Lucy Williams

Self-Sufficiency

“I gave up normal life to live in my own wood – for £15,500”

A MAN who gave up his normal life to live off the grid with his family has revealed how – and why – he did it.

Fraser, his wife Rachael and their children Grace and Albie stay in a patch of woodlands in Lancashire, UK.  But the 4.5 acres of land was bare when Fraser managed to pull £15,500 together to buy it 18 years ago.

Fraser said: “Holding out for that perfect piece of land isn’t always feasible because there’s always someone there with a larger wallet than you – get something you can afford.

“Plant trees as quickly as you can, because it’s going to take a long time, then make it your paradise.”

He’s now living the dream after building a completely off-the-grid life for him and his young family.  The dad-of-two says he was just 22 and living at home in council housing when he scraped the money together – and hasn’t looked back since.

He’s left behind the noisy neighbours and ended up running his own YouTube channel named The Off Grid Family, encouraging others to take the leap, too.

Recalling almost 20 years ago, Fraser said: “I was living at home, living on a council housing estate. The area was a bit rough, and you’ve got noisy neighbours and all those things that come with it.”

He said house prices were through the roof – even for back then – so he started up a business in tree surgery to try get some funds together.

Fraser continued: “My passion was growing trees and having nature around me.  You couldn’t get a mortgage for land. I had to get a personal loan. The land was £15,500 for 4.5 acres – it was an awful lot of money for me.

“The only way I managed to do it really was because I was still living at home. There was no inheritance and there was no trust fund.

“People think you can’t get this without help… you can.  I went to work and in the beginning was working six days a week.”

At the beginning he just planted trees on the land and used it as storage – which is called “agroforestry”.

He’s since planted thousands of trees, a massive bar, solar and water filtration system.

Fraser said: “It’s been a massive undertaking. We’re completely off the grid. We’ve got a family now living here and I suppose it’s called the good life. They’re quite fortunate really, we’ve broken the cycle, they’re not going to be on a housing estate, which is brilliant.”

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LAtest map still

Welcome to the new upgraded off-grid map

We hope this map becomes a vital part of your off-grid life.  It is a free, glocal (global, local) tool, catalyzing the off-grid community to grow and flourish.

The video we recently posted will help you make the most of this amazing resource. Its pretty simple, but you can get the idea more quickly if you glance at the short video.

If you are living a grid-tied life, this is your route to finding others who want to make the step towards self-sufficiency.  Its better to go off-grid together with others – sharing skills and resources on what may prove to be an epic voyage.

Your goal may simply be to start a local renewable energy co-op with your neighbours.  Or you may be heading for the hills – buying or renting land, setting off in a van or a boat.  Perhaps you just want to try the off-grid living for a weekend. Some of our members rent out their outhouses and guest cabins.

As well as being a place to find others who want to go off-grid, many of the points on the map are people who already live off -grid, and need others to join them.

We hope you use it yourself, tell your friends, and spread the word far and wide, through all available channels.

Go forth and multiply!

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Heat map of USA
Community

SouthWest USA Bakes Under Heat Dome

What if every home had a solar powered fan?A massive dome  over the western and southern United States has left Americans sweltering in soaring temperatures, poised to approach all-time records in Phoenix, Las Vegas and California’s Central Valley and surpass 130 degrees in Death Valley, Calif., the heat capital of the world.  Excessive-heat watches cover 15 states from  New Mexico, to Arizona and California, and Texas.

In many areas, it is the length of the heat wave, more than its intensity which is making people struggle. Some have seen no relief from dangerous temperatures for over a month, and the heat wave shows no signs of abating soon.

In the West, it’s a blistering, dry heat that presents a growing risk for dehydration.

“Dangerous heat will result in a major to extreme risk for heat-related illnesses for much of the population, especially those who are heat sensitive and those without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration,” wrote the National Weather Service in Hanford, Calif. Excessive-heat warnings are in effect for much of California’s highly populated Central Valley, where highs could reach 117 degrees.

Death Valley could challenge the highest temperature ever reliably measured on the planet. The heat-prone site may make it above 130 degrees over the weekend, surpassing the record mark previously set at the same location in July 2021 and August 2020. Nighttime low temperatures in Death Valley are forecast to exceed 100 degrees.

