Slow living - One family's journey - Part 1
Foreword from Sir Gordon Bennett: On our own journey of creating a brand that promotes British craftsmanship and buying better we have met some wonderful people. People who have supported us through purchasing British goods from us. Those who have suggested brands we should begin to promote. And those that have simply been full of encouragement. The Murphy family have been all three.
Chris Murphy has been active on instagram documenting his family's move to a slower pace of life and the joys of not taking things for granted. The modern phrase is 'slow living'. And it got Sir Gordon thinking that maybe Chris and his family would like to document this transition, warts and all as a guest blogger on Gordon'sBUGLE.
Over the coming months, well, as long as Chris and his family can be bothered, they will let us follow their journey through words and pictures. Sir Gordon hasn't edited their words, nor pictures as we believe this should be their voice not ours.
They may inspire you to think deeper about the products that you let into your lives. Where they were made, what are they made from and who actually made them. Just becoming a smarter consumer can pay dividends in the long run. We hope you enjoy the blog, and if not you can blame Chris.
Jumping in Without a Plan
We didn’t plan. We could have listened to sound advice offered by nearly everyone. We had choices to make, succeeded in few... failed with most. We didn’t plan living in an old money-sapping house. A house in a tired, bitter and hardened area. A town lost in modern. It’s impressive industrial heritage forgot, hence worthless. Sensing a slowly changing and engaging culture and we want a part.
This Victorian townhouse with potential, just outside the town centre yet close to parks and woodland. Previously converted to flats and back to a home, our home, enduring some strange alterations, quirky, promising. It was a mess. Dank, damp, dark, disgusting, undesirable. It had a lot of original features still intact, the fireplaces, coving, staircases, box sash windows rotting away nicely. We decided to ‘live-in’ whilst renovating, which was another stupid idea, particularly dealing with dust and debris. To date we haven’t disposed of anything to landfill..woohoo! Look at us world savers! Not true. We are trying like nutters to reuse and repurpose aged materials into new build, we have occasionally failed. We want to say recycling centres have been our new hang-out, kids love it, better than cinema. Slight fable.
We had a plan to restore, to be honest with ourselves and our home. Keep it local, homemade, real, reclaimed? But that is expensive, and four years on just half-way through, drip feeding progression with a depleted budget. We wanted heritage. Heritage isn’t budget... timeless product and design certainly isn’t budget, but it is important.
A ‘fixer-upper’ we told everyone, a positive challenge they said. A project to eventually call home we whispered to ourselves. When the plumber failed to turn up for the eighteenth time, the mid-December installation of our heating system comprising of pretentious over-priced cast iron British made radiators... When the builders took up the kitchen Ruabon quarry tiles with a hydraulic breaker, leaving nearly all broken and chipped...When I thought the multiple hours carrying building materials up 27 steps to the front door would be good for fitness... When my young family shot-off for a few weeks to my parent in-laws in mid-France, leaving me to chip off a few ton of ashy grey lath and plaster. I had dust in bodily crevasses for weeks, not forgetting the red eyes, black bogeys and dust eyeliner... ‘WTF’er-upper’ more like!
Why is local expensive? You pay for what you get? Yeah... we all get that, and we’ve slipped into this tribal gathering of online heroes of similar ilk. The trap of thinking that you just consume quality instead of the ‘usual rubbish made in XYZ’, or the repeated latest ‘i-product’. The ‘edit’ the ‘collaboration’... we’ve all succumbed. You work hard, it’s up to you what you buy and show. Work, earn buy, buy more, consumed. We climbed out realising we were not using half the stuff we worked hard to purchase or gift. We brand identified...
‘Aaaah, yeah, great, OK, great, you recognise that brand, that brand is alright but... yeah anyway... Yeah, THIS brand was made by a pagan carpenter who retired at ninety , reinvented a silk substitute fabric he once patented, made mountain moccasins that keep you warm whilst weighing 200g’s.... they’re waterproofed using fermented daffodils carried from somewhere in Norfolk by reformed criminal volunteers and ‘Sirius’ a re-homed pit pony that is fed organic stuff and has a weight limit of like six kilograms or something on his back... yeah it’s fully traceable, and sooooo ‘me’ at the moment I cannot tell you what it is yet’...
A strange thing happens when paths twist with another wearing or using your unique brand, there’s part unity and appreciation and also deflation that your product has found another person. Like when overhearing someone sing your favourite song to themselves. Your discussion always turns into an expert review and you both regurgitate a number of other unique brands until one fails to recognise, then boom!.. you hit them with the orgasmic-organic story and traceability account that only you -on the whole planet - knows about because you bought it first in your village. It shouldn’t be this way.
Discovering British Made
We strongly believe that the lessons learned when you have less are most important. We’re talking lifestyle, product, use, longevity, quality. When you are really skint and under pressure you evaluate what you need, what you can do without (and sell on eBay), what you have obtained and realised is total crap. What works for you, what you keep... your tools, your identity. That pen, that kit bag, those jeans, those socks, string, knife, that guitar, those old scissors. Things that have a story, a heritage. An unmistakable and familiar design, a strength and character. Design you take for granted and marvel at from time to time.
We have learned, through cocking-up so many times, what works for us. We are still messing-up on a less frequent basis. We have rules. Buy quality, buy once. Research. Ask questions. Speak to that pretentious tribe. Speak to your parents, uncles, aunts, carpenters down the road, the artist in the park, the guy in the weird hat and ill fitting shorts whistling a Stiff Little Fingers chorus whilst fly-fishing (yep, he bragged about his vintage Filson field bag). The same answers tend to duplicate. Made in England, a Scottish company from yesteryear, a Welsh blanket my grandmother handed down, I think it’s an Irish linen. It’s no coincidence? British is bloody good!
Use what you own, test, push, work.
It turns out that a small, unique and considerate part of this world has realised how plastic crap everything has been for the last few decades, and that - with a bit of research and effort- there are things out there you can keep forever. Things that can be used often, repaired, passed on to your children. An assist, scratched, dented, gaining that patina, being part of a story, part of a journey. And a lot of these things are made right on your doorstep, by people who have been at it for years. People who put culture, pride and quality before profit. People who produce with love. Let’s not chase the awards, praise or badged accolades, but embrace this heritage, give it use, wear it out, try it on
We like uncomfortable, non-convenient. We appreciate to be patient, to slow, to sit back. We like things to work, to feel good, to gain ownership. And getting it wrong is OK. Being a bit of a hypocrite is inevitable. We will all measure and open ourselves for assessment when it comes to the products we use. We think it’s vitally important we bloody use them though, use them a lot... Everyday...
The Murphy Family
Discover British Made Goods
The Murphy's really do live what they believe and have been loyal customers of Sir Gordon Bennett over the last couple of years. In the photos that were taken by themselves are some products that they have purchased from Sir Gordon Bennett. They have not been gifts or bribes to document their journey to a more mindful lifestyle.
You can purchase some of the items in the photos by clicking the images below and start your conscious consumerism journey by buying British craftsmanship brands.