In 1993, when I returned 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.

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.

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 which was exhibited in an exhibition in Brittany France in 1995.

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 places 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 the way we think and live.

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 walking.

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 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…

I have painted and sketched so many people from Crickhowell….As I said earlier, along with the magnificent landscape 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 with less focus on cars.

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

Enjoy a lovely weekend.

49 thoughts on “LIVING WITHOUT A CAR……

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I like that….you need to find a village in the mountains where you can find that butcher, baker and candlestick maker. Such places do exist:). Where I lived in Wales would fit the bill for you. X

  1. ShiraDest

    Here in the US, it is nearly impossible to live without a car, and I also got much criticism when I got rid of my car, from friends who seemed to feel ashamed that they now had a carless friend. Cities like New York are far too expensive, so I try to focus on finding places in walking distance to the grocery story and a library, when possible, but it is not easy.

    Thank you for your work on the other side of the pond.
    Warm Regards,

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Shira…and having lived and worked in the States for 28 years I know how difficult it is to live there without a car. When I returned to the UK in 1993 my American friends didn’t believe me when I said I was going to stop driving…..Thirty years later, they believe me:). Janet X

  2. JMR-ART

    It is pretty good here too, had a car a few years, need it for work, but most of my ‘working’ life, I could manage to use transit or walk..I use to be a much better walker, long ride coming back from work on foot, good thing to be able to live without them cars, although I do have some cars …. in my VR helmet…:)

  3. Writing to Freedom

    Kudos on living a simple, value-based lifestyle Janet. Living carless is very satisfying and very hard in most places, especially the spread-out suburbs in the US. No doubt more of us need to live simpler, more sustainable lives in order for us and the planet to thrive.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Brad….and yes it is much more difficult to live this way in the states where everything was designed around cars. Having said that – we will have to find ways to change if we are to survive…..and thrive. X

  4. Hope found in M.E.

    When I lived in Asia we had no car. We used public transport, boats, trains, trams, buses or walked. Much of it designed by British engineers. When we returned to the UK I found the driving exhausting, needing to park etc. So much could be improved with public transport in this country. One day.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for this comment. You have touched on something that I believe is very real….and that is just how exhausting it is to drive in today’s world. Stopping and starting….and yes finding the all illusive parking places:).

  5. memadtwo

    I have never owned a car. But of course NYC has fairly good public transportation. But my grandparents lived in a medium sized town in Ohio and they did not have or need a car when they got older–the buses went all over the city if they needed to get somewhere they could not walk to. This was in the 1950s and 60s. A lot has changed since then, and it’s all been towards individuals with cars rather than transportation to serve the community. Our family had once car, shared by all. Now everyone has their own car. I don’t know how we return to a saner and more environmentally friendly world now.

    And beautiful art, as always!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much for this K…..wonderful to hear of yours and your families experience and yes unless things change dramatically, and they might, I can’t see how we can return to a saner and more environmentally friendly world. Having said that….none of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out……..:)

  6. Carol Balawyder

    It is obvious that not having a car has inspired your paintings, Janet. . You were lucky to live in such pretty places where you were able to walk to the shops. ❤

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      You are right, but I chose to live in places where I could walk to everything….and I continue to make those choices. I do think it’s easier in Europe/UK to live like this…we don’t have the vast distances that you have in Canada or people in the States have. In the UK…a village/pub is always within walking distance:) XX

  7. Emma Cownie

    I am glad that you can walk to all the important places you need to go – Crickhowell is such a lovely place. I didnt realise that people were fighting over petrol in the UK!

  8. Don't Lose Hope

    You live in such a beautiful place. It reminds me of my childhood in Scotland. My Gran lived in a little village like this and we walked everywhere or – very occasionally – used public transport. She never bothered learning to drive!

  9. sykeology219

    I love this. In the US, good mass transit (public transit) is spotty, at best. In states such as mine—Florida—it downright sucks. Here the conservative folks think supporting public transformation is a form of socialism, as if socialism was horrible. Florida is my home state, but I did escape to Oregon for seven years back in the 90’s. Mass transit there, known as, Tri-Met, is magnificent. We (my husband and I) mostly used our 1983 VW Vanagon, for road trips, of which we did plenty. Some of my best memories of living in the beautiful city of Portland are the urban hikes we did. Portland, Oregon is often described as being one of the most European American cities because of the way it was planned. The city blocks are small. There are hundreds of parks. Walking is strongly encouraged and there is an urban growth boundary around every Oregon metropolis. This functions as a way to encourage small businesses to operate in the city cores. Portland is very vibrant. Although, COVID and the George Floyd murder protests did a number on many businesses that ended up closing. Portland is full of creative thinkers, the city cores will return. I so enjoyed walking and finding new, interesting places to visit. I miss walking to my job at Coffee People on NW 23rd and Hoyt, or walking to the Multnomah County Library in SW Portland. Here, near Orlando, Florida, I’ve been without a car for a total of 18 months. This was over losing two vehicles. The first was in August of 2018–I had no car for ten months, due to flooding the engine of my 13 year old Beetle, which was the most dependable car I ever owned. The second, I lost by it getting totaled in a four car accident in August 2021. Those 18 months were hell. The mass transit here is abysmal. Literally, there are no busses that go in the direction of the two jobs I had. In Florida having a car equates to freedom. It’s really kind of sad that it is extremely difficult to live a normal, productive life without personal transport. Had my car mishaps happened in Portland, it would have been almost zero problem. Europeans have always been smarter than Americans concerning transportation. Thank you for stopping by my blog site. Visit anytime. I love your artwork.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for this fantastic comment. I am familiar with Florida, and Oregon and agree with you completely re your assessment of public transportation in those States… The difference is amazing in every respect. I always laugh when I hear Americans says that public transportation and indeed a national health system is all about socialism.!! I lived and worked in the States from 1966 til 1993 and heard this over and over again and it was one of the many reasons I chose to return to the UK/Europe when my two children became adults. I hated having to drive everywhere and as shocked to find people getting in their cars to drive from one end of a shopping mall car park to the other……..
      You mentioned there being creative thinkers in Oregon….I am convinced that not driving contributes to creative thinking. The fragmentation of driving destroys the natural rhythms of creative thinking. I could go on and on, but mostly thank you so much again for this comment. Janet 🙂