Forecast highs on Sunday in the Southwest United States from the National Weather Service. (Ian Livingston)

Across the southern Plains, Deep South and Southeast, tropical moisture will overlap with hot weather to make heat exhaustion and heat stroke a dangerous threat. Heat indexes could climb into the 110-to-120-degree range. Marathon Key, Fla., just netted its hottest five-day period on record, with an average afternoon high of 97.2 degrees. Wednesday featured a heat index of 118 degrees. Unprecedented water temperatures between 94 and 98 degrees are also threatening sensitive corals and marine life.

Floods, fires and deadly heat are the alarm bells of a planet on the brink

The heat is not confined to the Lower 48 states. Southern Europe is also in the early stages of a dangerous heat wave. Excessively high temperatures are forecast from Portugal and Spain through southern Italy and as far east as Romania and Bulgaria on Thursday and Friday.

In Sicily and Sardinia, temperatures could approach 118 degrees (48 Celsius), challenging the highest levels ever observed in Europe, according to the European Space Agency. The heat will expand into Central Europe, including Germany and Poland, over the weekend and may linger over southern Europe for much of next week.
A punishing dry heat in the Southwest U.S.

It’s not just Death Valley facing all-time records. Sunday is expected to bring a high of 117 degrees to Las Vegas, which would tie the city’s hottest temperature ever recorded. There’s a chance that Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

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Robert Breton in front of treehouse
Land

Hawaii treehouse to escape ‘The Matrix’

Robert Breton left his home in California and moved to Hawaii to ‘escape the Matrix’

He bought a plot of land for $29,850 (£24,215) and built his own two-storey home over a period of two years. He also built a greenhouse and an outhouse.

The self-proclaimed Tarzan has quit his job to live in a treehouse in the jungle in order to “escape the matrix and get in touch with nature”.

Breton, 35, originally from California, moved to Hawaii and built a treehouse with his bare hands, revealing how he “achieved his dream” on TikTok and YouTube.  It’s situated just 5.5ft off the ground, is 20ft tall, 14ft by 14ft and features a functioning sink, mini fridge, shelves, a futon, and a loft that holds the “sleeping quarters”.

Breton uses two solar panels attached outside the house to provide electricity for all his tech, including his phone, his laptop and his TV.

He is also growing his own food and living entirely from rainwater, which he collects off the roof into a large 300-gallon tank, where it gets filtered and sent to faucets inside the home.

The greenhouse is where he grows his own fruits and vegetables, including green beans, broccoli, beets, lettuce, and carrots.

It means he rarely has to take the hour-long walk down to the nearest town to pick up grains and other supplements.

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The outhouse is where he has the bathroom, with a functioning sink, washer, toilet and shower — all using collected rainwater.

Breton makes money from a supplement company he founded along with his social media accounts which have gathered a big following.

He urges others to follow in his footsteps of living off the grid and quit their 9-5 jobs.

Viewers were quick to flock to the comments and share their desire to do the same, with one writing: “One day, that is gonna be me.”

A second quipped: “Beautiful and so peaceful. I hope that one day I will be like you”, while a third added: “Omg dude for real how much would it be to get a similar home to this!”

Others however slammed Breton for his off the grid lifestyle which contradicts his use of a phone and social media.

One wrote: “Not really taking a break from the matrix if you’re posting online about it are ya.”

A second added: “‘Off grid’ means no cellphones, my dude.”

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Two festival goers sit in the shade under a sign
Community

Small World Kicks Off UK Festival Season

The Small World festival in Headcorn, Kent, is the UK’s only totally solar-powered festival, with no generators at all. The Spring Gathering is the traditional start to the UK Festival season.

(Please put all dates for other festivals in the chat and comments of this story and we will build up a list.)/em

A few thousand visitors, and up to 1000 staff enjoy 5 days of sunshine, mainly acoustic music, free yoga and the nightly fire show, which takes place at dusk.

The main central tent has a full roster of world music, and there are multiple venues all over the place featuring hundreds of indie bands.

Spoken word performances start at midnight after the amplifiers are turned off, especially at the fire pit outside the Tribal Voices bus.

Off-grid editor Nick Rosen will be speaking 2.30pm Saturday about how to go off-grid.

