lifestyle choices do go beyond diet. As Dan mentions above, exercise (especially the use of natural techniques and not putting the body under too much strain/pressure), mindfulness (in whatever form of that suits) and community (traditional ways of exchanging ideas and information via verbal dialogue and body language, not via technology) all play their part too in the enjoyment and fulfillment of life as a whole.
The Mediterranean Diet:
A diet that is high in healthy plant foods and relatively low in animal foods (although eating fish and seafood is recommended at least twice a week) is a good rule of thumb to bring optimized nutrition. The following outlines the basic principles of what to eat and what to avoid:
Eat Often: Vegetables (tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots,, sprouts, cucumbers, fruits (apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches), nuts & seeds (almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds), legumes (beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas), tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams), whole grains (Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread and pasta), herbs & spices (garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper), fish & seafood (salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels), healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil), water & wine (red wine – one glass maximum per day) and tea (herbal or black tea without milk or sugar).
Never Eat: Sugar-sweetened food and beverages (incl. table sugar), processed meats (sausages, hot dogs), refined grains (white bread, pasta made with refined wheat), refined oils (Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and others) and other highly processed foods (incl. those marked “low-fat” or “diet”, butter/margarine and various processed foods.
A low-sodium diet limits foods that are high in sodium (salt). Following a low-sodium diet will reduce the likelihood of high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart failure and hopefully in my case, tinnitus. We still need sodium in our diets for the salts lost during exercises and trips to the toilet, but moderating our in take is something to consider.
The recommended daily limit of sodium will vary depend on factors like gender and age, but generally speaking the daily recommendation is between 1.5g – 2g per day.
Nowadays, food labels tend to display the sodium they contain and a quick walk down the aisles at Morrison’s this morning revealed the same so it does become easier to calculate and regulate should you wish to be scientific about it.
Foods that have less than 5% of the daily limit of sodium are considered low in salt. Foods that have 20% or more of the daily limit of sodium are considered high in salt, and the following lists which food to avoid:
Processed Foods: Mixes for bread, biscuits, cake, and pudding, ready meals.
Instant Foods: Packet mash, cereals, noodles, and rice.
Packaged Foods: Stuffing, rice and pasta mixes, snack dip mixes, and macaroni and cheese.
Canned Foods: Canned vegetables, soups, broths, sauces, and vegetable or tomato juice.
Frozen Food: Ready meals, entrees, vegetables with sauces, and breaded meats Meats / Cheeses: Smoked or cured meat, such as corned beef, bacon, ham, hot dogs, and sausage, canned meats or spreads, such as potted meats, sardines, anchovies, and imitation seafood, delicatessen or lunch meats, such as bologna, ham, turkey, and roast beef, processed cheese spreads
Condiments & Seasonings: Limit use of salt, such as such as garlic salt, celery salt, onion salt, and table salt salt. Regular soy sauce, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, flavored vinegars, ketchiup and especially monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Bread and cereal: Choose breads with less than 80 mg of sodium per serving.
To keep the flavours up during cooking, replace salt with herbs and spices to foods instead of salt during cooking. No one wants to eat bland food, else the mind will wander quite easily over to the cookie jar (though if the above is put in practice, then it would be fine as it will be empty!).
Time will of course tell whether the above actions yield the positive outcomes and planned noise reductions inside my noggin, if at first you don’t succeed…
I’m a gemini, a true gemini, and as such there are multiple me’s living inside my head. Angels and daemons, Jekyll and Hyde, Dumb and Dumber. Friends and family have always said of me that I am always so passionate about everything I do, for about nine days…
The last few months, the first me thought it was a great idea to revert back to pescatarianism, the second me agreed. So both me’s felt better, less bloated more eco-friendly and generally happier with the diet element. After a while though, the second me (who had been doing a lot of research into off-grid living and pre-historic Britain) told the first me that it wasn’t enough, that the root of all evil was the agricultural revolution and that we should go back to basics, hunter-gatherer. The first me thought this was a most excellent idea (yes he just watched the new Bill & Teds film, sadly), tied up his woven shoelaces and stomped right in.
What they found was quite something. Clearly as a pair of idiots, they needed some guidelines to follow to see what food types and lifestyle changes they must follow in order to earn their Caveman badge, so it was only natural to purchase Living Paleo for Dummies.
The book itself is great, really easy to read and understand, gives the background to what paleo is and its origins from over 2.5 million years ago (when monkeys ate some funky mushrooms, saw Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and spawned the first truly cosmically conscious being), the do’s and don’ts of what one can and can’t eat and a remedial understanding of the science behind paleo and allegedly why it works so well as a lifestyle – not a diet.
