No 21 A Council House Cottage Industry....In the beginning....

Good Morning,  welcome to 2018 and Tasha's and my new project, No21 A Council House Cottage Industry. But what is the project and what has bought us here?

After much deliberation and soul searching during the later part of 2017 I decided to leave CHALK the Community Interest Company that I formed with some friends. The main and deciding factor was emotional exhaustion but also described by someone who had heard me moaning as Compassion Fatigue. The work that I did put me in the path of incredibly sad stories on a daily basis and I had reached overload. Tied up with this exhaustion was menopause that had decided to visit me, in what I feel is a premature and aggressive manner.  I lost my passion for caring for others and took to counselling where I was educated on my need to care more for myself. This "looking after no 1" concept was, I felt, quite distasteful and indulgent, but steered by a wise confidant and the love of my partner in "grime", I became attuned to the new horizons that self love may bring.

But, a bit more background. This eureka of enlightenment did not just arrive and settle on our shoulders. It was a rocky road of self flagellation, mental health illness, suicide attempts, overindulgence in alcohol, food and many other deadly sins and extreme childhood trauma. Which was luckily unpicked by love, friendship, healthcare professionals and the life saving Priory Clinic.

So No 21,  as a brand,  will essentially be the culmination of the success of "finding oneselves", finding each other and the final chapter of the repair,  of a life of chaos. A Council House Cottage Industry is how we intend to achieve this. Why name it A Council House Cottage Industry? Well, we live in social housing. If looking for a quintessentially making "The Good Life" blog or homesteading for our American friends, one is expecting to discover persons who reside in a rural idyll. Who have sold everything back in the city and traded it all in, in exchange for rigorous budgeting to eek out their savings whilst establishing themselves within their new found community as wholesome but determined entrepreneurs. Maybe,  they will have their "city ways", but a touch of hard graft and investment in good machinery will see them right. Wrapped up with a generous amount of entry into established organic marketplaces. This may seem a tad cynical but through our market research on blogs and vlogs already out here, that does seem where the trend lies. What we hope to impart is that there is a lower, do-able starting point. No capital investment, nothing to sell, no rolling acreage, no savings, no safety net....that is unless you count the government supplied safety net of our benefit system. I like to be controversial and I may be accused in the future of stretching the boundaries of assistance in setting up our new lifestyle, but I would like to think that my plans are ethical and I hope in the future the "system" will see it as an investment and legal. Our starting place is luckily a rural idyll in Shropshire. Just a mile from the Welsh border with views of the peaks overlooking Llangollen to the east and the flat sandstone Shropshire plains to the west. Our 2 bedroom council house was given to me due to a bundling Don Foster's, Tory MP and Minister for
Housing's,  taxation of the poor. For once I can truly say that a Tory policy worked in my favour. Having been living previously with 2 children in a three bedroom maisonette on an estate in Shropshire's own version of The Bronx, the newly fledged teens abandoned the nest leaving mummy with 2 spare bedrooms and a local council desperate to rehome me in more suitable accommodation befitting the new housing laws. And how well they did by me...not only did I manage to escape The Bronx but I was given a house with 180ft garden overlooking fields, canal, a dairy farm and a church that practises campanology every Tuesday at 7pm in a village I had spent part of my childhood making dens in hedgerows and innocently skinny dipping "down at the river".


How did I qualify for this little slice of English countryside,  I hear you ask? 20 other suitable candidates turned it down due to its lack of a driveway! Today No 21 is a waterlogged, muddy patch of a building site. See the images I do not exaggerate. We did sell a car on Ebay which allowed us to purchase the materials for our outdoor kitchen and re-decorate most of the house in anticipation of Air BnB profit, but our only income today is the benefits system. We intend to expose all of our income and outgoings to show, we hope, that it is possible to move from economically stagnant and subsidised to economically viable and sustainable and self-sufficient.

We would like to invite you on our journey and into our future as we showcase our home and self improvement as the therapeutic tool to a new way of ethical, compassionate living and share with you the adventure of trying to build an income through this new lifestyle. Along the way we wish not only for you to share our experiences and education but also to bring about debate on many social, political and economic issues (and most likely IT as we are both luddites, so please be tolerant).

Our primary goal is to create organic produce. Whether this is by fruit and veg grown both at home and in our brand new shiny allotment. Americans, again, you will call this homesteading...but without livestock. The exception being our adopted hens which we found through a group called The British Hen Welfare who rescue hens that have being in the egg industry, usually under diabolical conditions but we will have plenty of time later to discuss ethics. So please, join us for the ride.

hen house
Secondly through a room to let with AirBnB and thirdly, if we ever manage to unravel the technology, through blogging, vlogging and other social media mysteries we endeavour to discover.

