On Nouveau Peasantry & Elitist Simplicity!

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant

Peasant blouses, boho skirts and handmade, vegetable-dyed leather that one meets in every single catalogue and website is a trend I warm toward! (Largely because the look covers a multitude of sins, and apart from a very fortunate handful, makes everyone look ridiculously shapeless. It also fosters belief that a large segment of the world couldn’t-care-less about what they put on! Yes, my naiveté is charming, indeed!) :-)

Conversing about this and the incomprehensible prices of ‘heirloom grains’ with my in-the-know, whole-foods loving friends, I recently got called an aspiring ‘New Peasant’ and was pointed to the Harper’s Bazaar quiz to check if I really had ‘the symptoms’! (Well, I do live in Dorset and buy way more Goats cheese than anyone above a size 0 legimitately should! ;P) But, all jokes aside, I have to admit that there is a latent, softly-emerging “Nouveau Peasant” that’s come to the fore as my nesting instincts have been test driven these past few months! (If you are a first time visitor, can I gently point in you in this direction for a catch up?!)

 

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant
Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant

Like endless culturally and geographically displaced 30 + year olds, the appeal of a more meaningful existence removed from the abject capitalism of the 80’s and 90’s appeals to me. The idea of a quieter, more pro-active life filled with pursuits deemed “authentic”, “real” and “meaningful” holds a certain inescapable charm.  Possibly echoing an entire generation that I’m part of, I’ve felt like a hamster on the wheel and toyed with the idea of a country home with the smells of freshly baking bread, rain kissed gardens and the pleasures of home-made chutneys/ jams devoured gratefully with a few friends that matter etc. etc…and if that makes me a new peasant, I’d gladly don the title! (After all, who wouldn’t want a slice of this careless perfection, often captured in scores of lifestyle mags with cool muted photos on matte film, untouched by the taint of reality?!)

The only fly in the ointment here is that the closer I look at these suburban aspirations available in a profusion of “Indie” channels, the more obvious the elitism of this ‘simplicity’ is! Often, carefully concealed in these frugal, made-from-scratch lifestyles of homesteading dreams and rustic hand-thrown salads is a subtext of discrimination and division. One can’t but see through the rhetoric of the ‘jam-jar revolution’ to know that it’s as much about the haves and have-nots as is a full-fledged designer dinner put together by high-profile planners and caterers. Aspiring to this new-peasant, fern-rich-simplicity is sadly a very middle-class ethos!

 

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, tea, speciality, hipster

The more I think about this, the more I conclude that we’re drawn to the lure of a life of unmitigated good times for a reason; after all, no other generation stood the chance of seeing the advancements ours has, or felt more entitled to a better life! Our constant search for contentment is seen even in the mere reminiscence of a well baked croissant or a freshly brewed pot of your drink of choice! The story of our lives seems to have moved to the fine print and the magic lies solely in the details. The bigger picture is just too daunting to contemplate.

Life only seems to make sense when broken down into it’s rudimentary form of human connections. With this I agree….

What I find fault with is the story of people/collectives who project the lives you wish you could live, the cool elitism of their ‘artisan’ simplicity causing distinctions and exclusions in their thumbing their noses at anything mainstream. (Tut-tut anyone who uses regular plates or supermarket cutlery to photograph their authentic offerings!) A contradiction unambiguously jarring to the very premise of home-making and fellowshipping; connectedness and community! The fundamental backbone of a human collective, as it were!

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, bread

Interesting that this profusion of baking , the “real” food and the “real” living and all our “cultivated” and “curated” beauty occurs quite conspicuously among those fairly well placed on the social ladder (quite unlike generations that precceeded us with their dreams of capitalism and a resultant land of ‘milk and honey’).  Is it all evidence that we yearn for a better world and seek to create a microcosm of it in our own lives, despite the fact that we are not quite the ‘struggling’?!

Living as we do in a world that stamps out honest, wholesome principles of relationships ie: intimacy and connectedness and plays into the ample hands of fabricated creativity-the answer barely lies in a ‘choreography’ of meaningfulness. Recognising that living simple shouldn’t cost so much, connecting with loved ones shouldn’t need a £1000 camera and every social media at the ready, is probably a good place to start!

