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The Garden Cottage Diaries: My Year in the Eighteenth Century Hardcover – Illustrated, 26 Feb 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Saraband (Scotland) Ltd (26 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887354662
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887354660
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 2.5 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 457,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

It's hard now to imagine living without heat and power at the flick of a switch, and food and clothing obtainable off the self in return merely for driving to the shop to collect them. Not so long ago everything we ate and owned had to be grown and made from scratch, or we starved and froze. With peak oil in our sights, these days could be on the way back. Those of us who followed The History WOman's monthly columns have some idea what this experience might entail. Now, thanks to her book, we can gain clearer understanding of all the physical and mental effort involved. Vegetables grown without help of modern tools or products, water drawn from an outside tap, wood for fuel gathered or chopped. ... Despite the hardship, there are so many positive lessions to be learnt and so much that can be reintroduced into our 21st-century life. Saraband, the publisher, has done the author proud: this book is an object of delight. As well as the text, there are handwritten diary entries, woodcuts, photographs, nature notes and recipes. It's a fascinating and colourful scrapbook. If ever you needed an argument for the survival of the printed book, this is it. Sally Macpherson --Reforesting Scotland issue 39, Spg/Summer 2009<br /><br />I've just read [The Garden Cottage Diaries] - non stop as it is such a pleasure. What a treat. It is so beautifully produced; a real joy to hold as well as read. .. [The writing] is so beautiful: clear, fluent, evocative, poetic and a vivid recreation of place, emotions and style of life. I'm very interested in the relationship a writer builds with his/her reader and felt [this book] made the reader feel respected and included. --Kay Dunbar, Festival Director, Ways With Words<br /><br />Fiona Houston writes with a light and wry humour... As an entirely intriguing experiment in experiencing the raw past of life in the Borders. I hope this essay will sell widely and for many years to come. --Southern Reporter, 26/2/09

Fiona Houston, a Scottish museum researcher... contacted me in 2004, having read my book on the ills of the industrial food system, Not On the Label, to tell me it had inspired her to live the life of her pre-industrial ancestors. The Garden Cottage Diaries: My Year in the Eighteenth Century is the result. It's a sumptuously produced book about self-imposed deprivation. Its still-life photos of her cottage and vegetable garden evoke a simplicity that is more like something from an interiors magazine than a vision of grim subsistence. But it's all done with great wit and intelligent determination. Houston, having swaddled herself for the 12 months in layers of heavy, home-made wool clothes, describes life without electricity, running water or the motor car. Growing enough to eat turns out to be hard work, but not impossible. Walking everywhere is liberating. Being permanently cold and damp, however, is more of a challenge. ... This is not so much the romantic delusion Freidberg fears food campaigners now suffer from, but a calculated protest, in an ancient and honourable tradition going right back to Virgil's Georgics The answer to our current crisis - global warming, growing fears about food security, the social injustice embedded in the food system - lies not in an anti-modern backlash, as shown by Freidberg's reminders of how food production has changed. But there is still a place for Houston's type of exercise in self-denial. Questioning the nature of progress and how far material sustenance is necessary to happiness is a sane response in a relentlessly consuming and resource-depleted world. --Felicity Lawrence, The Guardian, 2 May 2009

Fiona Houston writes with a light and wry humour... As an entirely intriguing experiment in experiencing the raw past of life in the Borders. I hope this essay will sell widely and for many years to come. --Southern Reporter, 26/2/09

Synopsis

Presents the story of the author's year re-creating the lifestyle of her 1790s ancestor in a basic one-roomed cottage, eating home-grown produce and surviving on her own resources - making household items herself and dressing in period clothing. This title includes gardening info, menus, recipes, nature notes.

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