Going off grid
Peace and quiet is hard to come by these days. It is tucked away in the corners of the day, waiting patiently for car engines to stop and phones to be switched off. Having just moved home after a whirlwind 10 months in Asia, I have a whole new appreciation for moments like this, and a few weeks back we spent a night in a cabin built especially for them; an off-grid getaway perched on the outskirts of Oxfordshire in a little place called Alvescot.
The cabin we booked was petite, cozy and secluded. Erected on a large farm by part-landowner, Jeremy, and lovingly taken care of by his wife, Lisa. Ours was one of three cabins they currently own, none of which are visible to each other.
Our humble Ford Fiesta, Frank, was laden with warm clothes, a spare blanket and enough food for the next 24 hours. We had taken a slight detour on route to visit the award winning butcher, Patrick Strainge, in Bampton village. (Bampton, as it turns out, also happens to be the film set for Downton Abbey village – it is every bit as quaint and old-timey as you can imagine).
The rain that week had been hard and unforgiving, so Frank the Fiesta didn’t make it far down the muddy track at Rectory Farm. We collected our things and walked the rest of the way with landowner Lisa, who showed us the ropes when we arrived.
The wood-fired hot tub was already roring, and we were given instructions on how to keep it going. At a breezy 2 degrees outside it definitely needed longer to heat up, so we got settled in, made a hot cuppa and lounged the afternoon away.
The cabin is powered by solar, with a small gas stove, connected water taps and, of course, no wifi. There was enough power to run a small fridge, but (conveniently, if not comfortably) the weather was every bit cool enough for our milk and meat to be kept outside on the front deck.
That night we indulged on a dinner at The Plough Inn, a family run pub in the nearby village that serves delicious locally sourced grub and bloody good ales. The sky was clear and the moon was full. There was little more we wanted from the evening other than to return to the cabin by torchlight, start a fire and hop in the tub.
We woke the next day to find the countryside carpeted in white. My first frost in four years, and quite possibly Toms first in a lifetime. I took a long walk in the misty morning sun, while Tom stayed back (to guard the bed). We served breakfast – with Strainges famous sausages & bacon – on the front deck and enjoyed the last of the heat from our cabin wood burner before heading back to ‘normality,’ feeling wholly restored.