LIVING WITHOUT A CAR……

In 1993, when I returned home to the UK after living in the USA for twenty eight years – I decided to stop driving for good.

I don’t like fragmentation in my life. I find it interferes with my thinking process and consequently my creativity. It’s all that stopping and starting…..

Those following my blog will note that I have travelled extensively, but it was always to a destination where I could remove myself from the madding crowd. A place where a car was not necessary to function.

Overlooking the Usk Valley in Wales where the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains meet. watercolour/gouache

In 1993 I moved to Crickhowell in Wales – a small market town in the Usk Valley – a place where I could walk to the butcher, baker and candle stick maker as well as pubs and coffee shops. The magnificent surrounding countryside along with the local people gave me all the inspiration I could ever wish for. As soon as I was introduced to the place by my cousin I knew that it would work for me. It was a place where I would not need a car.

The high street in Crickhowell –

Along with many other shortages currently in the UK there is a petrol shortage. I wont go into the politics and reasons behind this, but rather what it brings to the forefront.

As people fight on the forecourts of petrol stations and others fill any container they can find…it is clear that for most people the concept of not driving isn’t even part of the equation. It has also pointed out how much better off people are who have electric cars.

Back to sanity.

A sketch of the Crickhowell Bridge and behind it St Edmund’s Church which sits in the heart of the town. watercolour and Tombow Pen.

I lived and worked in Crickhowell for twelve years. When I needed a car to get to the train station at Abergavenny I simply called a taxi. Extremely convenient and far less expensive than keeping a car on the roads.

One of the many watercolour portraits I painted of the local people. After living with my cousin and family for six months, I rented my first small flat on the High Street from Anne Trott. Over the years I painted her several times including a large oil on canvas.

Anne Trott – Crickhowell

What I have learned over the years is that society doesn’t make it easy for people to live without a car. Public transportation in some areas is superb….but in many areas it is not good. As an environmentalist I have been banging on about this for years. To get people out of their cars we need to change our whole way of living.

My second home in Crickhowell – the cottage at number 11 Mill Street. A very special place. I was able to walk from the cottage to all the shops and everything else. All my needs were met and I had no car.

There have been times, including this past weekend when I have been driven by a friend. I fully appreciate this, but it is always a reminder to me that cars are not my favourite form of getting around. I prefer public transportation and my walking legs……

Walking in the beautiful Usk Valley – watercolour/gouache

The effect on my body and mind of living without a car in a place where all my needs could be met was extraordinary. I was at peace….and very fit. The priorities of life were made clear.

Consequently, my days were not fragmented…but rather there was a gentle rhythm to them.

A photograph from this past weekend from one of my favourite painting places. Curlews is owned by good friends, and for me it is always a good place to get away from the madding crowd and to be reminded of just how beautiful our world is.

Curlews is just outside of Crickhowell way up high overlooking the Usk Valley – looking up towards Brecon.

On the way up to Curlews we passed John’s house whose portrait I painted a few weeks ago. John Addis is very well known in Crickhowell and his family go back a long way. He has produced some beautiful books with old photographs of the area…

and then a little further up we passed Gwynn’s house. I painted this watercolour sketch about 20 years ago.

.

I have painted/sketched so many of the people of Crickhowell….As I said earlier, along with the magnificent landscape and people there is a constant source of inspiration. All without a car………

Like the rest of the world, even a place like Crickhowell and the Brecon Beacons is changing. There is a lot more traffic about than when I first went there in 1993. Thank goodness it is part of the Brecon Beacon National Park which does give some protection.

And hopefully we are all recognising that we do need to change our ways. That there is only so much space…and with mental illness growing in leaps and bounds we need to look at a more rhythmic and gentle life….in my opinion one away from cars.

I fully appreciate that for many living without a car is nigh impossible….but we can at least begin to look at different ways of living and being.

I no longer live in Crickhowell but I do live in a place where again I can walk to the butcher baker and candlestick maker……I have no car.:)

Enjoy a lovely weekend.

32 thoughts on “LIVING WITHOUT A CAR……

  1. Joe McDonald

    Wow, the colors, sketches and paintings along with the storyline tied in beautifully truly amazing 😻 I’m laying in bed having a cup of coffee thinking could I seriously stop driving my BMW in Chadds Ford Pa!? Haha no in reality but soon going to an electric Tesla! You my dear friend on the other side of the pond entertain my thoughts! Love ❤️ and hugs! Joe

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Joe…lovely to hear from you…when in fact I was just thinking about you. I lived in Chadds Ford long before it got so built up…and so probably it would be safe to say that you do need a car….and I would also venture to say that the States needs more good public transportation. Whatever the case we do need to change our ways. Hope all is well I your life and that you are happy. Janet :)X

      Reply
  2. Don't Lose Hope

    When I lived in London and the south east, it was possible to get around without a car (but still limiting if you wanted to somewhere that was off the beaten track.) Living in Alberta, Canada, it is very difficult indeed. Almost impossible.
    Thanks for including so much of your artwork in this post. I absolutely LOVE looking at your paintings.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for the comment. You are so right that even in this tiny country of England, it is still difficult to get to places off the beaten track. This is where public transportation is key. As for Canada, a plan I love, you do need a car. Janet 🙂

      Reply
  3. Timothy Price

    Far from the madding crowd. That’s wonderful you don’t have a car. A car and the insurance are such wastes of money if you don’t have to have them. I live in a part of the world that is impossible to live without a car if you are to even get by, let alone prosper. For many years we had one car. I either rode my bike or we were able to ride together. These days we need two cars. The years we livid in Madrid, Spain we did not have a car. When we needed a car, we rented one.