And please, for the love of life, let’s bring potato chips and cheese puffs back to the party –the people serving Quinoa on Nori mostly look miserable for a reason! ;P

 

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, chorizo, wine

 

If you liked this, you might also like:

Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!

and

Unfinished Business!

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

Unfinished Business!

unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living, travel, machu picchu

I suppose one naturally assumes that writing a blog post about your Unfinished Business at 37 is a sure sign of a healthy mind! ;p Well, if you think this is another bucket list where I very originally envisage swimming with dolphins followed closely by bungee jumping in Machu Picchu, this is where you should hit the exit key! I can’t swim and I’m rather given to caution when I hear that the risks of a fatal accident from bungee jumping are roughly 1 in 500,000. That statistic actually scares me…yeah, I’m a real gambler at heart- I buy into the odds that the 1 in 500,000 could be ME!

venice, unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living,  travel, machu picchu

I tread a bit sceptically when it comes to regarding most published bucket lists; for frankly, entries like “falling in love” (mentioned in an astounding 87% of lists) is hardly something that happens as a result of a carefully engineered plan! I once (as part of my job) attended a marketing seminar that spoke about concretely visualising your goals as being a way of making sure they happen. We all came away with a pack of large, brightly coloured Post-it’s, (no points for guessing who one of the big sponsors were ;)) and for a long time, I stuck post-it’s everywhere, about everything (including telling myself that I’m gorgeous-drop dead gorgeous!)…And you know what? They actually did the job (bet the drop dead gorgeous one is still somewhere within reach–work in progress, that! ) But, apparently, writing down a goal gives you a 30% increased chance of achieving the target because a thought is not recognised as a call to action by your subconscious mind as is print, therefore the motivation you have toward that task is maximised by putting it in writing! Very compelling reasons for making lists – I know!

I often think of the industries that have come into existence to cater to the sole need of awkward, yet highly individualistic behaviour that needs to do things that veer away from the ‘sameyness’ of everyone’s life! Frankly, I find that very debatable when a sizeable population also wants to be a part of the ‘same’ , virtually identical, acquisitive lifestyle! Of course, the fuel that keeps the embers glowing is an attempt to surpass yourself – the acceptable face of competition! To go up higher, to win bigger, to attempt to answer the call for meaning and structure and silence the ancient questioning within.  And in our quest to complete this perfect picture of our victory-rich lives, we exist as a generation of urban ‘individualists’ bounding (at a skydiving pace, nonetheless) towards a collective end– alone!

venice, unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living,  travel, machu picchu
Exotic tea parlour!

Well, having just rubbished what at least a couple of million people take quite seriously, let me tell you what my unfinished business is about – and it’s not wanting to change the world- I gave up on that in my 20’s! I now just attempt to change the 6 square- feet of earth that I call mine, and hope that the ripple effect from there exponentially gives me street cred in the ‘change the world’ business!

I want to stop being a city girl, and by that I mean ‘cerebral’, I grew up in a small nuclear family with “Mattel” being the one of the most important words in my vocabulary, in a city that does not sleep! I know the names of a few flowers, recognize three trees to be precise and constantly feel like an outsider in nature. I want to feel a ccommunion – (no, I’m not in need of skirts made of hay and tie ‘n die kaftans despite loving Janis Joplin and most things Woodstock!)

I want to romance food – I’ve always had an unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve either feared food or I’ve craved it…I’ve never approached it as a friend who’ll nurture me and whose embrace I can accept with no strings attached! I think our culture’s taken that from us and the slew of magazines that celebrate food, even just bread in it’s rudimentary form is evidence of the fact that we’ve lost a deep connection with sustenance – of the most basic kind!

