In my early twenties, in the late 1970s, I worked for a narrowboat company. One of the interesting aspects of the work (low pay, long hours for the besotted enthusiast) was the people I met and their lifestyles. Many were hippies, moving from boatyard to boatyard, often living on narrowboats; doing casual seasonal work, running camping boats,boat steering, a bit of carpentry, boat painting, signwriting. The ideal was to earn enough to get through the winter: to work to live not live to work. Is the seed of downshifting nestling in these memories or should I give my copies of Tolkien and Laurie Lee to a charity shop without delay?