Categories
Lifestyle

How one couple escaped to live in a shipping container

Tad and Fiona had enough of rising living costs and bills, so they made a drastic life change

Our wandering scribe Peter R went to meet them

A light sheen of early morning frost glistens across the grass and the ribbed markings of tractor tyres are rock solid to the touch. Next to a large metal shipping container stands a thickly woven canvas, doubling as a tent. A small whisp of smoke rising gently from a hole at the top.

Last night was cold. Not quite freezing, but cold. The tent, surprisingly, has held its warmth. For the past year this shipping container, along with the accompanying structures, has been home to Thomas “Tad” Fearn, his wife Fiona, their young son Frankie and not to forget the dog, Juniper.

dog in the forest

The pressures of life led this family to the wilderness

As the crush of life increased, the bills, costs and charges continued to relentlessly drop in to the mail box of their small rented flat on the outskirts of a large southern UK city. Whenever living in a shipping container, in the comparative wilderness, is more preferable than their previous arrangement, it would appear to be a case of society gone wrong.

However they ended up here, the family are happier than ever before. When their rental tenancy ran its course, rather than negotiating a renewal they looked for other options. Better options. Options that many would perceive as being a little wacky.

“This is our second winter here so we are more experienced than before,” says Tad. “The cold weather can be harsh. Keeping Frankie warm and comfortable is the main priority. We’ve worked a pretty good setup though.”

A wood burning stove provides warmth and comfort

A large wood burning stove acts as the hub of the container. Like a de facto aga, providing warmth and cooking capabilities. The tent is a scaled down day-to-day living quarters and more economic during the day as it is smaller and easier to heat.

All of their clothes and linen holds an earthy, smoky smell, but the ventilation means there are no breathing issues. A meaty stew bubbles away gently on the stove, held up by square metal beams, over a fire of sticks and one resilient log.

Life costs are sky rocketing

Tad repaired bicycles in a previous life, spending what he earned on home, heating, commuting and food. Fiona stopped her part-time job in a bakery when Frankie was born. What little money they had was spent on the necessities of life. Cash was tight and there were no luxuries.

“Tad would get up early and go to work, then cycle home and work on doing up old bikes at our flat so he could hopefully sell them on for a bit of extra cash,” explains Fiona. “Everything was covered, all the bills, but we never had anything left over to save or spend on dinners or fancy clothes. It wasn’t like that.”

One day Tad was fixing a mountain bike for a customer who told him about “alternative lifestyles” and people living on houseboats, in garden sheds or lorry trailers.

“It was both eye opening and inspirational,” says Tad. “I knew these things existed but I didn’t think people actually lived that way. At least not in this country. I didn’t see it as an option for us, or something that just anyone could do”.

“It was a shift in consciousness alright!” laughs Fiona. “Tad does have some strange ideas and I thought it was another one. The more we talked about it though it made sense in our situation. If other people like us could do it then why couldn’t we?”

costs of life

Looking for potential new spaces, off the grid

Tad threw out some feelers and was put in touch with a contact who had two potential dwellings. An old bread van or a shipping container. The container was already on a piece of farm land, situated behind some woodland and originally intended to provide winter shelter for cattle. It had never been properly utilized, however, and the farmer was ready to just let it be.

Rather than rust away into an eye sore, that would eventually disappear under the growth of roots and wild plants, Tad pitched the idea of breathing some new life into the structure.

“He thought we were bonkers for wanting to do it but accepted that we were decent, trustworthy people and not looking to squat or wreck the place so he said give it a go,” says Tad.

He continues: “There’s a small stream running behind it for fresh water and lots of unkempt forestry around for us to gather firewood. The natural resources are amazing. It’s not always pretty. The scenery is beautiful in the summer but very intimidating and demanding in the winter months.”

The shipping container is used for storage and sleeping

The shipping container is for sleeping and storage. The tent serves as a kind of living room or daily quarters. Thick rugs, well cared for pot plants and other baubles adorn the area.

“It’s a bit messy, but it’s home,” smiles Tad. “We aspire to be minimalists but as you can see it’s not exactly working out.”

Keeping the tent secured to the ground (using wooden stakes) has been imperative after some strong wins last year nearly took it away. Flooding from excess rainfall is also a concern, as Tad points to the corners that have let in water in the past.

Clothes are washed in pots of heated stream water and the work never stops. Summer will be spent preparing for winter by ensuring there are ample supplies of fuel and food to survive and thrive.

It’s Fiona’s turn this week to clean out the compost toilet. Bag and spade in hand, she pulls on her faux fur boots and trudges off into the woods to dispose of the waste.

