The Simpler Life: Southsea head of nursing wants to go back to 'fantastic experience' of living an Amish life on Channel 4 show

SCRAPPING digital luxuries can be hard for many, but for one Southsea family, it was an enlightening experience.

Sunday, 27th March 2022, 4:55 am

Andrew Talbot-New and his family abandoned modern life to live like the Amish during a Channel 4 documentary, The Simpler Life.

Along with his partner Garry, 51, and two adopted children, Ki, 12, and Tommy, seven, entered a social experiment where 24 British people had to live without technology.

Mr Talbot-New, 54, had to embrace living off the land, without electricity and gas, but said it was a worthwhile venture.

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Andrew Talbot-New, along with his husband Garry and two adopted children, Ki and Tommy, lived in an Amish community during a Channel 4 documentary The Simpler Life. Picture: Channel 4/Five Mile Productions.

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He told The News: ‘It was a massive learning curve for all of us.

‘We all had different experiences, my other half struggled with it a little bit – but it was an amazing experience.’

The head of nursing at Frimley Health NHS Trust added the whole family had to take on tasks they had never done before.

Washing laundry with a mangle, tending crops in a field, horse riding, and craft making were some of the things the Portsmouth family had to learn.

It was particular a life changing experience for the children, who had been so used to modern luxuries.

Mr Talbot-New said both of them wouldn’t go back, as ‘they missed their Playstation a lot’, but said they adapted well to learning how to ride horses and other aspects of Amish life.

He added: ‘I thought it was a fantastic experience for them because they haven’t had a good start to life being in the social care system.

‘It was lovely they were able to run wild a little bit.

‘It didn’t seem to affect them as much as it did me and my husband.’

Many challenges faced the family while they were in the Devon countryside.

Both Andrew and his husband struggled with the lack of laid out plans and rules, as Garry used to hold a senior position in the armed forces.

The generational gap between the contestants was also an issue.

Mr Talbot-New said he got on with most of the community, even though some of the younger people ‘can’t knock a nail in a piece of wood’.

A central pot of £2,000 was used by the community to buy supplies, and arguments often broke out over what luxuries people wanted.

Mr Talbot-New said one contestant, Penny Kasicki, 44, ‘caused a lot of anxiety’ in the group in the first two episodes currently aired.

He described her as a ‘Gemma Collins’ type character who ‘put the community into disrepute and went around causing mayhem’ – particularly when she claimed there was nothing to eat, despite having a pantry full of tinned vegetables and pasta.

The 54-year-old said: ‘She could not get her head around it at all, and it caused a lot of anxiety.

‘She sucked the life out of the place, as she continually moaned and whinged about everything.’

Despite these struggles, Mr Talbot-New would go back to the Amish way of life if asked – although his family wouldn’t agree.

He is planning on retiring from the NHS after 37 years, as the experience opened him up to a more relaxed world.

He said: ‘We had quality time together as a family, which probably took me back to days when I was a kid and with my grandparents.

‘We didn’t have any interruptions that we have to go through in modern life.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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