    Beautiful paintings and the photos of your village and the countryside are wonderful. I’m of Welsh decent. Lizzie, who blogs from Wales, posts the most beautiful photos of the countryside.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Timothy for this comment. You have experienced both sides of the coin and so know the pros and cons of living without a car….As you say where you live now it would be nigh impossible to be without one.
      I am also of Welsh decent and love the country and its people very much. I am fortunate to be close enough to be able to visit easily and am hoping to give some workshops there soon. Enjoy your day and I will definitely check out Lizzie’s blog. Janet 🙂

      Reply
  4. Jacqui Murray

    My spirit is with you. Living in California, that is impossible but I really don’t drive much. My dream would be the types of towns you talk about. Love your artistry.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much for this comment. I do know California and how difficult it would be to live without a car….but maybe one day the world will wake up and go back to a more simple way of being and living. 🙂

      Reply
  5. memadtwo

    I myself have never owned a car, but of course I’ve lived all my adult life in the city. But my grandparents lived in an Ohio town and got around by walking or bus only 60 years ago. It would not be impossible to eliminate the need for one for most people most of the time. And it would vastly improve our lives.
    And wonderful paintings, as always. (K)

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you K. It is interesting that living in a city does illuminate the need for a car….and our parents and grandparents walked everywhere…and for that matter when I was growing up so did I. It was just the way we lived. Stay well my friend. XX

      Reply
  6. VJ Knutson

    Should I, shouldn’t I? The car debate has been rattling around in my head. I gave up mine years back when illness dictated no driving, but recently, with enough recovery to drive, I’m pondering the issue. If I could walk any distance it would be a no brainer. Lovely images as always.

    Reply
  7. Margy

    When we lived SW of London I could walk to the High Street and take a train every where else – but husband had to use a car to get to work every day. There was no direct way to get there. Same for all the historic places we wanted to visit – a car was the only way to see everything!
    Now we are retired and back in Canada – we live in the country, far from the crowds of the city. We still need a car because of both the distance and the climate!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      So you lived in my neck of the woods – SW London. I am now based in Hampton – close to Teddington etc. but because I live and work in my studio and can walk to everything it is very good. However, I wouldn’t want to drive In this area as the traffic can be awful! Where you are now in beautiful Canada – and in the country – and away from the madding crowd – getting in a car is not a hardship:). Thank you for your comment. Janet

      Reply
      1. Margy

        We were in Kingswood, husband worked in Leatherhead. (Kingswood did not have much in the way of shops, so we would drive to Banstead.) After that we lived in Doha, Qatar (no public transport there.) Now we are back home in Alberta, Canada on a 4 acre piece of property. So glad my husband is a ‘car guy’ and likes to drive!

  8. tiffanyarpdaleo

    Most of California is not designed to live without a car, yet we have the most expensive petrol. Electric cars are popular though, still have some drawbacks. I wish I never had to leave my art studio, I would be happy to never drive again!

    Reply
  9. Emma Cownie

    I always enjoyed being able to walk to the local shops in Swansea, but it’s just not possible here. I really enjoy the views of the sea as I drive into our local town in Dungloe.

    Reply
      1. Emma Cownie

        Usually there is very little in the way of traffic jams but were are cursed with a rash of traffic lights which seem to go on for ages where they are relaying/rebuilding parts of the road.

  10. Content Catnip

    I loved this post Janet and how not having a car enriched your life with mental and physical health. It’s the magical thing of noticing surroundings and nature that I love about not driving. I’m a non driver as well. I can drive but I choose not to because it’s too expensive to own a car and also it’s stressful to drive, there’s a lot of crazy people on the road, overall it just doesn’t seem worth it. My partner and I hire a car whenever we need but it’s so great not having that additional cost. Agree about the world being geared towards drivers and I hope that one day it will be geared instead to walking paths and nature…I will keep fighting for that!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for this fantastic comment. You are so right to say driving is both expensive and oh so. stressful and yes sadly there are a lot of crazy people on the roads today…..probably made crazier by the very act of driving!:)
      Yes, let’s keep moving towards living in a more natural and harmonised world. A world where people can enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty from walking or the luxury of good public transportation:) I am with you all the way…..

      Reply
  11. snowbird

    What a wonderful post. I couldn’t agree more re decent transport systems across the country. I’m not a fan of driving and have barely used my car during this pandemic, hubs and I clearly can get by with one car if he continues to work from home. We do need to get some of the traffic off our roads. Wonderful paintings and photos, I did enjoy them, especially the bridge. Love and hugs.xxxx

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you dear Dina….you are so right to say that we need to get traffic off the road…..Living in the south east…it’s so clear to see. I can’t imagine how people manage to stay sane driving here. Enjoy a lovely autumn weekend. Janet xxxx

      Reply
  12. tidalscribe.com

    I am happy not to be a driver and walk and bus. Covid and medical dramas tend to play havoc with this lifestyle. Drive through Covid testing! Don’t use public transport warnings. Isolating at home with deliveries and friends and family offering lifts from operations…. It would be good if we all went private vehicle free but alas I can’t see it happening!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for this comment. It points out how much really good public transportation is needed everywhere….although as you say we do have to be careful – wearing our masks etc. My studio/ is on the third floor of three story building with steps on the outside. Thank goodness I was able to sign up with Ocado at the beginning of lock down which means that since then all heavy groceries have been delivered to my door. I am also fortunate to have a small market within easy walking distance to purchase fresh fruit and veg…. It’s a been a life saver – and oh yes all my art supplies are delivered to me and there was no problem at all though lock down. I am fortunate.

      Reply
      1. tidalscribe.com

        Yes we intentionally bought a place near local shops and bus stops and the local high street has got even better with lots of small businesses. Local Co Op does small deliveries on motor scooter and you are never quite sure if you will get what you order, but it is fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.