She grins back into the tent, “What a glam life!”

Cleaning waste in the woods. What a glamorous life!

Fiona

Ignoring the media and negative culture

As the sun sets they will retire to the shipping container, light some candles, brew some tea or coffee and read a book. Batteries power the clock radio that also brings in the occasional news bulletin. However, both admit to avoiding news, politics and current affairs as much as possible. A wise choice.

“We don’t want that type of negativity out here,” confirms Tad. “Why do we need 500 TV channels pumping in nonsense all day? We have plenty of stuff to do without ceding our imagination, time and attention.”

“We live in the beautiful surrounds of nature,” agrees Fiona. “What more could you ask for?”

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Do you live on a homestead or interested in this lifestyle? Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Lifestyle

Why are we escaping to digital devices?

iPads, tablets and all manner of gadgets are ruling our lives on a daily basis

Written and researched by Monica C

There is no doubt that high-tech gadgets and digital devices have made life easier for people in the modern world. It is actually because of this convenience and the seemingly endless list of things that you can do using these devices that it is easy for adults to develop an addiction. It creeps up on them and before they know it, they are already too immersed in their online connection and they have become disconnected with the real world. 

Watch out for these symptoms of addiction to digital devices:

  • Lack of focus, concentration or attention 
  • Memory problem
  • Indecisiveness in decision-making
  • Fertility problem caused by too much exposure to electro-magnetic field (EMF) or radiation of the gadget
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Trouble in communication (expressing thoughts or opinions verbally)

A few years ago, experts identified “digital dementia” as a memory problem caused by the abusive use of gadgets. Digital dementia occurs in human brain cells and chemistry.

The “phone vibration syndrome” was also found to be common among adults. People thought they felt the phones in their pockets vibrating only to find no messages or notifications when they check. 

People are often so engrossed in their smartphones that they do not notice what’s happening around them and would often defend themselves and claim that they are actually multi-tasking.

There are even instances when they do not actually hear what other people are telling them because they are too busy flipping through their Android or iPhone apps.

Rules to Fight Gadget Addiction

Just like any other addiction, this one is not impossible to shake off although many people would find it challenging. The process takes commitment and willpower to pull through. Try these rules to fight your digital device addiction in your day-to-day activities: 

  • Don’t text while you’re driving. Keep this rule not only for your safety but also for the safety of other people who are with you. If you need to text someone, do it before you drive. If someone is in the car with you, let him check your phone and respond to the message for you. 
  • Don’t use your phone while you are waiting in line to order your meal or while you’re getting on a train. Be mindful of the people around you. 
  • Avoid using your phone when you’re already in the bedroom, especially right before bed time as the light affects your ability o fall asleep and sleep well.
  • Don’t use your phone when you are spending time with your loved ones or friends.
  • Leave your phone at home if you don’t need it. If you’re just going for a jog around your village, you don’t have to bring your phone with you. Don’t keep checking your phone when out at a meal with friends or a sports event or similar. Be present of the situation instead of getting lost in a digital world.

Be a responsible adult. If you have kids, set an example for them. If you are able to resist and fight your addiction to high-tech devices, it will be easier for you to implement rules for your kids to help them fight their addiction as well. 

person-801823_960_720

Helping Children Overcome their Digital Device Addiction

It’s alarming to see the number of children addicted to mobile devices. This dependency greatly impacts the lives of kids in the same the way it affects the adults.

One of the common problems linked to children’s addictions to gadgets is getting poor grades in school. Most kids get easily bored in studying their lessons but they can spend hours in playing with their gadgets.

They can’t focus on their class discussions, they are always looking forward to having breaks or going home so they can finally use their devices again. 

Children are also becoming forgetful. Their increased exposure in the virtual world is believed to be the culprit for their lack of interest to memorize their lessons in school. Why bother memorizing things when you can recall it at the touch of a button?

The problem is that they don’t care about these lapses as much as they do when they forget their phones or tablets. According to studies, children experience anxiety and agitation when they realize that they forgot to bring their devices with them. 

Most kids will throw tantrums when they are prohibited to use their devices, making it harder for parents to control them. Other kids, especially teens, would refuse to follow orders at home if their parents didn’t buy them the latest gadgets. 

The social abilities of children can also be hampered by gadget addiction. Many kids would rather stay at home to play with their devices rather than attend a children’s party. As a result, they may not get along with other kids easily. 

One of the biggest problems that may arise from this addiction is the way kids believe in the characters that they encounter while playing their mobile games. Some games that include fighting can make a kid feel it’s normal and it’s okay to be brutal to his friends.

