Sustainability & Environment
The Garden Cottage Diaries
Fiona J. Houston
224 x 178mm, 224 pages, paperback
'It's a lovely book, and I strongly recommend it,' John-Paul Flintoff, The Times
'A riveting tale of a rather extraordinary journey,' Family History Monthly
Paperback edition View this on Amazon (UK) or Amazon US
Bemoaning the evils of the modern diet, Fiona J Houston was challenged to prove her claim that people ate better 200 years ago than they do today. Thus began an extraordinary experiment: for a full year, she immersed herself in the 1790s lifestyle of her rural ancestors. She wore home-made clothes, ate from her garden (frequently entertaining family and friends), learned lost crafts and skills, and endured dark, cold winter nights with only her fire and candles for warmth and light. Her quirky, lively and down-to-earth account is packed with history, folklore, facts, practical tips and curiosities.
Reviews and quotes:
"Done with great wit and intelligent determination... This is a calculated protest, in an ancient and honourable tradition going right back to Virgil's Georgics... 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
"Having recently stayed in the utterly unmodernised cottage that featured in the BBc's Victorian Farm series (and written about having no electricity, heating or water here) I was very excited to come across a new book in which another writer spent a whole year living in a rudimentary 18th century cottage in Scotland. The Garden & Cottage Diaries, by Fiona J Houston, are not only fascinating but beautifully produced with photographs and lino cuts by the great Clare Melinsky... It's a lovely book, and I strongly recommend it ." John-Paul Flintoff, The Times, 11 January 2010
"I've just read [The Garden Cottage Diaries] - non stop as it is such a pleasure. What a treat. It is so beautifully produced too; a real joy to hold as well as read.... Congratulations! [The writing is] clear, fluent, evocative, poetic and a vivid recreation of your place, emotions and style of life. I'm very interested in the relationship a writer builds with his/her reader and felt your book made the reader feel respected and included."
Kay Dunbar, Festival Director, Ways With Words Literary Festivals
"I couldn't put it down…" Sarah Palmer, Organic Garden & Home, March 2009
"Saraband has done the author proud: this book is an object of delight… If ever you needed an argument for the survival of the printed book, this is it." Sally Macpherson, Reforesting Scotland, Spring/Summer 2009
|“At times in the dead of night on my lumpy straw mattress and unable to sleep for the saughing of the wind, I asked myself ‘Am I completely bonkers?’ But I had committed to a year, and dressing up in the clothes – as crazy as that might seem – actually was a constant reminder of what I was trying to achieve. My friends reserved all comment as they ate the homemade soups from my kitchen garden, until one said, 'You've lost about a stone and your hands are red raw. Aren't you tempted to quit?'|
978-1-887354-77-6 (Note: cased edition is now out of print)
Authentic recipes and seasonal menus
Gardening hints and nature and wildlife log through the seasons
How to make quills, string, ale & cheese
Detailed breakdown of how she lived on a few pounds per week!
How sustainability, thrift and sharing are intertwined in the quest for a better life.
Photos, engravings, and beautiful linocuts by Clare Melinsky
Fiona J. Houston is an educationalist, museum researcher, feature journalist, grandmother and campaigner for healthier, sustainable lifestyles and a greener, cleaner world. A former schoolteacher, she is also an avid amateur historian, collector of junk-shop curiosities, an accomplished cook and an experienced gardener who has been self-sufficient from her garden for two decades.
Fiona has appeared at popular meet-the-author events in Keswick (at Words by the Water festival), Glasgow (Aye Write literary festival), Edinburgh, Oban, Banchory, Wigtown, Dartington and many other places, with audiences asking a questions on a wide range of topics, from Transition Towns to health and gardening advice. See our video of 'Garden Cottage Diaries on Tour', which features these events and includes an interview with Patrick Harvie (Green Party MSP) and Patrick Cave-Browne, Fiona's tutor in kindling fire the 18th-century way. Fiona has also appeared at several branches of Borders and at independent bookshops including Yeadons of Elgin & Banchory and Latimer Books, Kelso. There are still more opportunities to meet Fiona at various events. Keep an eye on our news page and Twitter feed for the latest information.