Rerooting: a home for Eloïse

Extreme electrosensitivity makes most jobs impossible and has lead me on a poetic, eventful, exhausting, seven year journey to find a home, researching and developing sustainable livelihood all the way. Now at last I’ve found somewhere I could live, work and be well. Could you by any chance help me to buy this hidden little plot?

I’ve launched a crowdfunder called Rerooting: a home for Eloïse. I’m trying to raise £20,000 to top up my other sources to reach the grand total of £55,000 for this modest property. Below is the outline of my plan, and there’s background info about my business figures and health condition that I’d be glad for you to read here.

Thank you so very much.

3/4 of an acre, a third of which is under eight foot of brambles so I have to slash my way into the house and can’t actually photograph the front!

At last this summer I’ve found a small, very roughly habitable, rubblestone cottage buried in a quarter acre of eight foot high brambles, with another half acre of tree-fringed glade, in a pocket of properly rural countryside with no mobile phone coverage and friendly neighbours, that will be mine for a very modest £55,000. It has a new roof, a new woodburner, free spring water, and a very basic bathroom and kitchen. 

As well as the normal surveying process, I’ve had both a builder’s and an architect’s advice on it (friends in the right places, thank you Chris and Chris). It is structurally sound enough but there is work to be done to deal with damp and lack of use; it has old, skeletal electrics, no boiler, and an old, legally obsolete, septic tank. 

But I have tools, skills, books and contacts; I know how to rough it, wing it, mend and make do, and anyway ‘modernising’ isn’t really in my vocabulary, you’ll understand; my needs and wishes are more humble, ancient and artistic. (For instance, I’d prefer to grow wax myrtle and make my own candles, and rig up a bicycle to power my pre-existing laptop, than get photovoltaic panels – although realistically I will likely cave and do all three, if I can afford to.) 

It’s not perfect, but it’s quite good, and one day it could be very much more than that, after a lot of graft. It’s got significant drawbacks even then (the main one being a not-very-walkable route/distance to the nearest market town), but also some great advantages: land that gently slopes to the south west; the house at the top of the site, not overlooked; its own spring as well as the shared village one piped into the house. The house itself has some nice features among the less nice ones, and ticks the essential boxes (no. 1: no mobile coverage) where in five years of searching nothing else has. 

I’m researching forest gardening, regenerative micro-agriculture and permaculture. Fleece animals and dyestuffs from my own dye garden are obvious avenues to pursue to build on my existing livelihood, although I want to be able to pivot to food production in case that becomes more urgently needed in the community. Either way, in fertile lands like these, and in the face of climate catastrophe, we need all the primary producers we can get in our precariously obese ‘service’ economies. We’ve got to keep these ancient skills alive – for the survival of our species.

I’m not going to fall in love with this project until the property is signed for, though the unhurried vendor has reliably agreed that it’s mine for the signing and the process is underway. I hope to move in this month or next, after putting down the deposit, as the vendor knows I’m in sore need of a home before the nights get cold and dark.

The only problem is that I don’t have £55,000. Nor am I ‘mortgageable’, an advisor told me. I’m frightened, as ever, but I do have a plan:

  1. The bank has, irresponsibly, offered me a normal loan of up to £30,000. Repayments are scary as hell on a tiny, erratic, arts income. And in my analysis, since my bank calls itself a mutual but is not, this money-created-as-debt-at-interest-by-those-privileged-with-a-license is a locking mechanism for our society’s material ills. But so much less choice than we like to think: shoulder the poverty tax and compromise my principles in the short term the better to keep fighting in the long term.
  2. Blessedly, there are some family funds I can draw on in addition.
  3. I have things to sell: my retro Mercedes; a yurt (currently backup accommodation but soon unaffordable luxuries); lots of handwoven garments and many more to come; plus two very fine musical instruments (if I can content myself with lesser versions).
  4. Once settled, I can be more productive: in the last seven nomadic years, there are seasons when I work a steady 45 hour week, months when I work a 50 or even 60 hour week, but times of upheaval in between where I barely work at all: beyond my control, exhausting and disruptive. (Life on the road is not a steady amble from one beautiful hilltop to another; there are vast swathes of inhospitable terrain – hostile territory, even – in between the very few remaining wildy refuges. Especially if you’re electrosensitive. Also, too often I have had to rely on family and friends, who can barely accommodate my electrosensitivity themselves.)
  5. There’s a gap in the local market for lawnmowing for secondhomeowners, which I could risk destroying my soul to do if bank loan repayments became really scary in my low season – a scythe would make it less environmentally loathsome and more of a campaign stunt. There’s also a gap in the local market for holiday cottage changeovers, ditto…

…and finally, you. To reduce the amount I have to borrow, I’m appealing to you. I’m launching a crowdfunder. This is hard to ask in our society (though in the Once and Future Village, friends, neighbours and family would all help each other build their homes if they could)…

Please would you help me buy a safe, stable, longterm home from which to further my (I hope you’ll agree) worthwhile activities? 

If so, if you’re reasonably comfortable/secure yourself, and not stretched too thin in over-giving, or stuck renting and resenting, or debt-stressed and floundering, as so many are… if so – and I can’t type a heartfelt enough ‘THANK YOU in advance’ – if so, please go to my crowdfunder page to make even the tiniest donation. I hope to raise £20,000 before November 30th, but sums will still be invaluable after that as I deal with poor drainage, decrepit septic tank, lack of boiler, rotten floorboards and stairs and so on. Your gift would make it work where without you it’s very, very touch and go. You can donate here: Rerooting: a home for Eloïse. And you can read more of the backstory here.