 

murano, burano, lace, venetian masks, venice, unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living,  travel, machu picchu

I want to raise compassionate, self-assured, spirited daughters who will not make mistakes that cost them their whole life to put right! I want them to know the value of asking for things politely and stopping to say thank you. Entitled, thankless people are the scourge of our times! I want them to have the strength to get up every time life knocks them down and say “Right, where were we again?!” and I hope that they’ll make good partners and good mums, and be loved enough by their families to be forgiven the mistakes they’ll make…

I want to know – and not just bookishly, that pine cones react differently to different temperatures and times of day; and that there are ways of living happily without a blow dryer or straighteners and an internet connection that allows me to upload a 10mb file in under five minutes! With every apocolyptic, dystopic film I watch, I realise how ill-suited most of us are to “living off the land”. I want to be able to grow my own anything really- coriander will do! And I want to grow my children up with a deeper connection to the earth than I will ever, naturally have!

venice, unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living,  travel, machu picchu

You know how all of us have events, people – choices that we made that served no purpose other than prove to us that we are totally capable of making ut-ter-ly rubbish decisions; (yeah, those)..I wish that someday I can truly lay the memory of them to rest! To be at peace with it without oscillating between the regret or the indifference…

I bet that some clever PR person somewhere thought that it might be nice to create some hype about people swimming with dolphins, and laughed his way to the bank just as filmmakers did with travel chick flicks…but naiively, I do yearn to be lost within a different culture- for a long enough time to not have to choose between identities.  And yes, I know that culturally and politically, there is no real way that will ever happen to me- but seriously, neither will watching a lunar eclipse while mattress-surfing happen to the poor bucket-lister who wishes it upon himself! The more I read, hear and discuss people’s plans as they course through life with carefully ‘curated’ lists; I wonder if maybe it is important that we live our lives in a quest for ‘organic’ meaning and ‘granular’ experience – but equally important too, is to realise that some “dreams” are intended to remain just that…dreams!

What do you dream about doing? Tell me, I’m listening … x

You might also enjoy reading :

“Arrivederci Roma!” – A Photo-essay.

Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

*The pics used in this post were taken by me in Venice, Murano and Burano and used in an essay titled “The portrait of ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns!'”  long before the birth of The Intrepid Misadventurer x

Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!

camelia, flowers, nature, meaningful living, kinfolk,

As we move at a steady pace towards the season of linen, Birkenstocks and Cherry-Mint fizz pops, has anyone also noticed that Mad Men-style floral frocks with belted waists from the late 1950’s, Tulip skirts, polka-dots and the ubiquitous ‘ditsy prints’ are well, everywhere?! Pvc bags, farm-friendly prints on heavy ceramic mixing bowls and porcelain flour shakers which have been the bedrock of corporate success finally seem here to stay! Accompanying it is the very unfortunate return of Pinball! :) (I must coyly admit that I own a fair few retro-chic embellishments that are now relegated to shelves populated with other kitsch that once caught my whim -I have an increasing stash of hot-water bottles, tea-towels, bold patterned bags and neon yellow ’70’s cloggs!)

I’ve been thinking recently about the rising appeal of vintage, the return of preoccupations last popular in the ’50’s and ’60’s. Homeware and fashion might be the flagbearers of the movement but technology hasn’t been spared either! (The word from within Volkswagen on it’s latest release of the iconic camper is that the design will be extravagantly sixties-inspired.) Despite countless mobile phone apps offering retro filters, there’s a resurgence of film – Polaroid is back with the Impossible Project, and new instant film to boot! Who remembers hurray’ing at the arrival of digital point and shoot?? I did as a teenager – no more wasted film or bad photos that cost a pretty penny! But with my recent interest in film photography, life in some small sense seems to have come full circle for me!

grown your own, homegrown, nutrition, health, retro, old world
Grow your own – our new mantra!

Have any of us stopped to think why? As a mum, I find an increasing need to instill old-world values in my children. Strong work ethics, balanced view of technology-based entertainment, the vital habits of eating good, nutritious food. Waste less, respect your enviroment and the social ecology within which you function is a daily lesson; the irreplaceable role of family is never to be played down, something that resonates very deeply with me having lost mine as a teenager! I realise that I’m not alone in this, though I may approach certain ‘homeward bound’ trends a bit more vociferously than most of my more balanced peers ! :p What is this cult of neo-sobriety that we hanker after? The need that propells us from within to simplify, pare down, return to some form of well-being and control that we assume our forebearers had? Our need to ebb capitalism’s fast and slippery spiral!

Retro gardenware, aluminium, shabby chic garden ornaments, vinatge, antinque
Retro gardenware!