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the new pylon shape stretching across the somerset countryside
Energy

New Generation Of Pylons Will Trash UK Countryside

History is repeating itself in the UK, with a new generation of electricity towers breeding fear and local campaigning against National Grid.
The power company is attempting to impose its latest upgrade on the grounds of netzero – decarbonisation. But its arguments do not stand up to scrutiny say locals, who point out that the new pylons are far more expensive than the old, and have not been permitted anywhere else in the country so far, despite a 2035 decarbonisation deadline.

These new pylons are a world first and the result of more than a decade of planning, consultation, and installation.
And the plan is that more will be installed across the country as part of the Government’s ambitions to expand the energy grid to facilitate the move to Net Zero. Up close they look like steel obelisks standing 35m tall, equipped with two arms, strung with cables capable of carrying 400,000 volts of electricity. From a distance, they resemble a string of golf tees, winding their way up the Somerset landscape towards Avonmouth in the county’s north. Starkly white and solid, waiting to inherit the cables from their lattice-framed ancestors.

More than one hundred are expected to be installed and energised by 2024, as part of a project to connect new sources of low-carbon energy to homes and businesses, including Hinkley Point C, EDF Energy’s new nuclear station in Somerset.

In Rooks Bridge, directly beneath the overhead power lines, Gary Robinson ran a caravan campsite for 20 years. When builders descended in 2020, he was forced to close his business which now sits less than 100m away from one of the new pylons. When it rains, or the wind is strong, the noise is “enormous”, Robinson says.

Pylons of any kind generate audible whistling noise in high wind speeds and a buzzing noise in moisture. But T-pylon cables are gathered closer to the ground and residents have complained the effect is far worse than previously installed lattice pylons.

A National Grid spokesman said anyone directly affected by the scheme is eligible to submit a claim for any loss incurred under the compensation code, saying: “We always recommend that people who believe they have a claim seek appropriate independent professional advice.”

But Robinson, whose campsite licence was revoked on account of the noise and building work, says “proof of loss” is difficult.

Across the road, three empty properties, all recently refurbished but now 50m from a T-pylon, sit empty. Claire Feenie, who has lived on a secluded road in Cote for 21 years, watched as an old pylon opposite her home was replaced with one of the new systems two years ago. Now, she can see the structure from her conservatory. She can hear it too.

The pensioner, 74, says the new pylons were “more of an eyesore” than their older counterparts. “It’s because they’re solid. The old pylons – …

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Shelter

Off-Grid Housing In USA & Europe Worth $68 BILLION By 2028

A new report on the off-grid housing market claims the sector is growing at 7% per year and will reach $68b per year by 2028 thanks to increasing awareness of the advantages of off-grid housing, such as energy independence, cost savings, and environmental sustainability.

SkyQuest’s research report says to interest in eco-friendly and minimalistic housing options requiring less energy is leading to the growth. Banks and insurance companies are now offering specialized insurance packages for off-grid homes, says the report which is likely to boost growth further.

The growing availability and affordability of renewable energy technologies have made it easier for people to live off-grid, reducing their reliance on traditional energy sources and decreasing their environmental impact.

Solar energy is the main power source for off-grid homes, allowing self-sufficiency and energy independence. Off-grid solar systems rely on solar panels and energy storage devices like solar batteries to provide electricity without needing a power grid. In addition, solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source, making it an attractive option for environmentally conscious consumers looking for sustainable and eco-friendly ways of powering their homes and businesses.

The need for reliable and sustainable energy sources in rural areas has led to an upsurge in off-grid solar power installations, providing a further incentive.

US Lighting Group, Inc. has announced the formation of wholly-owned subsidiary, Futuro Houses, LLC, to meet the demand for affordable housing. The new venture offers a self-sufficient, cost-effective, and energy-efficient housing solution for an off-grid lifestyle. With its smaller footprint, self-sufficient design, and low environmental impact, Futuro Houses is positioning itself to appeal to those seeking a modern, off-grid lifestyle.
Zendure, a rapidly growing clean energy tech startup, has unveiled its latest innovations in portable solar power at Intersolar North America. At the forefront is the SuperBase V, which is the world’s first modular, portable power station with semi-solid state batteries. This new technology delivers more reliable, safer, and cleaner energy to users wherever and whenever needed. The SuperBase V is a versatile power station for various purposes, from RV and off-grid living to EV charging, whole-home power, and emergency backup.
SEI Logistics, a Canadian company, has launched a new solution for off-grid power in remote and extreme locations. The portable, folding solar panels and battery kit are specifically designed for the oil and gas industry, where reliable power sources are crucial in harsh environments. The kit is housed in a durable case built to withstand extreme cold and harsh weather conditions. This product offers a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to traditional power sources in remote locations.

