Yesterday I went for a walk along the canal towpath from Hebden Bridge to Todmorden and happened upon a hippy camp. There was an assortment of tents, metal containers and beat up retro camper vans which housed the inhabitants of the camp, and there were also communal cooking areas and makeshift sofas and seating for relaxation. I was immediately captivated and envious of the freedom these people have to live their alternative lifestyle. Sure, it is most probably freezing cold and enormously hard work to live this way, but often I crave the simplicity of living without all the trappings of the 21st century.
Then I got to thinking, could I really survive in this way myself? The romanticism of living a free and unfettered lifestyle is doubtless very attractive, but the realities must be very different. No hot water to bath or shower in, or appliances such as washing machines. Perhaps no means of heating the tent or metal container during the winter. Maybe cooking outside would be fun in the summer, but in the winter it would be hard to see the advantages.
It made me aware of just how idealistic I am with my romantic notions of living in a horse drawn gypsy caravan, or on board a canal barge. But does this mean that I should relinquish my dreams and just settle down to live a mainstream, traditional life? Is there any middle ground? I have often thought that I could definitely live a more pared down existence as long as I had some of the home comforts. Life for me would not be fun without lashings of hot water for showers; efficient heating so that I would be warm and cosy in the winter and a proper oven and hob so that I could prepare hearty, nutritious food. I think however that if I had these basic elements I could be more than happy living a much simpler life. And let’s face it, I would never want to lose the power to be imaginative and idealistic. I can’t think of anything worse than being constantly realistic. Oh, and please can I keep my iPhone?