Goodness, I'm almost becoming famous!
My way of life is not that different to many others in France: rural people tend to stay close to where they were born, and often only visit a large town when they absolutely have to - making hospital visits when the get older, for example. My nearest commune posts a list of residents who have died in the previous year, the average age is always well over 80 years - simple living, no junk food, less stress, and lots of family support, all perhaps contributing.
I don't think that I am that different to many other people, but that many other people are just different to me. I have the self-confidence to be on my own, don't feel threatened by solitude, and have enough intelligence (I hope) not to be influenced by so-called celebrity nor uninformed, knee-jerk journalism.
I can cook quite well (having owned restaurants before my semi-retirement, as well as many other businesses), and considered by those I help as being quite 'handy' with a toolkit (having once run an antique furniture restoration business), I can dig the garden and pick fruit, which means a whole heap of jam and chutney each year which I either swap for anything else that I might need, or just give away as presents at Christmas and birthday times. Semi-retirement? - well, I still buy and sell small antiques, the limit being what I can fit onto the trailer.
Yes, I have electricity and water (although the electricity supply can be erratic during the winter months) and I also have a wood-burner, which I use for cooking and hot water if the electricity goes off. The house is quite old (1889), single glazed, and not too well insulated, which means hot water bottles in the beds to keep everything aired through if it turns cold. Like almost everyone else in rural France I use bottled gas for cooking. I've a lawn mower and chainsaw, both of which need fuel, so I do get funny looks sometimes when I roll into a garage with the bike and trailer to fill my cans up.
CDs are cadged/borrowed/donated, and I rarely return from the UK without a pile of second-hand books in the trailer or my panniers (a good pick up in Bodmin yesterday, when a charity shop were throwing out a pile of old railways books: sociology, technology, human interest, old maps, and geography in each volume).
In the season, I can swap five kilos of apples from my garden for a bottle of wine at my local shop. Muscadet: double yum.
All very simple? I don't really think so: I was brought up in very rural Berkshire just after the war had ended, and life then was very similar to what mine is now. No-one had very much money (if any at all) so barter, exchange, swaps (and poaching!) were the way of life. People helped their neighbours if problems arose, looked after the elderly, and peer pressure kept most of the youngsters out of trouble (I'll tell your Dad!). No-one apart from the Doctor and Squire had a car so we cycled everywhere (my school was eight miles away, which meant a sixteen-mile round trip on a heavy old (and probably ninth-hand) 'sit up and beg' in all weathers. Holidays? - none, apart from the once a year day trip to somewhere like Weymouth or Littlehampton.
If I feel like a trip back to the UK I just load my tent and other kit into the trailer, hop on to my old Holdsworth (40 years and counting) or the Pavone (42 years and counting), and get going: five days to reach Roscoff, or four to St Malo. Always meet some jolly nice and interesting people in campervans along the way, and the questions are always the same: where are you going? where have you come from? how old are you, then? really? you don't look it. I can't ride THAT far on my electric bike! Glass of wine?
Enough: I've been waffling on far too much already. Go turn your televisions off, cancel the newspapers, switch off your mobile phones (I'm on the bike!), say hello to your neighbours, teach your children what responsibility means, cancel your appointment with the tattooist, learn to cook, cycle or walk for an hour a day, and you will soon feel fitter, better balanced, less stressed (how dare you say I'm stressed!), and find out just how much fun having a simple life can be.
Happy days (now then, where's that corkscrew?).