I've just emerged after spending the weekend with Father Tom - who lives near Liverpool. Tom, an ex-Ampleforth monk and now also an ordained priest, set up with a few other like-minded types here some thirty years ago. They built their own house, and established a community. Nowadays Tom is the last-remaining monk, although local people are welcomed and there are many regular visitors and residents. The house is heated by wood from the nearby forest, food is home-grown, there's no car, fridge, telephone or tv. I thought I'd love this frugal experience, but I didn't really. Tom's intentions are laudible - he does voluntary work for CAFOD and is committed to tackling climate change and world poverty. But his detachment from every day life made it hard for me to engage properly. It struck me that the sense of fun was missing! I spent one evening trying to darn one of Tom's jumpers - there's no denying he's chosen to live a frugal life - the jumper was falling to pieces and fixing it felt like a chore. But Tom's type of frugality didn't chime with mine. I realised that when I have to be frugal and there's no freedom about it, I don't enjoy it. It's one thing choosing to make do and mend - quite another to be forced to because of circumstances.