Main suppliers of Off-Grid Housing

American Tiny House
Designer ECO Tiny Homes
Aussie Tiny Houses
ZOLA Electric
Greenlight Planet
Abengoa Solar
Sunrain
BrightSource Energy
Solectria Renewables
Canadian Solar Inc.
Winch Energy
Sunpower Corporation
Forest River Inc.
Thor Industries Inc.

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Energy

US Food Corps Turn Away From The Grid…Along With Google and Big Govt.

Power outages are even more costly to food producers and distributors than they are to the rest of us. Loss of refrigeration can mean loss of product. Safety rules often require shut-down and sanitizing even if the outage is short. So it’s not surprising that the food industry is turning to off-grid for more reliable electric supply.

Bluehouse Greenhouse, which specializes in sustainable indoor agriculture has hired developer Endurant to build an off-grid microgrid for the company’s 2.8 million square ft. greenhouse. The highly-automated glass structure will produce 50 million pounds of fresh produce annually.

Why go off-grid?

Bluehouse Greenhouse decided it was too expensive and too difficult to interconnect with the grid. “We had to think about what is the most resilient solution, where are we going to get the most benefit for our money and investment, and where are we going to have the most secure energy system,” said Ari Kashani, CEO and founder of Bluehouse Greenhouse.  Most microgrid developers find that grid-connection approvals significantly delay their projects. Will others follow the Bluehouse Greenhouse model?

And another two!

Most North American microgrids are grid connected, allowing them to take services from the grid or sell services to the grid as needed. But Taylor Farms is going entirely off-grid. The major California fresh food producer is building a standalone power supply in partnership with Bloom Energy, Ameresco and Concept Clean Energy.

Almond World, a refrigerated cold storage developer in California’s Central Valley, is another food facility that is taking its energy operation off-grid. The company has partnered with Origo Investments to build a facility in the Madera Airport Industrial Park that will include an off-grid microgrid designed and built by Scale Microgrid Solutions.

Bimbo Bakeries, the maker of such products as Thomas’ English muffins, Arnold bread, and Sara Lee and Entenmann’s pastries is installing microgrids to meet its sustainability goals. The company announced plans in 2022 to install microgrids at six manufacturing facilities over the next year with the help of GreenStruxure, a subsidiary of Schneider Electric.

And there’s more…

But its not just food companies which are going out on their own.  Sunnova  – the rooftop solar company – has gone into housing development to provide itself the rooves it needs.

It’s not always easy to develop community microgrids because they clash with the conventional utility model. So Sunnova has proposed a new approach — microutilities that operate standalone facilities in newly built California neighborhoods of fewer than 2,000 customers. The plan requires state regulatory approval.

Like Sunnova, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, sees outdated utility rules getting in the way of energy development, so it is creating its own utility company. The county utility will oversee multiple microgrids built to encourage economic activity and improve energy resilience.

Even Energy companies are going off the grid!

Entergy is among many existing utility companies investing in microgrids as part of its …

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Kentucky a centre for off-grid living

A Kentucky couple, who have been off-grid for more than five years, have set up a website to discuss the lifestyle.

Mark and Emily McCafferty tell their story on AccidentalHippies.com. The couple bought 16 acres of land and built a nearly 1,200-square-foot house that uses a combination of energy sources, including solar panels, a radiant heat system, a wood stove and propane. The house also features a rainwater catchment system.

According to a study by outdoor services provider LawnStarter, the Bluegrass State was the top state in America for living off-the-grid, which is defined as having a home that’s not connected to a utility company or co-op for a power source.