My husband and I often get into discussions like this (because he’s the steady rock to my otherwise floundering imagination) over a cup of freshly-brewed coffee in the evenings, no – not on a reclaimed wooden table – well not yet anyway! :) Is it the lasting impact of a recession that won’t turn it’s back on us? I see so many of us, either through need or hobby turn to DIY thrift projects, from-scratch recipes and homemade gifts. With getting on the property ladder increasingly becoming a dream, more millenial children continue to stay home rather than leave the nest- has there been a considerable rethink about closer commitment to family and friends as a result? I often question if we’ve all ended up ‘connected loners’ – wandering along the hillsides eating homemade granola… by-products of a world that curates the best of our lives as milestones against which not just others, but we judge ourselves too!

 

vintage tools, artisan, retro, shabby chic, kinfolk , garden, home ware
Artisan vintage tools!

My family is a bog-standard example of social dislocation…we move every few years and start life afresh. In many ways, it’s an unending cycle of new beginnings and there’s a certain comfort in that apart from the big challenge of ‘change’ itself! We don’t see family for years, we make new friends, we fit ourselves into the fabric of their more established lives about as much as they become part of our wandering chronicles! As the world shrinks, our need to connect with other human beings deepens, despite or probably as a result of  having designed a ecosphere of digitized, insulated living.

 

shabby chic, garden ornaments, pots, basins, urban decay
Shabby chic garden basins.

A friend who lives in New York recently invited me to a “Kinfolk” gathering, Kinfolk’s a lifestyle magazine that encourages living simply with “articulated, intentional hospitality!” They seemed to recognize that the art of hospitality was becoming more of a performance and less of a meaningful time spent amongst friends. Well, it got me looking at the magazine, and whilst I must admit, their visual aesthetic got me totally hooked; I just realised I didn’t have the right ratio of hemp skirts to strappy sandals to truly be “Kinfolk”! And only knew the one way to make Quinoa, (apparently there are about 16 ‘simple’ ways, and I suppose countless complex ones!) It’s just that little bit too ‘intentional’, too many well arranged twigs, well orchestrated moss and the severe disability to respect the invention of the humble tumbler…Mason jars have their place, I swear by mine, but enough already! :) The Kinfolk lifestyle apparently attracts a few million each year – each endeavouring to live better, more meaningfully. Well, if trends are inevitable, this is a more benign one!

woodland, shabby chic, nature, urban decay
Woodland.

I’ve only just begun watching Dowton Abbey, talk about being late to the best British party in years! A lot of my friends who watched it said that the most alluring bit about it or any period drama is a sense of ritual and tradition! There was a well established order to the day and a “right way to eat dinner”! How many of us have risen with arms against eating dinner in front of the tele?! Perish the thought!! ( unless, it’s Eurovision and you submit to the obsessive compulsiveness to be part of something that’s nothing short of a variety- gimmick-carousel!)

Whatever the reason we look back warmly on tarnished spoons, or reclaimed canoes – it’s heartening to see the focus return to the family unit..(I use ‘family’ loosely!)  There is an unfathomable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, sounds… and to seek to walk away from that ‘humanness’ is probably our deepest naiivete! If ‘Vintage’ and ‘Retro’ remind us of our connectedness to the past and present, may it reign!

Well,  I’ll leave you here while I return to my drafting board and meal plan for the coming week, and do a sneaky Google to see if somewhere out there is a store that’s reduced prices on my Danish washing-up bowl! It would end in divorce if I indulged myself – the fact that it’s made of flexible rubber, can be used multi-functionally (storing books, art supplies) and most importantly –  safely goes in the dishwasher fails to impress my husband! Blokes…they know nothing about finding your way “home”! x

violets, blue, flowers, nature, beauty, kinfolk
Violets

 

If you like the writing and photographs you see on this blog, could you please *nominate* me for the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards? I’ve been shortlisted in categories 1 and 8! :) Many thanks!! xx

You might also like to look through:

“Arrivederci Roma!” – A Photo-essay.

Introverts-Powered by a Different Fuel!

Live Smart- Your Planet’s Worth it!

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This post can also be seen here:

Romanian Mum
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