Playing Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed could unduly influence a child’s thinking and normalize dangerous behavior, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. Many use it as an escape mechanism but it could become more sinister when accessed by younger, more impressionable individuals.

grand theft auto
GTA: harmless or harmful?

Ways to Fight and Prevent Gadget Addiction 

Parents as well as caregivers should be responsible for implementing strict rules to the kids. They need to set up clear guidelines about using their devices so that the children will fully understand what can happen if they break the rules. 

Here are some rules that you may apply to your kids:

  • Don’t expose really young children to digital devices. There are other items or activities that can be used to keep young children preoccupied.  
  • If you must allow them to use digital devices, impose a limit to their gadget use. It is important to be firm and consistent when doing this. Yet, you should not make it seem like you are depriving them of something. A better approach would be to have other activities programmed in their daily schedules. Say that gadget time is over and it’s time to see Mr Sun for some outdoor fun. You can also apply this to other electronics like your television and their electronic toys. 
  • Set a schedule when your children are allowed to use their devices at home. It could be after dinner or after doing their homework. Set a time that is suitable for them. 
  • Don’t place the television or computer in your children’s bedroom. 
  • Observe a tech-free time at home when everyone in the house, including adults, is not allowed to use any gadget.
  • Monitor your children’s access to the device by sitting by their side while they are playing. This is a perfect opportunity to talk and have fun together as you watch them play their favorite game.
  • Avoid using any mobile device in front of your kid, unless it’s for emergency. If you have to use your phone or laptop for work-related purposes, do it when your children are not home or when they are already asleep. 
  • Teach your children the importance of using gadgets in moderation. 
  • Provide other means of entertainment such as books or a backyard pool. 

Kids are competitive. They would do anything just to get what they want. You can take advantage of this by making the use of gadget as a reward for their good deeds.

For example, they can only use their device after they finish their homework or household chores. This could help them develop self-discipline and willpower to overcome their gadget addiction.

boy-1946347_960_720

Don’t forget to praise your kids for their efforts in following your rules. By doing so, your kids will feel that they did something good and they will be inspired to do it again next time. 

A female app developer, who is a mother, admitted that she is also struggling to keep her children from getting addicted to smartphones or tablets.

Monica

For this reason, she works hard, along with other developers, to create Android apps that are educational. They also find ways to create more games that are academic but fun at the same time. 

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Lifestyle

Escape from Technology: smart phone addiction in adults and children

It’s shocking and we don’t want to admit it – but we have a problem 

Written and researched by Monica C

The number of people addicted to high-tech devices has increased dramatically over the last few years. In addition to this worrying trend, people became more addicted to social networking sites and applications. The problem was not only observed among adults but among children as well, as devices and applications proliferate youngsters’ lives on a daily basis.

In this book, you will learn more about how this addiction has affected, and continues to affect, the lives of many people. You will also understand what computer scientists and web developers do to make sure that people keep using their products and services, regardless of the implications.   

Moreover, this book provides useful tips to help you fight addiction to social media and high-tech gadgets. You will also find guidelines to help your kids control their use of devices.  In the last chapter of this book, you will find some great apps that you can use to help you overcome your addiction to digital devices and social media. 

By the time you finish reading, you will be equipped with lessons that will help you become responsible in managing your usage of social media and high-tech devices.

Monica

Adults’ Addiction to Smartphones and Other Gadgets

Addiction to gadgets is a common problem among people today. Too much use of smartphones and other types of high-tech devices can detrimentally affect the lives of many people. This addiction causes a negative impact towards people’s health and lifestyle.

According to a recent study, 56% of Americans own smartphones. High-tech devices like computers, laptops, and tablets are now part of people’s daily lives. Some people use gadgets for entertainment while others use them mainly for communication.  

These innovative devices are designed to be used in various ways and for different purposes. They are most commonly used for communication, social interaction, entertainment, information gathering and dissemination, and content production among other uses.

People find these devices convenient for doing online banking, completing projects for school, and creating presentations for work among others. There’s no doubting the positive impact such technologies and systems have had on society, but there is a downside to this as well.

The Problem

It’s a big issue for some adults when they misplace their smartphones – I’m the same, it can be an awful feeling. When this happens, people suddenly feel lost or incomplete and are unable to accomplish any task because they rely heavily on their gadgets to do their jobs. People use their smartphones, tablets, or laptops wherever they are and whenever they want to.

They are used even in places like the cinema or the bathroom, where these gadgets are considered out-of-place or intrusive to some extent. Who hasn’t quickly whipped out their iPhones when perched on the loo to quickly check Facebook or send a text?

The addiction to smartphones and other digital devices is further underscored by stories and accounts of people taking their devices to bed with them. They surf on their tablets, read eBooks, or play games on their smartphones, supposedly to help them fall asleep, much like counting sheep.