Kentucky ranked well across the metrics, LawnStarter said in a release. Besides having laws allowing for an off-the-grid lifestyle, the state received top marks for the number of rural health clinics per 1,000 square miles. According to ruralhealthinfo.org, the state has 252 such clinics

Other strengths included the state’s cost of living and its high marks for solar power potential, a temperate climate and sufficient precipitation.

Off-the-grid lifestyles are gaining in popularity. A 2019 study by Accenture noted that in some markets, residential and commercial demand for solar panels could top 15% within the next 15 years.

However, according to the experts, the lifestyle is not for everyone.

“In short, be ready to devote 100 percent of your days to your lifestyle,” said Gabriel Durham, the sustainability coordinator for the University of Houston’s Office of Sustainability. “Video games become farming, work commutes become hand-washing laundry, going out to see people becomes chopping firewood.”

Emily McCafferty said in a blog post on the site that living off the grid does not mean disappearing from society altogether. Instead, for them, it’s more about being mindful of the footprint they’re creating.

She states on her blog that people who may be interested in living off the grid should start creating self-sufficient habits in their current residence.

“Learn how to bake bread, mend clothes, can food, wire circuits, build from scratch, and so on,” she wrote. “There are hundreds of great homestead skills you can learn right where you are. The more prepared you are going into an off-grid building project, the better off you’ll be.”

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Doomsday Bunker – book review

Bradley Garrett’s tour of bunker sites and the people who own them is a snapshot of the way the most paranoid react to the pandemic.

A “bunker mentality”  means a refusal to look around and change opinions in the light of changing facts. However, it is possible that the rational response to the current state of the world is to retreat into …. a  bunker?

In his book Bunker: Building for End Times, (buy it in UK)Bradley Garrett, an American “experimental geographer” and “urban explorer”, visits people whose response to the proliferation of threats these days by digging in.

In Switzerland, says Garrett, there is bunker space for 8.6 million people. And North Korea “is the most bunkered society in the history of the Earth”.

In America we meet families rushing to buy access to underground bunkers at Fortitude Ranch, a growing community of doomsday preppers. Established a few years ago by former air force intelligence officer Dr Drew Miller, who has a PhD from Harvard in operations research, the 50-acre ranch is guarded by watchtowers and barbed-wire fences. It stockpiles tinned food, face masks, loo roll, antibiotics and – this being America – guns and ammunition. Their experts track “trigger events” – cataclysmic incidents that might spark a collapse of society.

At various other bunker sites, a handful of families even decided that it was the right moment to descend underground. Most emerged after just a few weeks, once they realised that Covid was not causing the sky to fall. But their willingness to abandon their day-to-day lives at a moment’s notice is evidence of a “second doom boom”, says Garrett.

“In 2020, we’ve had a taste of what it means to have our lives upended,” says Garrett from his home in Los Angeles.

“We’ve built a society now that is very dependent upon international trade and fragile supply lines.”

We have long harboured a morbid fascination with how our world might end. As early as 1200BC in Cappadocia, in what is now Turkey, the Hittites carved subterranean shelters into the sides of volcanoes. In the Roman city of Pompeii, a wealthy resident chiselled a hidden chamber beneath his villa, which was preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. In the 19th century, the dark writing of HG Wells reflected a fear that new technology might usher in the end of life as people knew it.

But the first real “doom boom” arrived in the Sixties, when President John F Kennedy urged Americans to prepare for the threat of nuclear armageddon by building fallout shelters in their gardens. The British government also built bunkers to protect officials in the event of a Soviet nuclear strike. The most famous is Burlington, a 35-acre complex 120ft underground in Wiltshire. Containing 60 miles of underground roads, the site could accommodate 4,000 people for three months, including the Cabinet. …

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Couple wanted for remote land rental

A unique opportunity to rent a large open space with amazing views and good quality land for growing food has opened up in the Welsh countryside.

An ecological group from Brighton is planning to create residential smallholdings in Gower, Swansea, and is seeking long term tenant farmers.

If you are yearning to escape the daily grind in the city, this once in a lifetime chance could be your way out.

The Ecological Land Cooperative – Furzehill site is looking for two tenant farmers who will live in a mobile home before eventually being able – with planning consent -to build a modestly-sized, environmentally-friendly home each, Wales Online reports.

