On my recent trips to Slovenia I have found many things to admire about this small country. This is a nation with an embarrassment of natural riches including glorious mountain scenery, crystal clear rivers and unspoilt forests. There are also many pretty historic towns and villages to explore but one of the most impressive things about this lovely country is the level of self-sufficiency many of the people still manage to maintain.
In rural areas there is very much a culture of producing one’s own food where possible and using the natural resources at hand. Most homes have fruit and vegetables growing in the garden and the open spaces are occupied by cattle, goats, chickens and sheep. Small farms produce delicious cheeses and cured meats and people seem very keen to make their own preserves. I also saw many women out picking wild salad leaves and berries to take home and so there is clearly much less reliance on supermarket produce than in the UK.
On one occasion after a rather fine day horse riding I visited my guide’s house where he plied me with his home made schnapps and then showed me numerous salamis hanging in his cellar which he had made himself. I have to say these were absolutely delicious. He was also producing his own vinegars for salad dressings. In fact his home was a little cottage industry in the midst of a small village.
The advantages of this lifestyle are very clear. Not only do these people know where there food is coming from and how it is produced, they can also make things to their own taste and save a lot of money. I bet everything tastes much better than the supermarket offerings too! I was really inspired to grow my own food and to use the natural resources around me such as they are in urban Berkshire!
There was something more earthy and practical about the Slovenian lifestyle in general. Their homes are unfussy inside and out with simple decorative schemes and an emphasis on functionality. They seem to be able to occupy smaller spaces than us without being buried under clutter and despite the practical nature of their homes they still feel comfortable and look attractive. There is a Scandinavian feel about the lifestyle as the kitchens are stocked with what looks like Nordic homeware and every room boasts clean lines and simple colour schemes.
I feel totally inspired to change my ways after visiting Slovenia. I want to grow at least some of my own food, make more of the things I use and create a more harmonious and simple home to live in. The Slovenian lifestyle is much more focussed on the outdoors and how to both enjoy it and use it to your advantage. The people seem more interested in tending to their vegetables and collecting eggs from their chickens than watching the next episode of a soap opera and their lives are much richer for it.
Article By Sally Stacey