A Wild YearApril 30, 2015 01:00
What would you give to swap the daily grind for an outdoor life under canvas?
When Jen and Sim Benson first put together their book 'Wild Running' they got a taste of what it would be like to live a wilder life. They were hooked, lulled into a lifestyle that brought with it the closeness of the family unit and the chance to live within the UK's wild spaces.
Last October they decided to do it again, only this time they were all-in and gave up their house for a tent. Winter in England, without bricks and mortar, can be a decidedly cold, damp and miserable experience. The alternative, of living the 9 to 5 and missing a lot of their two young children's early experiences, made the decision an easy one. "We'd probably have gone crazy by now if we'd carried on the way we were!" says Jen.
The aim is to spend one full year in the wild. As this lifestyle began in earnest in November the family are now half way through their experience but show no sign of wishing the journey's end was nearer. "We're going to keep going until November 2015. And then we might just carry on - who knows!"
And who can blame them? There have been many highlights in the first six months and every day is an adventure that they get to have together. There's no race to get to work each day, no one in control of what they do. This means there's plenty of time to wander and explore the UK. Yes, there are chores but even tasks like boiling water and heating the tent become enjoyable, only Jen and Sim could put into words why this is so.
"It tends to be the little things: the way the night fills with owls in a forest; dozing off to the sound of waves breaking on the shore; the morning sun on the tent; watching the sun set over the sea on the south coast; playing on deserted winter beaches and brewing up tea with our Kelly Kettle; unzipping our little canvas home onto a new and exciting vista."
The recent arrival of longer days and warmer weather has no doubt lifted their spirits somewhat but so has the generosity of many a landowner who has given them a pitch for a discount or free of charge.
For now this family are content to continue their exploration of Britain. After this who knows? Surely they won't sit still just yet. Perhaps Europe beckons. They live to document their experiences, which you can see on their blog, awildyear.co.uk, so hopefully there will be more of this lifestyle to come. And there's another passion they share - wild running - so these two are not ones to sit idly by.
Here at SoulPad we're pleased to see a family really taking the outdoors by the horns. It's brave, it's a little bit crazy, but when someone follows their passion as this couple do, it's beautiful too.
More pics in our gallery.