A week in the UK to throw out old stuff

in ecoTrain7 months ago (edited)


Prior to leaving the UK nine years ago on a barefoot journey of discovery I sold or recycled the majority of my possessions because I wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago with everything I owned on my back. The stuff which remained was deemed too important to throw out and ended up in a garden shed at my mother's house in Norwich where it has stayed since then. In the last month my mother sold her house (seen above) and is now looking to buy a much smaller one, so basically my junk has to go.

But rather than ship it all over to France or pay to put it in storage in the UK, I thought I would take the opportunity to go through everything and reduce the pile to something more manageable. When I packed these boxes ten years ago I still had dreams of being a hollywood filmmaker! So yes, my priorities have changed a lot since then, thanks to the Grand Solar Minimum and the now evident decline of our food supply.

This is what it all looked like on the first day of my UK visit.


Other than that Chinese desk in the middle which was has sentimental value, the rest of the furniture I intended to recycle.

There were a few items which jumped out right away as being useful in my current life. Like this lightweight tent for example which was my home during the Camino walk & also in Asia during the years which followed.


I set it up to make sure it still worked. And it does!

It is now at the back of our French garden, getting the children used to the idea of camping out in the wild.


Going through every part of my old life piece by piece was quite an emotional experience. Extremely difficult at times to distinguish between 'no longer important' and 'too important to throw out'.

I have noted over the years how humans who have been sufficiently mind controlled by the age of materialism will spend their lives endlessly collecting junk and while they may feel a strong connection with this stuff and believe it to somehow define who they are, the junk ends up owning them and weighing them down, like the physical equivalent of emotional baggage.

George Carlin says it best of course.

With this in mind I have now reduced my stuff down to these eight boxes which include my old vinyl, photo albums, diaries, art, books, sculptures & project files. Oh, and an old Swiss cow bell I was christened in!


I have an uncle who will hopefully look after this lot for me until the next time I am called upon to go through it again, at which point I will likely reduce it further before eventually settling on a few essential boxes to keep with me wherever I go.

So, around 80% of my old stuff, once deemed as essential, is now making its way to charity shops and recycling centres. Like these three crates of books. Most of them relate to the films I studied at University and I simply don't feel them to have value in my life any more.


I took all the photos & paintings out of their frames, keeping the good stuff within.


But there were one or two which had stuck to the glass due to moisture and to remove them would have damaged them. Like this one of me in Switzerland where I spent a lot of time as a child.


Here is the house in which my mother was born during WW2. Amazing looking place!


Here's me when I started performing magic shows around the age of ten.


And here are my medals which were all achieved in my teens at school.


Aside from the 1989 magic award in the middle, most of them are shooting medals, the only sport I ever really excelled at. With a rifle I can hit something the size of a dustbin lid from 1 mile away without a telescopic sight, mostly because I started shooting at the age of seven. The schools I went to were quite military in nature and I don't think it is a coincidence that out of all the sports I could have chosen this is the only one with an obvious real world application which is more than just a sport.

I received a ton of these spoons before the age of ten, but only my first one remains now from 1985. At that time I was shooting smallbore rifles (.22 calibre) but even this is enough to kill a small animal if you are a good shot.


In later years I progressed to fullbore rifles (anything over 5.56mm calibre) which were powerful enough to leave bruises in my shoulder after each competition. The smell of spent bullets I will never forget. In case you are wondering, the bore (or calibre) is a measurement of the internal diameter of a gun’s barrel.

Here is a sculpture I made at University. In the end I scrapped the base but kept the darker wood carving at the top. That bit took me ages!


What about this 16mm film splicer I used during my BA honours degree? Amazing to think that back then this was the most advanced way to cut films together! You would physically cut out your desired shot from a very large roll of film and use the sellotape to stick it into the main sequence.


It is a heavy old thing and while it does have some great memories attached to it, will it every have application in my life again? Very unlikely. Sorry film splicer, I am grateful for your service but it is time to go.


Some things I left for my mother to use, like this distiller which is still the best way I know of to produce 100% clean water. Steam can hold no impurities.


So I think that's it. This list could go on forever.

It was wonderful being in the UK with my mother and it is wonderful being back home in France again, feeling lighter on my feet than ever. The kittens are growing up so fast!


And the fruits of our labour are in abundance.


It is worth noting that here in this country I have very few possessions. Kitchen equipment mostly (blender, juicer, dehydrator) but also some tools, some solar power, an ipad, mac laptop and a Linux based desktop computer with two screens. Other than my clothes and a few phones on which I take my photos that's about it. The entire worldly collection of @samstonehill can now be condensed to probably around ten boxes, easily enough to fit in a car.

