The Off Grid Life: Part 1: Solar Power
Am I finally about to wave goodbye to the big city of Bristol after more than 30 years? Apart from two years living in Cheptsow, Bristol’s been my home for my whole life. But no more. I’ve given it up for two acres in the Welsh countryside. Two acres and a large shed. Well, a barn really. After months of planning and talking endlessly about it, my partner, Dominique, have finally decided to up sticks to live an off-grid life. This website, No Script For Life, will be the place where I write candidly about what this off-grid lark is really all about.
I’ve spent two years researching information on the internet about how to achieve an Off-grid life, and while there’s plenty of articles with practical information, there’s also lots and lots of ‘blogs’ written by people sponsored by manufacturers and sellers of this and that to push something specific. There’s a lot of dross out there, aimed to get you to buy something, or think a certain way. There are genuine sites out there, of course, and they are helpful, but nowhere have I found anything that tells you what it’s actually like.
I’m writing this six months after the event, with the benefit of hindsight, enabling me to view the first months of this year with a sense of pragmatism and coolness that I wasn’t in possession of at the time.
Let me set the scene. Financially it was tight. We planned for the loan on our land to take the place of our monthly rent, as such we needed to move out of our cramped house-share bedroom within the first two months of our new ownership. Partly because my parents needed our pet rabbit to move out of their back bedroom, where he’d lived free range for eight months (long story), and partly because we couldn’t afford to rent our room and pay the loan on the land at the same time. We were in a situation when it was either do or die. If things weren’t already daunting enough, our budget evaporated around December after paying the solicitor’s fees. We were working menial day jobs but were getting good wages, but still we were short of funds.
The ongoing ‘narrative’ of our new life adventure starts at the beginning of 2019, with us at least 500 pounds short of what we needed to get the bare basics in place…
12 January 2019
Today it feels like things are getting real. Yesterday, the purchase for our two acres with stable and paddock was finalised and we became land owners. We’ve never owned any property, we’ve only ever rented. It feels really strange to think I now own property. Today was when our our planning became something more than just an idea, just a dream. Now it’s happening, but are we ready to embark upon our mission to become semi-self-sufficient on our two acres?
The first cost saving drive came into force today. A bargain – two 245w solar panels plus connectors and 6m of cable for £170.
I found James on Gumtree. a decent bloke. He lives on a boat and travels along the canals of Somerset with his friends. He had a bunch of solar panels for sale. As we drove onto the forecourt of the fuel station we agreed to meet at, we couldn’t miss him. Duffle coat, dark curly hair. Yep, that was him. First thing he said to me when we shook hands, “you won’t get a panel in your car.” I drive a hatchback. No problem. James searched out a sugar-encrusted (yes, really) rope pulley and sold it to me for £1. Nice. We used some cardboard from the recycling bin outside the garage to ensure the roof of my car didn’t get scratched and James helped me load the two panels on, sold me a length of sugary rope for 50p and sent us on our way. I get the feeling James does a lot of deals like this.
We arrived home 40 minutes later. Not the easiest of drives with two 2metre long panels on the roof of my little hatchback, and some of the roads were still icy or snow-covered after the weather “event” that southern Englanders go on about. Regardless, we arrived home with two solar panels. Bargain!
First we had nothing. Then we had land. Now we have power. Next, we needed something to live in. Luckily I already had an extremely cunning plan…
Copyright Martin Gregory 2019