      1. sykeology219

        I love your reply. Yes, Americans are lazy when it comes to transportation. Brian (now, my ex, but we are still on good terms) mostly used our Vanagon for road trips. We were photographers and were constantly gathering new images. I grew up in Florida, but I have seen more Western states than Eastern. I’m lucky to have seen 42, 43 states. I do love the freedom of road trips and being able to suddenly stop and photograph something. But, driving in the city? Blech. I hate the suburbs. I either have to live in the big city to take in all the action, or out in the sticks and see cows, horses, wildlife and countryside. I know that if I visited London, or England, really, I would not want to return to the US. I am an anthropology student—allegedly, that’s been put on hold.—so I love learning about different cultures. London is probably one of the most diverse cities on Earth. Plus, Indian is my favorite food. Lol. Again, thanks for visiting.

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        You and I are on the same wavelength. I also hate the suburbs….and like you enjoy either the richness of a big vibrant city or cows, sheep and horses in the countryside.:). London is incredibly diverse which is great and if you like Indian’s the place to be:) Thank you for commenting…Janet 🙂

      3. sykeology219

        No problem. You seem like a very interesting person. I tend to attract artists. My best friend of 50 years is an artist who lives on a farm.

  10. snowbird

    I loved this! Beautiful art as always…..sighs. I too dislike driving, especially now I need glasses. Petrol prices are crazy, I do feel for the essential car users but surely electric cars are the way to go. Love and hugs.xxxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Dina. Yes if we are to use cars, electric is the only way to go. When I consider petrol prices today I am amazed that people are prepared and indeed able to afford to drive. Again for us to move away from cars we need to change the way we live….we need to look at our lives very differently. May you enjoy a beautiful day. Janet XXXX

  11. Warren Johnson

    i also am carless. the best decision in several ways. financially i have no car to keep insurance on or put gas in. i ride my bike up to 20- 30 miles at times. i have a bike trailer for walmart runs. i am also in top shape cause of the excercise. At times I beat the bus while riding. lol.
    awesome paintings you are truly gifted. peace.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for your comment and for reading. Good for you – because I know that giving up a car in the States is not easy, and yet you have done it, and clearly have benefited from it. May you enjoy many long and peaceful rides. Janet 🙂

      1. warwar1963

        Thanks, I must say , in 2008 I experienced a divorce, losing house, job and couldnt stop the losses. I wound up homeless in Phoenix, Az.. At first it was extremely difficult learning to be at peace living with nothing and losing everything. it took about 3 years before i was somewhat content homeless. I say all that to say I had to learn to be without a car. Looking back, I would not change a thing. It is great gain being content with nothing. Not everyone can learn this.

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Thank you very much for this superb comment. I completely understand where you are coming from because during the past thirty or more years I have let go of most of my worldly goods…finding them to be a hindrance rather than an asset. In 2003 a project which was very close to my heart….went under and that was the beginning of my being freed up and changing my lifestyle. It does take time to get used to such a change, but once there, and you clearly have arrived, a sense of great freedom prevails.

      3. warwar1963

        Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. At times I feel or reason in error I am the only one experiencing the “stuff” in life that is difficult or “sorted”. It is nice when others take the time to come alongside another person, sharing similiar challenges. I am not alone once I get out of my head and away from myself by reaching out to someone else. thnx again.

  12. VJ

    My husband and I moved to a village where everything is in walking distance, with the same ideal in place. Life had another plan. I do miss walking

    1. sykeology219

      That’s one thing I miss about Portland, Oregon. And, Portland is way bigger than a village. A lot of people walked everywhere there. The city was designed to encourage walking. It’s also the most bicycle-friendly cities in the US. Scores of businesses have shower rooms and locker rooms to clean up up for work and lock your bikes up in. My then -husband commuted by bike to work almost every work day. Some days he took a buss or the train.

      1. sykeology219

        I know their design is taught in urban planning programs in US colleges. Portland State University has one of the best graduate urban planning programs in America. I thought about applying…but, I was too I love with traveling, writing and being in the coffee business,

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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.