Living off-grid in the UK


When I hear that term I tend to picture two extremes; Ted Kaczynski and Christopher McCandless on one end of the spectrum and well-funded hipsters who build forty thousand dollar cabins where they spend the weekend when it’s not too cold.

For the past week I’ve been watching a series of videos produced by a chap who goes by the pseudonym of Max Ironthumper. Max made a couple dozen videos showing how he restored an old Land Rover (11a). I’ve been addicted to Land Rover porn for the last six months and was immediately hooked by Max’s laid back style and can-do attitude. (Two attributes I admire and covet)

While poking around on Max’s YouTube channel I came across this video (above) in which he talks about how and why he lives off the grid. There’s nothing evangelical about Max’s reasons for how he lives, just an honest account of how he does it. I don’t know if Max lives alone. In one of the restoration videos he mentioned a partner and we get a few glimpses of his dog, his cat, and his chickens.

From a technical perspective, this video is especially effective. For 20 minutes Max speaks extemporaneously with only a few notes. That’s really hard to do but Max has the gift. He’s not afraid to let you see him pause, to think and reflect on something he said or is about to say. I’m making Max sound more philosophical than he probably is. And there’s plenty of technical stuff in this video for the DIY crowd.

I’d be willing to fly across an ocean for the chance to hang out with Max in his shop for a day (and ride in one of his Land Rovers).

PS: If you liked this video, I recommend Project Awesome.

1993 Chevy (Geo) Tracker LSi

One of the coffee shop regulars pulled up in this little beauty today. The interior is… snug.

The Chevrolet Tracker, formerly the Geo Tracker, is a mini SUV produced for Chevrolet and Geo by CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll, Ontario. Although appearing as a compact SUV, the Tracker was actually certified as a Light truck due to its off-road capabilities. The Tracker was produced under many brands in several different editions and in many countries.

Old Safe

Stopped by a local locksmith this week to have a key made and spotted this old safe. It had been in someone’s barn for a while and they brought it in to have it opened to see what was inside. The locksmith drilled the safe and found what looked to me like one of the first iPods. Would love to know the story.

Unwanted keepsakes

Barb grew up with five brothers and sisters all sitting around a big dinning room table that was soaked in memories. After her parent died it sat in our basement for years. She was sure a niece or nephew (we are child-free) would want this — and other — treasures. They didn’t, for all of the reasons mentioned in this interesting story.

As baby boomers grow older, the volume of unwanted keepsakes and family heirlooms is poised to grow — along with the number of delicate conversations about what to do with them. According to a 2014 United States census report, more than 20 percent of America’s population will be 65 or older by 2030. As these waves of older adults start moving to smaller dwellings, assisted living facilities or retirement homes, they and their kin will have to part with household possessions that the heirs simply don’t want.

My parents grew up during the Depression (mom on a farm, pop in town) so when they could afford to buy some stuff, they did. And it was important to them.

The competitive accumulation of material goods, a cornerstone of the American dream, dates to the post-World War II economy, when returning veterans fled the cities to establish homes and status in the suburbs. Couples married when they were young, and wedding gifts were meant to be used — and treasured — for life.

I’ve been looking around me as I write this, looking for things I’ll someday want to find a home for. Things with sentimental value. There’s an old microphone used at the station my father and worked at but any collector of radio memorabilia will be thrilled to have it.

As I’ve come to understand that my memories aren’t as real as I once thought them to be, the material items associated with those memories seem less valuable.