Armed with some rudimentary knowledge, we set off on our week-long paleo trial to see what all the fuss was about. We kept a diary (as instructed in the book) to see what went well, not so well and how we felt before, during and after the process.
Weight = 87.5kg Breakfast = Banana, Apple Lunch = Eggs, Salmon Slices, Asparagus Dinner = Venison Steak, Mushrooms Drinks = Coffee, Lime Water Snacks = Pistachios, Peanuts Exercise = None Mood = Indifferent all day Fatigue = High
Notes = First day was a struggle, it didn’t help that we were on hangover day 2 after our trip away with the older kids camping trip Wales. Need to prioritise exercise and prepare / eat breakfast every day, no fail. Really enjoyed the venison again (same steaks that we cooked over the fire-pit on Saturday after the sun had descended behind the Clwydian hills), and the garlic mushrooms, although we need a better accompaniment than the crappy box salad from the supermarket, possibly cauliflower rice or greens. Coffee without sugar/stevia wasn’t too bad.
Weight = N/A Breakfast = Fruit and Spinach Smoothie Lunch = Eggs, Salmon Slices, Spinach Dinner = Venison Steak, Mushrooms, Cauliflower Rice Drinks = Coffee, Lime Water Snacks = Pumpkin seeds Exercise = Cross Trainer x 30 mins Mood = Good to Bad Fatigue = Medium
Notes = Loved the cross training session. Felt a bit full and sickly after eggs and salmon for lunch for the second day running, need to vary dinners as we’ll become bored of the same every day. Looked at soup recipes tonight. Felt like we wanted something sweet to drink most of the day, even cordials, but more like pop. Got tired in the evening but that was due to number crunching all day at work. Would have been nice to eat with the family but the missus threw a hissy fit when we wanted to also use the kitchen to cook cauliflower rice. That’s always the real struggle, not missing the food types, just the resistance of others. We get that we change our diet/lifestyle often (searching for methods and techniques that will provide better health, well-being and longevity), but constant criticism in what we choose to put in our own body is a real drag. Rounded the evening off nicely with a nostalgic trip down memory lane by playing Age of Empires, starting off as a stone age hunter-gatherer. A true paleo day!
Weight = N/A Breakfast = Fruit and Spinach Smoothie Lunch = Sweet Potato, Fennel and Coriander Soup Dinner = Huevos Gambas Rancheros Drinks = Coffee, Lime Water, Red Wine (small mouthful) Snacks = Nuts Exercise = None Mood = Good Fatigue = Medium
Notes = Woke up early and contemplated cross trainer again but legs still a little stiff so walked the dog instead. Worked out how to use the new soup maker and prepared breakfast and lunch. Very happy the way in which soup turned out, will be a paleo pal for sure! Gave us a mood boost, especially after a conflict in work. Soup was amazing, perhaps a little too spicy for the wife (chipotle chilli flakes) but we adored it. Felt like our insides are cleaner, two months of being a pescatarian has helped for sure. Have not felt bloated in a long time now (other than when on/after the beers). Probably need to eat more protein/meat, as we want to start pumping iron soon to put weight on our arms and shoulders. Dinner wasn’t that nice, added cocoa to it as per the recipe, too rich. Lot of post-meal gurgling. Gah. Got real tired in the evening, another “difference of opinion” with the wife over us eating something different even though after a full day in the office and us also cooking lunch and evening meal for everyone. Did pour ourselves a glass of red wine but only had a mouthful before pouring the rest down the sink.
Weight = N/A Breakfast = Eggs, Spinach, Tomatoes, Halloumi, Mushrooms, Guacamole Lunch = Sweet Potato, Fennel and Coriander Soup Dinner = Vegetable Stir Fry with Ginger, Cashews and Venison Strips Drinks = Honeydew/Rooibos Tea, Coffee Snacks = None Exercise = Cross Trainer x 30 mins Mood = Good Fatigue = Medium
Notes = Pee no longer smells of Sugar Puffs in the morning, but did have some minor cramping. Tinnitus is raging at the moment, no real root cause uncovered, not related to diet or kundalini yoga we think. Took the wife for breakfast (first paid trip out as a hunter-gatherer), we had a plate of vegetables but did have a slice of grilled halloumi (hangs heads in shame), we wondered if there was any paleo cheese, no. Cashew dip and paleo Doritos look nice though. Soup from yesterday still a resounding success. Same can’t be said for the blueberry muffins. Not a big fan of coconut and the coconut flour flavour we bought really came through, not to mention the lack of height and density of the “cakie”. Bin enjoyed it though. Had a wobble at dinner time, with the wife out with friends and our usual Thursday fatigue resorted in getting pizzas for the kids, sorely tempted to tuck in but didn’t, as we couldn’t cope with the laughter and sly remarks from the missus. We will be strong, we have willpower! Did read that some paleo folks do the 80/20 rule and allow non-paleo days which is something we may gravitate to (but still avoid anything processed).