For obvious reasons I leave you this time with two questions:

How much stuff do you have and do you really need it all during these times of change?

Love & Light everyone 🌱



Wow, what a beautiful place you grew up in! I am going through a similar moment right now because my mom has been cleaning out her attic and so I got a pile of stuff that was mine. Keeping very little, getting rid of lots, selling a few items on ebay. It's a lot easier now since I have learned to purge over the years.

In fact we lived in London when I was born. But I will still be sad to see this amazing house go. Always feel like families need one big house to get everyone together regularly and I am not sure this family has one any more. I told my mother I would build her an Earthship in France. Which I really would if she moved here!

Good for you on the purge. Mothers are quite good a pushing us in the right direction on this front :)

Loved reading this. It brought back memories of me going through my own old things in the month before I left for Germany in 2017. I shreeded a ton of old papers that had piled up over the years which I wouldn't need anymore, and decided I'd digitize the rest upon my return.

For anyone thinking of doing so, do it now. Get those prized photos, old movies and other errata on a portable hard drive or in the cloud fast. I didn't have the time to do so and I've shared about the theft and sale of my belongings while i was overseas.

However, if there was a silver cloud in that, it was that I didn't have to agonize what to get rid of and what to keep. They did that for me. So if you're reading this, make copies of the things that have meaning to you and save those memories.

Hey there! Long time no see.

Happy you enjoyed the read. And wow! Was not aware of the theft & sale of your belongings. That must have been difficult at the time, but as you say, much easier than going through everything bit by bit. I was emotionally & physically exhausted by the end of the week and it took me a few days to find the energy to write this.

Good advice on the digitisation of paper which is personal to us, though I would not recommend the cloud. Perhaps I am just paranoid but it seems to me that if our private images & data is controlled by a centralised system this will not end well for us.

I actually found an old 2T hard drive in my boxes with nothing interesting on it, so I erased it and had intended to photograph everything & transfer over old film files, but didn't have time for that in the end. Will likely return one more time with this (and a few other things) in mind.

All the best to you and have a great summer!

Wow! Quite a relevant piece! I have been trying to throw away my possessions and junks for the whole year with very little success. My old belongings weighed me down and slow my progress. It’s time to be decisive!

Those kittens look very funny!

I guess the reason why we accumulate so many things is because we have the idea that things give us comfort, or that things can act as a sort of padding against the dangers of the world. But when we strip down to the bear essentials, we realize that the inner strength we always had resurfaces, and all the senseless buying or accumulating was a sign of dysfunction.

Hope you get to downsize soon!

Ah yes, I forgot to mention in my list, one of those eight boxes I kept is full of magic! These I will enjoy showing to Esteban & Luna. I actually intend to return to the UK one more time, specifically to pick up that box. It would give me great pleasure to start performing again for young people. Magic has no language barrier!

can act as a sort of padding against the dangers of the world

I think that is a big factor these days. But the main thing I have realised now that I spend most of my time outdoors learning about plants is that knowledge is so much more important than material stuff. If you have the knowledge you can just create whatever it is you want! Even with my skill as a rifle marksman I don't feel as if I need a rifle. Have noticed how the right 'stuff' has a habit of appearing prior to the moments we need them.

Good to see you @jin-out.

If you ever come back to England, let me know, i'll come pay you a visit.

You're so right about knowledge. Once you have the knowledge and you actualize the knowledge, then that is a life skill right there that can always be honed when and wherever.

Keep chillin man!

I will also come say hi! If Id known you were in Norwich this week we could have met for a drink of some description! Maybe next time : )

YAY PARRTAY. I ain't in Norwish, more the West Midlands.

lets do it! meet in the middle maybe?

It’s time to be decisive!

Absolutely. For so many reasons now is the time to make our lives lighter.

Good luck with your purge and yes, the kittens are incredibly funny at the moment. Such a great energy to have running around the house causing chaos everywhere ;)

Your post has inspired me to have a clear out. I'm quite sentimental about items but I can't take them with me when I leave this earth.

I fully understand your feeling of sentimentality. It isn't easy to let go. A few things went in the bin, only to be removed later. Then put back and later removed again! A test is what it is. But I think if we listen carefully we can feel if something is too important to throw away.

Good luck with the purge!

Ha ha. Yes, I've done that. I'm determined this time though.

All my stuff would fit in a small van.

I think this really says something about a person. We should start a group! The small van club ;)

I loved this post Sam, and I love lightening my load every so often. I have been in the position that once in my late twenties I lost EVERYTHING I had and had to start from scratch again. In hindsight it was a great life lesson and since I try not to let stuff build up un necessarily. Walk lightly upon this earth and use only what I need. Thats my motto. Stay happy and well and give those adorable kittens some love from me.

