No smartphones, no internet, no email and seven pairs of wellies.
Once upon a time we actually had to queue at a supermarket (no self check-out), risked TB daily by ringing from a payphone (no mobile phones), had to use encyclopedias and libraries (no readily accessible internet) and even had to wait while our ham salad sandwich was prepared at lunchtime (no Pret). Although this world might sound prehistoric, it was actually only 18 years ago. Our lives today – so over-reliant on technology, speed and convenience – are almost unrecognisable. But are they actually any better?
It was this question that provided the catalyst for Stylist’s Simple Life issue. We wanted to challenge our dependence on the electronic age by uprooting the team to simpler surroundings, implementing a total technology blackout for 72 hours and learning to enjoy life without 24-hour access to everything.
Above: Launceston farm: our home in the country
So one Sunday at 7am, seven members of team Stylist travelled from London to the charming Launceston Farm bed and breakfast run by Sarah and her son Jimi in Dorset (not as easy as it sounds without sat nav). A working organic beef farm, with six bedrooms and two self-catering cottages set in 800 acres of green fields with an on-site vegetable garden. Beautiful, yes, but would we all go mad without access to Twitter? Would junior writer Lizzie be able to cope without knowing the result of Andy Murray’s final at Wimbledon? And would it make us switch off, and – shock horror – make conversation without looking at our phones?
The six golden rules we lived by for our three days in the countryside:
No mobile phones, tablets, Kindles, TV, DVD or other electronic equipment
No access to Internet or email
No sat navs, GPS devices or any other forms of electronic navigation equipment
No credit or debit cards – cash only
Only eat food we can pick or kill ourselves or source from independent retailers within a 15-mile radius
No contact with the Stylist office. At all.