 I am Liz, my background is Horticulture, Education and Social Services and my passion is creating stuff out of tat. I am a Womble by nature (for those that have no reference for the Wombles of Wimbledon), a helper, a lover of community, a hater of social injustice, a country bumpkin and a Lefty Do Gooder,  (An insult that I decided to own and promote) a constant worrier of my short comings, a perpetual trier of dieting, vegetarianism, veganism and juicing who constantly falls off the wagon. I have had businesses in the furniture and antiques industry and also had a pub. I was constantly angry that people came into my home, drank MY booze, made a mess, made a noise, left me to clean it up and then came back the following day to do it all over again. (I was not a successful publican) But essentially I hope to treat others as I wish to be treated. Tasha is my partner in "grime", her background is Dairy Farming but essentially a city girl born and bred in Stoke-on-Trent.  A spiritual person, who describes herself as being conscious of Mother Earth but who is also a drinker, fighter and lover with an amazing capacity for empathy and compassion and whom loves a conspiracy theory to research. Of Jamaican and British heritage she is deep and soulful, a thinker and a doer, who has been bruised by life but "who can fall in a canal and come out with a tin of salmon"! She is my Witch Doctor and Voodoo Queen, forever concocting potions for health and wellbeing. She is shy but sometimes loud.  Together we are foodies, and we want to share our love of cooking good nurturing food, in the future provided from what we aim to produce. We are quietly and steadfastly supportive of the LGBT movement and welcome discussion from people who may feel discomfort with our lifestyle, we hope that by exposing ourselves myths can be debunked and fear overcome. We have both been a bit bruised and battered during our 40+ years on this experience we call life, but are on the mend and solid in our expectations that the next 40 years will be of our making.

So what will you get from following our blogs and soon to be vlogs?
  • Most definitely an interactive part in our development as a Cottage Industry. We will be asking for advice and taking it.
  • Depending on your desire for involvement,  part of the creation of a new community. My work was my community and having left that behind I need a new one. What does a community consist of? What is your community and where do you fit?
  • A forum where you can openly air your views on the ethics and morality of the discussion topics we will bring to the table.
  • An education. Whether it is from our failures or our successes we will bare all in the desire that sharing information in this era of information overload, there will be something that touches and speaks to you.
  • Access to other cottage industries through interviews and guest blogging.
  • Friendship. We are willing to test out this relatively new concept of on-line friendship, where people never meet but through shared interests and a desire to connect with like minded people. Our new life will necessitate that we are more face to face isolated than ever before. Can on-line friendships satiate the desire to bond with our fellow wo/man?

At our next installation we will give you the tour of the land, share our plans in more depth. Discuss the budget, who's paying for it and how and also join us in celebrating Veganuary. If you want to literally join us login here for help and advice If you are really serious and lacking a New Years resolution a great starting place is the documentary What the Health. On Netflix but I am sure if you don't have access it is easily found.


  1. Stupendous. I'm really looking forward to reading further as you post more.

    1. Thank you Mike and I look forward to your views.

  2. Bloody love it... What a smashing start. You are so good at the written word. Can't wait for the next installment my friend x loves ya both x

    1. Thank you Kath for taking the time to read xxx

  3. A great start, looking forward to reading more-what's a Don Foster?

    1. Don Foster was the Conservative Minister for Housing who implemented the Bedroom Tax. Basically for persons living in social housing with a spare bedroom, they have to pay for the pleasure of having it. Unless you are of pensionable age. If someone claims Housing Benefit this means their benefit is cut by 14% for 1 spare bedroom and 25% for 2. So if a rent is £100 the benefit payment would only cover £86 if you have 1 bed and £75 if you have 2 beds spare with the tenant having to pay the shortfall. In theory a wonderful way of releasing Social Housing that is underused. But the reality has many abject impacts. A couple of the negative impacts are...established communities get torn apart, people in the lowest income bracket are put under even more financial strain. Example, a single person on Job Seekers are entitled to £50.25 per week to live on. If they live in a 2 bedroom flat and their rent is £100 per Week out of that £52.25 they have to contribute £14 towards their rent, before food, household bills etc. So move I heard the right wing say....moving house is a costly business, the social housing waiting list for 1 bedroom accommodation is vast with more demand than availability. For an example of the reality in our rural area. A couple died last year whilst squatting in a derelict house of carbon monoxide poisoning whilst trying to keep themselves warm with a generator. They were made homeless due to having a 3 bedroom flat and only eligible for a 1 bed. They run up debts of over £1000 in owed rent with no means to pay it off. Do feel free to add your opinions on this subject.

  4. Hi Liz, very interesting, and a great writing style. Is it your intention to eventually move from benefit support, or will you always need that safety net?

    1. Hi Journeyman and thank you for reading and commenting. I will add in more detail on a few up and coming post how I aim to achieve but but I have given us till April 2020 to be earning the minimum of what we will be receiving from Benefits this includes not only the cash element but the Housing and Council Tax as well. In my next post I go into a little more detail about the projected Benefits income and am in the process of writing a part 2 which will cover projected outgoings. I will then build over the next few weeks on how over 2.4 years we aim to get their. Hope that helps. The time scale is based on when Tasha Benefit will be re-assessed. Do ask any more questions you would like answering as I am sure there are others out their wondering too. xxx


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