Weight = N/A Breakfast = Fruit Smoothie Lunch = Broccoli and Fennel Soup Dinner = Broccoli and Fennel Soup, Almond Bread Drinks = Raspberry Tea, Coffee, Water Snacks = Veggie Sticks (Tomato & Kale) Exercise = Outdoor Run x20 mins Mood = Good Fatigue = Medium
Notes = Up early making Broccoli soup (rock n roll!). Another masterpiece, adore our “stolen” soup maker, makes it so easy, we say stolen (not as a nod to our Scouse lineage – but to explain before anyone calls the rozzers – during the lockdown, a kind Hermes delivery man (or woman) left a package on our doorstep with an address we’d never heard of. So we kept it in the hallway for 28 days to see if anyone would rightfully claim it, they didn’t so we acquired it for free, so not stolen, more “rehomed”). Another argument with the wife over evening meal, bored now, we may end up sticking to the paleo life just to spite her! Feel so cleansed inside and out, this is working. Tinnitus is still raging, keeping background sounds higher than normal to mask it, only just working. Went to Holland & Barrett for some provisions (almond flour mainly as the coconut flour isn’t good). Picked up some better soaps at a quarter of the price of Lush which should last four times as long by looking at the density. Came to the conclusion that there are so many amazing recipes out there one would never get bored of paleo, the only downside is the preparation and cooking time. As busy home office workers, we’ll need to get up earlier to prepare breakfast and lunch (but a vegetable soup should last us 2-3 days). Snacks are fine with fruit, biltong, nuts and seeds. May be that we use some weekend time to prepare food for the week ahead. Of course if we didn’t work we would have more time to invest, but we have six years to get this stuff off to a fine art. Picked up some cup measures so we don’t get caught out with US recipes as yesterday’s “muffins” were a disaster. Afternoon headache, so logged off early and caught some zeds. The Paleo for Dummies book did say that may happen with cutting out all sugar so it could be that. Made our first almond loaf with poppy seeds and it turned out great. A little dense and moist in the middle but we suspect we over-whisked and should have folded it instead. Will toast it lightly and that should do the trick. Could not be bothered cooking an evening meal so took the “bread” and soup. The bread was awful, just too sweet. Bread is meant to savory not sweet, but the coconut and almond flour cannot replace wheat flour for taste and consistency. On the basis that these are really the only big ingredients in paleo, baking really is off the menu for us. We guess if one was to live off the land in the UK, these items would not be available anyways so it’s no real loss. We do need to eat more though, one reflection on paleo is that it’s an easy lifestyle when working in the corporate domain, having a wife, three kids, energetic dog and having to cook everything from raw materials. Physical and mental fatigue is kicking in and we are in bed at 7:30pm on Friday night exhausted. One other thing is for sure, it ain’t cheap to live like a caveman either. We’ve also decided to hang up our running boots for good now. Few weeks back a brisk 5km left us with leg and joint pains for days, same already this afternoon, we’ll have to swap to the cross trainer and bike permanently now to avoid the impact damage. This week has been a challenge on many fronts both physically and mentally but will stick it out for the full week. We may have a blended diet/lifestyle going forward, taking the best bits from what we have learned over the seven days (which at the moment are fruit shakes for breakfast, vegetable soups for lunch, biltong, nuts and veggies sticks for snacks, plenty of water throughout the day, sugar free coffee, an evening meal that consists of meat/fish and two veg (all vegetables being on the menu not just some), the odd glass of red wine and avoiding all processed foods and sugars. On the physical front, walking, cycling, cross training, kayaking, weights and kundalini yoga will keep us on the straight and narrow, and meditation, meeting friends and blogging will keep our mind right. We’d say that would equate to around an 80% paleo lifestyle which is good enough to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul which ultimately promotes longevity which is why we really started this thing in the first place. Our aim is to set up a small holding in five years time, living as much off-grid as we can, so acquiring the right lifestyle diet and associated skills now is essential.
