Why was I able, in my forties, to take four years off to ride around the world? Because I had found a way to lead a life that cost very little to maintain. At the time I lived in an ancient ruin that I’d bought for $1000, in a beautiful but primitive part of France. Food and wine were cheap, and life was so satisfying that it was easy to do without the things that most working citizens seem to consider essential.
In one way or another I’ve been able to maintain that way of living ever since, for more than thirty years.
I’d rather grow food than buy it, and I prefer to make things rather than buy them, and if I do spend money it’s usually on tools.
Of course I’m also very lucky. My books, particularly Jupiters Travels, earn me money for extras. I have no debts, and I get to travel a lot. But apart from motorcycling and travel and writing, what I enjoy most is creating the house I live in.
It’s an endless work in progress and gives me enormous satisfaction. That’s the reason for the picture. I just built these railings around a hole in the floor where the stairs go down. 51 pieces of cedar, all cut, shaped, smoothed, stained and assembled by me, to my own design.
It’s far from perfect. There are many blemishes – it’s construction lumber, after all. But I love it, and what’s more to the point, it nourishes me. I get a lot of ideas from being so close to the material, and I’m convinced that it keeps me healthy in mind and body.
I’m all for national health insurance, but the best insurance is not to need it. So far, so good.
Around the railings is a floor of oak I milled from a tree that fell down here in 1998. And the reason for the railings? I have a 15-month-old grandson coming to live here, with his mother and father. Enough said!