Monday, 9 January 2017

Plough Monday, Book Review and other stuff

 Did you know that today, being the first Monday after Twelfth Night, was traditionally called Plough Monday. This was the  the start of the agricultural year, the day Ploughman and their horses went back to work after their Christmas and New Year break...... usually their only holiday of the year.
Nowadays fields are not often ploughed every year, just rough cultivated straight after harvest and drilled immediately  after that or even at the same time.When we used to have barley straw small baled for bedding we were often in a race to get the bales done and home before the farmer cultivated! If sugar beet is in a farms crop rotation then the fields will be ploughed that year because the beet harvest compresses the soil .

Mentioned this book below the other day and had a comment from Anonymous asking for a review. It is a new book, published in 2016.
Anne was in her late 20's and working in London when she holidayed on Skye in 1989 and spotted an ad in an Estate Agents window for a primitive cottage for sale on Soay.
She'd not even thought about moving and even less to a tiny island, in fact she didn't even realise it was an island and accessible only by small boat!
Although she went back to London without finding out more, the picture of the cottage nagged away at her until she finally arranged to go and see it.

The book covers the years 1990 to 1998 in detail, her naivety as she moved there and how she was helped by other islanders........there were 17 permanent residents when she arrived. She finds out about the history of Soay and crofting, struggles with refurbishing the cottage and lack of cash. She finds a way to earn money by collecting winkles and buys a boat of her own. Several of the islanders pass away or move away over the years until the  winter of 2000 when she would be left almost on her own.
In her early years on Soay the island was used for army manoeuvres and a she met a civilian photographer Robert Cholawo who always came with the men. She began to rely on him for advice and help and when his marriage broke up they corresponded until she went to stay with him in Devon for the winter of 2001 moving back to the island again in the spring.
The years from their marriage in 2002 to 2016  are covered in just a couple of chapters. Maybe she'll write another book to tell more about how Robert bought and modernised the neighbouring house on Soay and their story up to date. They now have their own hydro electric power and keep goats and grow  a lot of vegetables. Climate change means that winter weather now is much windier and they are unable to leave the island for months at a time so have to stock up with coal, animal feed and everything else they need to last a long time.
A good read  but I was left wanting to know more..
 One thing I discovered while reading was that a couple called Comber rented a cottage on the island in the 1960's and the lady wrote several lovely books under the name of Lilian Beckwith. I'd always wondered how near to biography her books were ( A Loud Halo, The Sea for Breakfast, A Rope in Case etc) and it turns out Not at All! 

On Saturday I actually found something in the sales
Had a trip out to Felixstowe as they are another place with The Works and I was still searching for the 4 in a box game. (have come to conclusion The Works in our area didn't stock these as they had lots of the other wooden games but not that one and had no idea what I was talking about - just like the lady in Ipswich branch but Suzanne at Life at Number 38 has found it for me 'up North', she's a star!)
Anyway Felixstowe also has an Original Factory Shop like Saxmundham and that's where, last year, I got the shred and cellophane for the Christmas Hampers. Luckily they just had a few packs left reduced from £2 to £1 again so 2  purchased plus on the counter they were selling off the final few boxes of 10 Christmas Crackers for £1. I bought one. That's my January Sale shopping done!

We thought we had better get some quotes for removal companies, so we can get boxes and start packing. 3 quotes  varied by nearly £400 - how on earth can one man look round and decide they can do it for £700 and another says it will cost over £1000? I pointed out to the man from the company who moved me in that  he'd charged us £200 extra last March when his was the only company available after other arrangements with firms fell through because of changed dates. I think he looked slightly sheepish and has priced it  less than our move here. The lads were really good in March so we'll probably go with them again - this time they weren't the most expensive.

Welcome to a new follower.........a nice round 450 now.........goodness me. Thank you for all the comments for and against Yellow Sticker shopping.