Weight = N/A Breakfast = Fruit Smoothie Lunch = Tuna & Egg Salad “Sandwiches” Dinner = Venison Burgers (Mushroom Buns) Drinks = Coffee, Red Wine (small) Snacks = Biltong Exercise = 10km Walk Mood = Great Fatigue = Low
Notes = Woke up at 5:30, no surprises going to bed so early. Took the pooch out early as he’s in a bad shape himself (flea infestation) and he enjoyed his early morning bimble on the beach. Long soak on the bath to unstiff the dead leg which worked. Morning trip to the grocery store for today’s paleo purchases. Tuna, egg sandwiches (Romain lettuce instead of bread) went down a treat, good change to the soup. Took the daughter around town for her birthday present run and found an amazing alternative food store in Liverpool, vegan and paleo heaven. Got some alternative pasta (vegetable-based penne and spaghetti) and crisps. The mushroom double decker venison burgers for evening meal were great, very full after eating two of them. Most food we’ve eaten in one day so far. Earned my small glass of red wine, and as Saturdays go this was a lean one. My eyesight was poor in the evening, probably to do with too much number crunching this week at work and the fact I haven’t had an eye test for a while. Checkup needed next week, don’t think it’s diet related. Excited for tomorrow – foraging course!
Notes = After our “morning manoeuvres”, we weighed in at 84.5kg, dropping exactly 3kg since the start of the week, putting us at our ideal weight. We didn’t start paleo to lose weight but it’s nice that it’s nudged us to our target quickly, which was probably down to the lack of processed crap we normally put into to our body and the increased and varied exercise regimes, which must now be maintained going forward. As our calorie intake has gone down, we need to boost it up to maintain our current weight. We love biltong and found an ethical producer in Sussex who purvey venison biltong so ordered a trial pack to see what they are like. Best biltong we’ve ever had was at a vineyard in Constantia, South Africa’s wine region just out side of Cape Town. A friend an us took the open-topped “red bus” and meandered our way through the many splendid vistas; Table Mountain, Cape Town’s marina/bay area, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Groot Constantia vineyard. Each vineyard had its own food stalls and market area, and the biltong was amazing. We bought a huge bag full and planned to eat a little for the remainder of our trip. Needless to say after a few wines and an awesome bus trip home through the scenic Hout Bay and Camps Bay, the bag was empty by the time we got back. Those memories fired up our long lost love of biltong, so naturally as it’s so expensive, our thoughts turned to making our own. A 45g packet in Morrisons cost £3. That’s roughly £120 for 2kgs if our maths are right. As one can buy a 2kg joint of topside or silverside beef (grass-fed of course) for around £10-£15, it makes total sense to make ones own in bulk. After reviewing some of the expensive purpose-built drying machines on Amazon and the free make-your-own drying box on Wikihow (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Biltong), we’ll get building next week (probably a wooden version) and store it in the “office” once our son buggers off back to University and we’ve had Rentokil in to defumigate his room. After watching the artsy animation movie Away with our daughter, we headed off to the beautiful Welsh countryside, just outside Ruthin, for our foraging course (full blog to follow) and munched our way through flora, fauna and fungi for four hours, collecting some fayre along the way for next weeks meals (Hen of the Woods and Pocini mushrooms look a delight!), the most enjoyable day out we’ve had for quite a while, very educational and inspiring. As we were late getting back and had to time to cook we had to go to the drive through and get fried chicken, not entirely paleo but we’re not going to beat ourselves up about it.
All in all we found the trial week very positive and educational. It gave us an insight into what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would consume which was of course easier for us due to technological advancement.
We’ve tried a great many diet over the years and have tried to select the best bits to keep the mind, body and soul maintained, falling foul as one does from time to time. One thing is for sure, we will continue to juice every morning and soup most afternoons and our evening meals will consist of mostly meat or fish and two veg. Most importantly, we will stay away from processed food as much as we can (including breads, pastries, sugar, rice and wheat products) and eat ethically. We will reintroduce all vegetables (potatoes, legumes etc) as if we do manage to set up an off-grid small holding in the future, we will be able to cultivate our own produce (we just wont set up our own fiscal-based community so that Humanity 2.0 doesn’t go the same way 1.0 went!). We will also make sure that we exercise every day, even if some days are lighter than others. We will maintain our course too for spiritual enlightenment, continuing our quest for knowledge and peace via yoga, meditation and cosmic discussions with like-minded individuals.
Reduced body weight Reduced bloating Reduced alcohol intake Reduced sugar intake Reduced toxicity Reduced fatigue Reduced cravings Reduced profits of “Big Corpa” Improved sustainability Improved culinary skills Improved exercise regimes Improved mental stability Improved willpower Improved vigour to live life differently Improved likelihood to live off-grid
Increased expenses Increased food preparation time Reduced food choices Negative attitude of others
The pros of paleo far outweigh the cons in our opinion and on that basis we would highly recommend paleo or paleo-lite (80/20 rule). Even if one did it for one or two weeks per month, the benefits are there in abundance. In the immortal words of Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys “Suck it and see, you never know”…