Nat and Tallulah stood, hand in hand, on the edge of their biodynamic vegetable garden, gazing out at the eco-utopia that they had created in the foothills of the Black Mountains. Somewhere, several feet beneath their feet, their geothermal pump was busy transferring heat to and from the earth. Having warmed their black-rubber-clad, triple-glazed, reconfigured shepherd’s cottage all through the winter, it was now busy cooling it through summer.
The light was beginning to fade and they would soon return inside for a vegetarian, homegrown supper before going to bed with the sun. These days, they existed entirely in tune with the diurnal rhythm. With its fluid, sculptural, white interiors, the house was so bright during the day that they barely needed to turn the lights on at all, and their domestic UV water filtration system meant that the little water they did use – they’d taken up showering together three times a week – was as pure and clean as the nearby underground spring from which it was sourced.
Since making the decision to unplug entirely, Nat and Tallulah had never been happier. Despite what their diesel-burning, red-meat-guzzling friends said, they were not jumping on the Attenborough bandwagon. In fact, they had always had highly developed ecological consciences; while the rest of their have-it-all generation were busy Baby Booming, they had only had one child – their beloved son, Logan. (And no, this wasn’t anything to do with school fees or a reluctance to move out of their bijou two-bedroom mews house in Holland Park.) After all, only two people as passionate about the environment as they were would have named their only child after a giant raspberry.
“I can’t wait to see him tomorrow,” whispered Tallulah, as they drifted off to sleep at 9pm. With a PhD in mineral processing from Imperial College under his belt, Logan was coming to spend a few weeks to help with their rewilding project.
“I think he’s going to be really excited by all we’ve done here,” said Nat, who was particularly proud they had broken the mould of passive design (which, it turned out, was an architectural commitment to conserving natural resources and not sitting back and doing the crossword while their architect, Gawain, had all the bright ideas). Not only that, but they were also frontrunners in microgeneration – which, to those who don’t do eco-speak, means that they had effectively (with the help of several solar panels and two wind turbines) transformed their home into a small-scale power station, with enough leftover energy to bequeath to their closest community.
Life couldn’t really get much better, or more rewarding – well, until Tesla got round to marketing a full-blooded off-roader – and all they wished was that they had abandoned their plastic-coated, air-freighted existence much, much sooner.
By the time Logan arrived at lunchtime the following day, Nat and Tallulah – rising with the dawn, naturally – had been up for seven and a half hours, and had laid out a beautiful, homegrown feast on the cantilevered decking. If either of them was phased by the diesel-billowing Mercedes he was driving – perhaps he hadn’t seen their email about electric-car hire? – they didn’t let on. They were delighted to see him, and loved listening to his tales of high achievement and late-night parties over a couple of bottles of sulphite-free British sparkling wine.
As the sun began its descent, the talk turned to Logan’s plans for the future.
“Well,” he said, slightly awkwardly. “I actually have some very exciting news.”
“Oh?” said his parents, who had agreed, during a whispered conversation in the kitchen, not to be judgemental about the fact that the clothes their son was wearing didn’t appear to be made from bamboo.
Logan took a deep breath. “I have been offered an amazing job with AIM, which is pretty exciting, as it’s one of the world’s best multinational mining corporations.”
Nat and Tallulah looked at him, fixed grins on their faces. “Even more exciting than that… it’s in Australia!”
Tallulah began to sob.
“Oh please don’t be sad, Mum,” pleaded Logan. “The company offers a really good air-miles deal, so we can fly back and forth to see each other all the time!”