When their smartphones beep or ring, they pick up or check for messages even as they are already dozing off. Intimate moments are not spared from this addiction as studies have reported that one out of six couples has admitted checking their phones or texting while having sex

There’s also the issue of texting while driving. In many countries, this practice is widely prohibited and for good reasons. Studies show that this practice is seven times more dangerous than drink driving. 

drink driving
Texting while driving is on the increase

Spreading Like Wildfire

All of the instances are indications that addiction to digital devices and gadgets is indeed a bigger problem than people want to admit it is. Frequently using and the seeming inseparability with these gadgets and devices is perhaps one of the most common compulsive habits observed in adults today. The sad news is that children and teenagers are likewise emulating these habits and patterns and therefore also developing a dependency or addiction. 

child-1183465_960_720

Children’s Addiction to Smartphones and Other Gadgets

Many addiction experts agree that the worst victims of gadget addiction are children and young people. Like adults, kids and teenagers use their devices all the time and are gradually becoming too attached to them. 

An independent research team in the UK interviewed over a thousand of teenagers and the respondents were asked about how they use their smartphones. Results showed that 92% of teenagers went online every day and more than half of them use their phones more than twice a day. Some of the respondents admitted to using their phones even when they were in school. Around 12% of the kids use their phones once a day, while 6% of the kids say they go online once a week. 

Most of the children nowadays grow up to having instant access to almost anything they want. Kids are given basic phones at an early age and most of them get smartphones by the time they become teenagers. Only a handful of parents put their foot down when it comes to allowing their kids to have gadgets or actively work on limiting gadget use. 

As children witness the addictive behavior from their parents, it is but natural for them to engage in the same practices as well.

Making the Addiction Worse

There are bigger problems that spring from the issue of addiction to digital devices and gadgets. If the kids are vulnerable to addiction to these devices, it is highly likely that they will also be vulnerable to other addictions. Addictive behaviour and dependency is something that goes beyond just one object of obsession.

Becoming dependent on a device at an early age can inadvertently open the door to susceptibility to addictions and dependencies later in life.

Sexting is another more recent issue that comes with digital device and social media addiction. Recently, concern has grown over the exposure of children to pornographic materials through their digital devices and the sharing of these materials through their smartphones.

Each year, the number of children exposed to explicit content grows. Kids can now access adult websites even without supervision and concern has grown over sexual or fetish content getting through the filters and on to children’s YouTube or for betting companies to target youngsters with well-known characters flashing on screens to advertise gambling games.

In a recent survey involving 1,500 teachers, around 75% of them admit that they are aware of students sharing sexual images and videos. Over the last three years, more than 2,000 children were involved in crimes linked to disturbing images. Many teenagers describe sexting as “normal.”

Most young girls think that sending naked pictures to someone is a common occurrence among their peer group. They say that it only becomes a problem if their parents find out. 

Kids also become more attached to their digital devices when they get addicted to playing mobile games. What’s worse is that it’s actually the parents who are often to blame for this kind of addiction. They use digital devices as surrogate or virtual nannies to keep the kids from becoming too rowdy, noisy, or fussy.

They think that for as long as their kids are preoccupied with their games on their devices, they are less likely to get into mischief or make a mess. What parents sometimes do not realize is that they are encouraging and supporting addictive behavior in their children. 

Mandy Saligari, an addiction expert, said that parents tend to overlook the addictive nature of high-tech devices. She notes that giving a tablet or a smartphone to a child is like giving him or her a gram of coke or a glass of wine.

She observes that many parents pay more attention to keeping their children away from alcohol and drugs rather than to keeping them from using their gadgets too much. They are failing to see that it’s the same addictive behaviour regardless if it’s alcohol and drugs or digital devices and social media.  

ipad-1721500_960_720

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Lifestyle

Escape the Rat Race to live in a van

Life got too hectic for Dusty so he grabbed some wheels and took to the road

Our man Peter R hitched a ride to see how he did it

Dusty Apostle (not his real surname you’ll be surprised to hear) is between the stage of consuming a hearty breakfast and facing the reality that there are pots and pans to be washed. The incessant waves of Covid-19 are meddling with many people’s daily routines but he is managing to remain focused on other things.

Having worked in an office for 11 years in financial services -often stuck in the British version of a cubicle existance- Dusty knows there is more to life than a 9-5 grind.

He has been living in a used Autotrail Mohican van for the last few months and is feeling motivated.