Am with you on the importance of going through material losses in this life. Feels crappy at the time but man is it an important to lesson to learn. None of our stuff really matters at all! Only the footprints we leave behind.

Walk lightly upon this earth and use only what I need

A wonderful motto. If only all those who have more money than they need adopted this one, the world would be a very different place.

Giving the kittens some love from you now :)

Wow! There is no better thing than checking out some old stuff from the past... Every object has a part in our memories and we connect them with people, events, places...
When I was younger, I didn't like to "accumulate" old stuff and I would rather just dump them, but today, I would like to see some of them again... So, the answer to your question is that I probably need my laptop and couple of pants (this also depends on location... lol)... and I'm good to go! :)

I have picked this post on behalf of the @OurPick project and it will be highlighted in the next post!

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It was a good feeling overall, checking it all out. It's easy to forget how much can be achieved in a single life!

Appreciate the pick :)

Awesome Sam, I know that feeling of being lighter after reducing the material possessions. As you have given so much away, I wonder if this will somehow make its way back to you in the form of new possessions in the future? They say you give what you get!

I still have lots of stuff and am constantly trying to reduce it! But it is not easy!

I gave a lot of it to my sister and her family, which has already had the pleasant effect of reconnecting us :)

I must send her a message in fact...

Good luck reducing that stuff!

great stuff!!

My mom like collecting old clothes but just keeping them. One time, a havoc badly hit our place. No water, no electricity, and most of our clothes were dirty . what was left were the kept ones.. And those collections of my mom became useful lol..

I think it is important to look for the lessons, even when dealing with a havoc or worse. Life is always teaching us lessons.

Inspirational… yes the things we accumulated in years. Especially when things happen like this. Putting things in storage you once thought we’re important. But a move changes all. Great job of making it way back to just 8 boxes.
I moved a lot in my live, and the last 7 moves made me realise… the same. Every time I end up with less and less things. It does free a person… makes space for so much more. I removed all my stuff that I had with family over the years. Now I have it all with me.
Soon we move again to country number 6 and we will half our belongings. Here in Spain our apartment was empty, so we did needed a lot of furniture. But we will sell or give away most when we go. Up to the next adventure…
Happy Friday! @samstonehill 😊 thanks for sharing.

Getting it down to eight boxes sure wasn't easy but am glad it is done. I will return one more time to the UK with two big empty suitcases. I would like a few more bits and bobs here in France. The flights are not expensive so it's actually cheaper to do it this way than to post it.

It does free a person… makes space for so much more

Nicely put.

Happy Friday indeed! Am sitting at home alone on this Friday night, just the way I like it ;)

I can imagine @samstonehill
Yes, good to take advantage of the lower prices now, as I know shipping can be crazy sometimes.
And Spain is holding everything that comes from the UK forever in customs at the moment too and tries to add on cost that don’t exist. Is that the same to France?

That sounds lovely. Enjoy 👋🏻😁

Had so much fun reading this Sam!

Appreciate you saying so. Had a lot of fun writing it!

And I enjoy how my experience of this world always seems to come with lessons which are relatively easy to share with this community :)

Being free is something i wanted for a long time. Free of things, free of things weighing me down. I spent a lot of time and effort becoming financially free. Now i'm here i spend most of my time looking at stuff to buy because i didnt buy anything for a long time. Im filling a void i think but i have either two switches. Own nothing or own it all. Im currently in a state of owning it all, power tools, records, clothes, 'stuff' for my van. I mainly wanted two things which was an air rifle and a snowboard for a long time. I now own both because they are nice to have. I think at some point ill eventually purge myself of all this 'stuff' that owns me but for now im enjoying having it, especially the power tools. I just would like a man shed and a garden, maybe a house near the sea. Your mothers house looks incredible by the way, looks like a lot of work though.

I feel what you are saying. All or nothing. And I don't think there is anything wrong with having lots of stuff. Life is long and constantly changing! It's just our desire to hang on to it all forever which tends to trap us.

All men must have power tools and yes, you nailed it with my mother's house. It is a lot of work. Too much it would seem for a person of her age. She is looking for a bungalow now.


Hey cuddles ;)

We still have to find names for two of our cats!

Kyle Cease tells a great story about keeping a movie poster "to show his children, one day" ....and coming to the realisation that the children probably don't care that much about an old movie poster, and would prefer t make fresh new memories; here, now, together.... And when does that "one day" come anyway?! "Ok kids.... gather around, Daddy has something special to show you....."

Then what....?!