Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Urban Dreams Rural Realities. Book review.

I'm back. A bit of an argybargy going on in previous posts, eh. I leave you a few hours and look what happens. I'll go back and read the comments again, and add a few of my own. In the meantime, here is the book review.
I really enjoyed this book, if anyone is thinking of going down the self sufficiency route this book is a must read. It is a diary of a year in the lives of Dan and Bel, who were dissatisfied with the direction their lives were going, and made the change from city to countryside. They sold up their London flats and bought a remote and dilapidated farmhouse in Mid Wales. 
Dan was far more enthusiastic to embrace this new lifestyle than Bel, she wanted to give up many times. Slowly she also began to enjoy her surroundings, and got on with the job of growing vegetables, with gusto. The story is told in contrasting voices by each of the pair in turn, there is plenty of humour in it. Dan's ludicrous optimism is totally the opposite to Bel's pessimism.

They start by growing vegetables, catching and eating wild rabbits, then they buy ducks and an assortment of poultry, and two pigs which they reared for food. Any vegetarians might not like to read their emotional accounts of how the pigs were turned into food for the table.

As the story unfolds there are accounts of Dan's falconry, rats living in the roof space, how they turned tons of apples into juice and cider, foraging for mushrooms, dispatching the ducks for food, and salmon poaching in the middle of the night. Their son is born half way through the book which puts another dimension on things. At the end of the book they quickly fast forward a few years and a daughter is born.

A thoroughly interesting and entertaining story, and very well written, A joy to read.
Toodle pip.


  1. That sounds a good read Ilona. Thank you.

  2. Hi Ilone. Thought you might like this recipe. We are not vegetarian so use leftover lamb or pork thinly sliced.
    In dish put layer of sliced mild onions, layer with hard boiled egg slices and/or grated cheese, top with tinned tomatoes. Add gravy, sliced potatoes, a smear of oil or grated cheese. I make it ahead and cook with something else as it needs a long bake until the top is crisp and it melts together. You could use mashed pots under and over as a change. Delish and moreish. Del

  3. Have ordered this from the Library, look forward to reading it, thank Ilona

  4. That looks great. I loved The Good Life as a kid!! :)

  5. Hi Ilona. This looks interesting. Self sufficiency and resourcefulness is a fascinating subject. Will try and get a copy.

  6. That book sounds like the sort of read I`d enjoy. Must see if I can get it from my library.

  7. Get lost Mr Thomas Smith, we don't need no advertising.

    Excuse my language on your blog Ilona, but honestly, nowhere are we safe from unwanted spam these days!

  8. Thank you Maria. Mr Smith has taken a running jump, as do all my spammers. (cue flushing toilet, ha ha)

  9. Found this book selling for 1p the other day, a bargain, so I treated myself. I have just read the first chapter and if it continues to be as well written, I KNOW I'm going to enjoy it. Like the author I have been devouring the contents of Gerald Seymours book of self sufficiency for more years than I care to remember, ha ha.
    I'm 60 now, and I still dream of a smallholding in the back of beyond. Instead, I read your blog and try to be as frugal as I can. It's as close as I can get I reckon. Thanks for all the hints and tips, Ilona. My day starts with a cup of tea, and your latest posting!

  10. Dear MQ - thanks for your kind wishes the other day. I enjoyed your book review. I lead a very simple life (no central heating, no hot water (I boil a kettle to wash in)and only have two electric rings to cook on (although I have bought a microwave with combination facility). Admittedly, though, I have to move within 3 months and so my next place will have heating etc but think that I won't bother with it. I buy fruit/veg from local market but "top up" with reduced stuff from supermarkets. I grow mint for mint tea (I guzzle hot drinks all day to keep me warm) and still have salad leaves to pick. I flavour all my home cooked stuff with parsley. I always pick roadside blackerries every Autumn and, as the harvest was not so good this year, I have put them in brandy and will give bottles to my Mum and Dad for Christmas pressies. Yesterday, saw a box of Bramley apples by the roadside - free to anyone! I much prefer a degree of self sufficiency than buying it all in from vast supermarkets and shopping centres. Natalie

  11. Oh, thanks Ilona. I'm glad you didn't mind me telling him where to go!


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