When your home is on this tiny clearing in the middle of the Swedish forest surrounded by miles of trees, you know a thing or two about self isolation.
Brit Will Dean, 40, and his wife Emilia, 42, bought the 3.5 acre clearing in the middle of a Swedish forest 11 years ago and moved there full time in 2012.
It had no access road and their self-built home 90 minutes north of Gothenburg can only be reached along a winding tree-lined dirt road, weather – and moose – permitting.
A twice-monthly trip to the one shop in their nearest town – which is 30 minutes drive away – sees them have to take a chainsaw in case they come across a fallen tree.
So for Will it’s much easier to be as self sufficient as he can be – with water from his self-dug 110m well, potatoes from the veg patch and wood from trees around his home.
The successful crime writer and his lawyer wife work from home – in separate wooden huts – meeting in the middle for lunch, when work permits.
Along with his six-year-old son Alfred, he has a massive Norwegian forest cat called Monty and Bernie the Saint Bernard for company.
Apart from bears and wolves, their nearest neighbour is two miles away, and before they had a child, he’d frequently go for a month without seeing anyone apart from his wife.
But he admits remote living and working isn’t always easy.
And while confined Brits in the UK might not need his advice on how to keep moose off their carrots – his tips on entertaining your kids in isolation might prove useful.
He advised working on long term projects with your little ones to keep them busy and said growing things – even cress on the windowsill – can make a difference.
The couple have a ‘pause word’ to use to indicate it’s time to take a moment away from each other to stop pointless cabin fever arguments.
And he stressed you don’t need endless trips to the shop or bulk buying to feed your family – simple, easy to store staple basics can feed you for weeks on end.
Will, who grew up in towns cross the Midlands, said: “We’re kind of set up for this so life hasn’t changed for us at all.
“It’s very quiet and isolated.
“I think most people wouldn’t want to live here, including most Swedish people, who wouldn’t be able to go to a coffee shop.
“But we’re used to it, and really like it.
“We aren’t totally off grid, but we almost are.
“When you see that photograph, it feels as remote as it looks. It feels like being in the middle of Alaska or Siberia.
“In reality, we’re a half hour drive from a small town with a shop.
“Of course, that’s on a good day with good weather and if there are no trees you have to chain saw to clear the track.
“It’s 15 minute drive to a road and you never know what you are going to face when you leave.”
Will met his Swedish wife when they were both living in London, and they moved into a small flat, and he worked in IT.
But he dreamed of a quiet and cheap place to live while he write novels.
The pair scoured the Swedish equivalent of Rightmove for a plot of land to call their own.
And unlike the other ads which boasted charming log cabins, ready made veg plots and paddocks, the chose one “no other Swedes wanted”.
“It had no services to boast of so the advert was all about berries and wild mushrooms and butterflies,” he said.
“The real estate agent stopped and parked half an hour walk from the spot and we had to hike in from there.
“We found a clearing with a hut. I fell in love instantly.”
Water comes from an 110m deep well with a pump at the bottom and tastes “a bit like screws” because it’s full of iron.
They are at the very end of the electricity line so power is available, but unpredictable, thanks to frequent cuts – so they also have solar and hydro power.
While they went without a TV for four years, they have one now and even have Netflix and love audiobooks, listened to on gadgets charged by nearby water.
The nearest town has around 5,000 residents, a single shop, a lumber yard, bakery and a church.
Their six-year-old son attends a forest school – a pre-school deep within the trees.
He said when he arrives to pick him up, he’ll often find the kids all lined up in waterproofs, after an outdoor adventure, being hosed down by the teacher.
“It’s tough, but it’s 2020 and I feel so lucky I’m not doing this in 1920,” he said.
“I’ve got internet and chainsaws.
“I try to live a fairly seasonal life.
“In winter my work is clearing snow, making sure we can get in and out.
“The rest of the year I am cutting wood manically to make sure the stocks are good enough to get through the winter.
“I’m clearing ditches, growing veg, foraging and storing what we have.”
Will stores his dried goods in big plastic storage boxes out of the way of mice – and is assisted by his massive forest cat.
He added: “Tinned food usually has an expiry date of two years, but really it can last ten plus years if it’s properly stored.
“If you are in isolation, the best thing to do is not buy ready meals. Buy simple basics. A 2-3 kilo bag of rice and a good few tins of soup will get you through weeks and weeks.
“A few tins of tomatoes and some pasta makes a basic spaghetti. Add a big tub of herbs or chilli flakes to your list and it’s all the better.”
He said maintaining contact with loved ones and friends is vital.
“Sometimes when you are isolated or worried and don’t feel like reaching out to people, sometimes checking in on other people to check they are ok, can make you feel better,” he said.
“If you live with you your partner, come up with a ‘pause word’.
“Emilia and I realised after about six months of living in the middle of nowhere, you have arguments because you are only seeing each other.
“As much as you care for each other, it’s good to have that pause word that means that when you sense things getting out of control and you are taking out your frustrations on your spouse, it triggers to have a breather.
“Stuff doesn’t escalate because of real grievances – it’s because you haven’t got anyone else to talk to.
“If there are only two of you ad you can’t go to the bed, or talk to friends, or go out and cool off, if there is two of you in your flat or house, you need a pressure release valve.”
He admits entertaining kids when you can’t get out and about is tricky.
“One of the best things you can do is make or grow something together,” he said.
“It’s a long term project and something you can all get involved in.
“And in isolation it doesn’t have to be big. It can be herbs on your windowsill or cress.
“If you have a terraced house with some space it can be carrots or potatoes, and if you have a garden, if could be a veg patch.
“It’s something you all look after, and it yields results later in the year. Everyone feels involved.
“Keeping them entertained in close quarters is so so hard. I think someone needs to give me tips on that.
“My advice would be give yourself a break.
“If you do snap at your kid, get over it. Have a hug, talk and explain in the right way what’s going on.
“Try to put in place some sort of structure so they know what to expect during the day.
“And make sure you share the childcare responsibilities.
Will is the author of a series of crime books featuring deaf reporter Tuva Moodyson.