My attention was caught by the cover of this book in the window of a local shop, and I had to buy it! Fiona J. Houston, aka 'The History Woman' took a year out of her writing/working life to step back into the 1790's and live as the wife of a schoolmaster would have lived, growing her own food, making her bannocks and porridge, living with none of the 'essentials' we take for granted in todays 'grab it and run' world. No water on tap, no electricity or central heating and definitely no junk food; rush candles and moonlight, a mattress stuffed with straw, and ink made from oak galls with which to write her diary provided her with her meagre but satisfying lot. And she accomplished the whole in period costume, made by herself!
This is an excellent read for anyone genuinely intrigued by the lives of ordinary folk from the past, containing recipes and receipts for many of the meals she lived on, for authentic writing materials ( quill pen nibs and that lovely ink! ) for wicks for lamps and even a pattern for making a 'sark' ( an undershift ).
There were a couple of times during the year when she 'cheated', but going to a musical recital on a bus in full 18th century dress without batting an eyelid seems almost irrelevant if such an anachronism made the other passengers give a thought to their own 'easy' lives. Nipping home to wash a bedsheet in her washing machine is, perhaps, less forgiveable, but given the circumstances ( it had blown off the washing line onto a molehill ) , I think we'd all take exactly the same action!
Illustrated with delicious woodcuts and sumptuous photographs, this would make a fantastic ( dare I say it? ) Christmas present for any friend into self-sufficiency, domestic history or country crafts. Or just buy it for yourself!