The 'Victorian Farm' series with its re-creation of a Victorian working farm was a must-see TV programme for me, and indeed, was one of BBC 2's biggest hits.
As I write this, the 'Edwardian Farm' series has just started and I couldn't resist temptation, I had to buy the book.
It's wonderful - packed full of detail about Edwardian rural life, not just on the farm, but further afield.
Peter, Ruth and Alex are first-class historians, first and foremost, and this book, written by all three of them refers to many of the contemporary resources that they used to ensure that the Edwardian farm was as accurate as possible.
As with the Victorian Farm, their experiences are completely hands-on, using expert knowledge and specialist advisors. They walked the walk, as well as talking the talk - scraping a hide at a tannery, going out on a fishing trawler without the benefit of modern fish-finders.
Setting the Edwardian Farm near the Devon-Cornwall coast was a stroke of genius, as it enables a much wider picture of rural life than was possible in the Victorian Farm's landlocked Shropshire - and gave the hard-working team a day out at the seaside.
The emphasis on the Edwardian farmer's need to diversify, whilst still making a profit is far more of a focus in this book than on the Victorian farm. It's a wonder our heroes didn't feel swamped by all their projects - a trout hatchery, a market garden, rearing farm stock, making their own quicklime.
There are recipes of the period, provided by Ruth and the stories behind some of them - the heroism commemorated by Stargazy Pie for example. This is the story of Tom Bawcock of Mousehole, who saved the community from starvation by putting to sea in dreadful weather and bringing home a record catch. Clearly the brave men of the Penlee lifeboat had forebears made of the same stuff.
The book is also beautifully designed- each of the trio has their own diaries running throughout the book which appear on many of the pages to complement the information given and to give their own personal insights.
This ensures that the information is so much more than just dry facts. The book is absolutely packed with line drawings and stills from the TV programme, which add so much to it.
This wealth of information is presented in large chapters under different categories - The Farm, One Foot on the Land, One Foot in the Sea, Leisure and Relaxation, Domestic Life and finally, Local Industry and is comprehensively indexed. There are a few minor typos -'rights' for 'rites' for example - but nothing to spoil the enjoyment of the book.
For anyone interested in social history and/or the Edwardian period, this book is an absolute must. Anyone who enjoyed Victorian Farm will find this even more enjoyable and a more in-depth evocation of an era.
This is one book I will never part with. The information can never date and will still enthrall me many years hence I am sure. Very highly recommended.