Back in a jiffy
From that first visit, once I had set foot on Soay the house no longer became my primary obsession, but merely a means to an end. I had never experienced a place like it in my life. After only 10 minutes on the island I had fallen under its unfathomable, magical and enthralling spell. Unbelievably, I had found my longed-for childhood “middle of nowhere” and apparently, completely by accident.

Read more at:

From that first visit, once I had set foot on Soay the house no longer became my primary obsession, but merely a means to an end. I had never experienced a place like it in my life. After only 10 minutes on the island I had fallen under its unfathomable, magical and enthralling spell. Unbelievably, I had found my longed-for childhood “middle of nowhere” and apparently, completely by accident

Read more at:
From that first visit, once I had set foot on Soay the house no longer became my primary obsession, but merely a means to an end. I had never experienced a place like it in my life. After only 10 minutes on the island I had fallen under its unfathomable, magical and enthralling spell. Unbelievably, I had found my longed-for childhood “middle of nowhere” and apparently, completely by accident

Read more at:


  1. I LOVE interesting facts like that one - Plough Monday. How fabulous :)

  2. Sounds like my kind of book. I think I'd love island life but my wife would never go for it!

  3. Oh that book sounds right up my street, i may have to hunt it out, we currently live in lancashire but are planning to move back to where im from in 4 years, the Isle Of Wight, i cant wait to get back to island life, give me a small place up on the beach side or even hill top ..cant wait
    sammie xx

    1. We had our honeymoon in 1979 on IOW - in a tent! Only been back twice since - sadly. Had loads of holidays in Sandown in the 60's - loved it

    2. wowzer, i was born in 79, and lived in Sandown for years, we cant wait to move back.
      sammie xx

  4. I like the sound of that book so thank you for the's gone on my list-x-

  5. That book sounds good, and I used to read a lot of Lillian Beckworths books back in the day.

    450 is a god round number .... watch someone else click Follow and turn it into 451 ;-)

  6. Will join the others on the book front, I have never come across Plough Monday before.

  7. Yes, the sugar beet here was harvested and then seemingly reseeded immediately, as far as I could make out on my running trips

  8. Great fact at the beginning there - did not know that! The book sounds really interesting. So brave of that lady.

    Glad you found the game you wanted. It's interesting how the stock varies from one Works to another. I love that shop. They have lots of crafty goodies. I didn't realise they had moved all of the craft stuff upstairs at the Ipswich branch until I ventured up there one day.

  9. Because I have had some bad experiences, I think it is best to stick with a vendor you know has done a good job when moving.

  10. I hate moving companies-they always hold you hostage-won't move furniture in to the house until they get paid then impossible to get any money back if they damage anything. Groceries come to our location by boat so bad weather means a no show. Fortunately it is no more than a week usually.

  11. I loved reading Lilian Beckwith's books.
    The Hills is Lonely.

  12. I used to love Lilian Beckwith's books - what a shame they don't appear to be that based on fact!

    I think I will request Island on the Edge from our travelling library, as it looks right up my street. It must be very difficult to live on an island with an ever-decreasing population though.

    My daughter (eldest) is in the process of moving in with her boyfriend at the moment, so each weekend it spent taking her belongings across to his house. I hope you can get your move sorted and sensibly priced.

  13. I did not know about Plough Monday, but I like it.

  14. The book sounds lovely. I must keep my eye open for it.

    God bless.

  15. Thankyou so much for the review and, like other, sounds right up my street too! I made a little money winkle picking for a few months nearly 40 years ago, oh boy it's harder than you think. Freezing hands despite wearing wool gloves under the rubber ones and having to follow the tides, sometimes getting out of bed at 4am. Glad I don't have to do it now, I couldn't even fancy eating them! Just found Beachcomber cottage by Monty Halls at the charity shop so looking forward to that. Sorry for not leaving my name before it's Tam.

  16. I will see if I can request the book in my local library. Judging on the comments I may have to wait a bit lol

  17. Glad things seem to be working out according to plan with Col's illness. As to the house move - they never seem to go to plan but usually work out right in the end = so good luck on both counts.


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