“This van is perfect because it offers me all the comforts and facitilies I need, all under one roof,” he says. “I have everything I need in here, like a pullout bed, cooking equipment, storage for some books and clothes. My fold-up bike is tucked away nice and handy as well.”

carrying a bicycle
Bicycles are practical for getting around quickly

Life in a business park grew stale

The sparse, naturally cramped, environment is a far cry from where Dusty once spent his days, in a business park on the outskirts of London. With thousands of workers buzzing like flies around the complex all day, there was little time for relaxation or peace and quiet in that location.

As the interest in online financial services and robo investing grew, Dusty’s job regularly changed. Longer hours, more pressure and a “harder working culture” as was envisioned at the time by a new CEO. Many of his co-workers lapped it up, eyeing new opportunities and fresh challenges.

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important

Bertrand Russell

For Dusty, there was little more than a sense of dread at what was to come. “The general vibe was of excitement at all the money everyone was going to make and all the stuff they would buy,” he says. “Nobody stopped to consider the extra hours and added stresses that would come with the changes.”

Society obsesses over materialism and owning ‘stuff’

If Dusty was going to escape from this cycle of materalism and an endless striving to own and buy more items, he would have to plan a great escape. Living in a van was appealing but not his first consideration. Backpacking, working abroad or, like one of our recent intervieweees Margaret, setting up on a country homestead were also alluring options.

“I was always passionate about self sufficiency and looking after my own interests, so jumping into something completely new was a possibility. I thought about seasteading first, or some other kind of water-based activity. But it was so bloody cold here in the UK that I was worried about falling overboard in the middle of winter!”

Despite doing his research and constantly scanning the internet for options, nothing really happened until Dusty reached a low point in the office. Sitting filing paperwork at nearly midnight, as the team scurried to close on a lucrative deal, he realised it was time to act.

“It pretty much became now or never,” he recalls. “I realised that I would have to do something radical – jump without a parachute I suppose- and hopefully land on my feet.

“I actually received a lot of support from my colleagues, which was both surprising and very reassuring. I expected a few to say I was nuts but that wasn’t really the case. One or two said they wished they could do the same. Thinking back now I would tell them they can.”

living on a boat
Life on a boat has its drawbacks

Living in a van was the most appealing choice

Dusty made two life-changing decisions: he handed in his notice and bought a used camper van. By now he had done plenty of additional studying into multiple lifestyle choices, and van dwelling seemed like an appealing option.

“Living in a van appealed to me because it was cheap to run compared to living in a house or flat and it was on the road so I would be able to move about as I please, from location to location, finding places that suited me.”

Dusty went about contacting some more well established road campaigners and grabbing as many practical tips as he could. Nothing, however, could prepare him for some of the trials and tribulations that have occurred since he first took to running the dual carriage ways of the UK and beyond.

“From about October on it can get a bit chilly. I’ve had to invest in a few pairs of woolly socks, thick vests and a furry hot water bottle. It’s weird going to sleep in a beanie hat but it has to be done.”

Dusty might be a late starter but he has swiftly adapted to living in a van. Of course there have been some hairy moments along the way.

“Finding a good, safe spot to park for the evening can be difficult sometimes. I parked up in an industrial estate once and woke up the next morning to the sound of crashing and banging all around. I thought I was being towed away onto the back of a truck! Turns out I had stopped next to some bins and they were getting emptied at like 7am. It was quite literally a wake up call though. I take a closer eye to my surroundings when settling down for the evening.”

Dusty decided not to document his journey online

Now with over a year of experience under his belt, Dusty has decided against blogging or recording his journey in any way on social media. He has nothing negative to say abut those who do but it is just not for him and it took me a while and the help of a mutual friend to persuade him to agree to this interview.

“I’m sure I could write down a few stories and tips for other people thinking about doing this but a lot of it is already out there. Bloggers and podcasters are doing a better job than I could.”

Does he keep in touch with anyone still grinding away in the corporate rat race?

“One or two folks I would email from time-to-time. I don’t even have a smartphone or anything, just a top-up mobile in case of emergencies. I dip in to a Starbucks or the library to check emails.”

Dusty’s dream to escape the rat race has been realised and he has little idea of where he’ll end up next. That said, there is one place he won’t be returning to anytime soon…

“No chance you’ll find me in an office ever again!” he laughs. “If the van life gets too much I’ll pick litter off the streets first and live in a tent before you catch me sitting at a desk, punching numbers into a computer.”

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Lifestyle

Quitting the Rat Race: How one woman escaped her 9 to 5 job

Margaret needed to escape the grind so she took action

By Peter R

On a roasting Friday afternoon in rural England, while the trees baked and the only sound is that of a distant stream, Margaret is busy pruning an unruly hedgerow.