The grassland site has mains water connection but it is expected that the smallholders would live off-grid, using coppiced wood for winter heating.

They’d grow fruit and veg -including in greenhouses and polytunnels -look after hedgerows and newly-created ponds, and could rear animals.

Temporary accommodation would also be provided near the barn for two volunteers.

Normally, development in the open countryside is very restricted, but the ELC has applied to Swansea Council for permission under the Welsh Government’s one planet development planning guidance.

This guidance describes such schemes as low-impact development which “either enhances or does not significantly diminish environmental quality”, and said they must have a management plan.

In a planning statement, the ELC said the chosen smallholders would lease the land but could not sub-let it.

It added that the site would be tied to ecological farming in perpetuity.

The report said: “In addition to their many ecological benefits, the ELC’s small farm developments increase access to local fresh food, benefit the local economy and help to address a lack of affordable rural housing and an ageing rural population.”

The Furzehill site in the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB is just under 18 acres, with five of those already leased to a local food and veg cooperative called Cae Tan CSA.

The ELC said careful consideration had been given to meet AONB requirements, such as low buildings and additional planting to screen them.

Courses and annual open days would be held, it said, with the community benefiting from an extra locally-grown produce option.

In a separate planning document, the ELC said a lot of food consumed in the UK was grown under plastic sheeting in arid areas of Morocco and Spain.

In Wales, most one planet development applications to date have been in west Wales.

Last year, Pembrokeshire councillor Huw George said he was concerned these developments were not being monitored strictly enough, while farmers weren’t allowed to build cottages for their children on their land.

Cllr George told BBC Wales: “Something has to be done to tighten this policy, to make sure there’s a level playing field for those who live and work in this area.”

Sonia Sinahan, ELC operations manager, said: “We monitor our small farms …

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Second Sleep – Book Review

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris – Buy it on Amazon US – an elegant, post-apocalyptic thriller
A priest investigates a vicar’s untimely death in a future Britain where reason is banished by dogma

The title of the book refers to the once common practice of having a period of wakefulness in the middle of the night, before returning to bed. It’s a powerful image that posits the current climate, in which much of the country enjoys relative health, wealth and freedom from outdated superstitions, as a brief, lucid window between two long stretches of darkness.

The Second Sleep: the Sunday Times 1 bestselling novel

One of the ways you know a good novel is by the other books you reach for as comparisons. Robert Harris’s latest, The Second Sleep, is a work of speculative fiction set in Britain 800 years into the future, after a “systemic collapse of technical civilisation” known as the Apocalypse. Into the void of the “Dark Age” steps a rejuvenated and dogmatic church, whose authoritarian rule and obsessive suppression of heretical “scientism” ensure that people live in brutal and backward conditions.

Harris’s bleak imagined world issues a clarion call to the present, urging us to recognise the value of progress, the importance of woolly concepts like liberalism and the rule of law, and all the other ideals we’ve spent generations fighting for yet seem prepared to sacrifice on the altar of populism. For make no mistake, this novel may be set in a Wessex that’s at once futuristic and quasi-medieval, but it’s very much about the here and now, about Trump and Brexit and the Govian rejection of experts.

Christopher Fairfax is a newly ordained priest who serves under the sinister Bishop Pole of Exeter. He has been sent to a village, Addicott St George, deep in a valley often cut off by the violent storms that beset this future England. The vicar of the village, Father Lacy, has recently died, and Pole has dispatched Fairfax to bury the old priest.

Harris is a master of plotting and, in elegant, understated third-person prose, he ratchets the tension ever upwards. A mysterious figure appears at Lacy’s funeral, casting doubt on the accidental nature of the priest’s death. There is a strange tower in the woods – the Devil’s Chair – around which human bones are discovered. There’s the Proceedings and Papers of the Society of Antiquaries, the records of a heretical movement. There’s a letter from a Prof Morgenstern, winner of the 1999 Nobel prize for “physic”, which notes that in the pre-Apocalyptic past “London existed at any moment only six meals removed from starvation” and that “society has reached a level of sophistication that renders it uniquely vulnerable to total collapse”. Sure enough, the Apocalypse hits in 2025, with thousands dying from previously preventable diseases, and more killed in brutal internecine wars.

There’s the echo …

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