The photos show how basically they had really lived - the little spring where they went for water was little more than a wet spot in a wilderness back in 1963. A later (1977) photo shows the author sat waiting for her bucket to fill. We have a spring here, but it is quite a rumbustious one and provided something like 2,000 gallons in one working day when the men came to line the bottom inglenook chimney with volcanic ash (mixed with water). Another photograph shows the author giving her husband a shower in the garden using a watering can. We have done basic here, but never quite THAT basic . . .
But then, they had more success at growing some things than I ever did. I have yet to grow a decent onion - I know, I am doing SOMETHING wrong, as they don't even grow from sets with me, but I can grow a half-decent leek when I try hard enough. It was interesting to read again how successful their gooseberry bushes were, even though they looked like the illustrations in their gardening books of just how a gooseberry bush should NOT look! You could ignore them totally bar a little judicious pruning once they had been picked, but year after year they delivered huge amounts of fruit. Mine are the same.
I'll add to this in the morning, with a couple of extracts from the book. It has been a real trip down memory lane reading bits of it again but golly-gosh, I thought we lived hand-to-mouth. They mention at the end not even having the money to spare for a stamp . . .
Here is the first page of the "Garden in the Hills" book:
" 'The trouble with you,' said Alan, 'is that you just don't concentrate.
I eased my aching insteps one at a time from the rung of the ladder, and reflected upon his remark. Last night's snowstorm had now abated and we were mending the shippen roof. Leastways, Alan was mending the roof, I was standing on top of a ladder and holding the end of another ladder which lay up the slope of the roof and supported him and his tools, a pile of slates and some wire netting. My arms, stretched upwards and clasping the sides of his ladder, were numb with the cold. A bitter wind laced with snow and occasional hailstones lashed at my exposed wrists and face. Occasional gobbets of icy snow and bits of broken slate hurtled down the roof and straight into my gaping coat sleeves. I was shivering, aching and bad-tempered. I couldn't see what concentration had to do with it. 'If you'd fixed the damned roof in the summer we wouldn't be spending Christmas Day doing this!' I snarled back.
It was an unfair retort. I knew perfectly well that during fine summer days there were other things to do - like repointing the chimney-stack,lime-washing the south-west facing front of the cottage, repainting doors and window frames, repairing fences, cutting thistles and earning a living. It wasn't as though the shippen was needed to shelter cows. It contained stacks of timber, fencing wire, slates, useful junk and a quantity of packing cases whose contents have been partially investigated since we moved here from Bristol thirteen years ago. The only livestock using the shippen these days are a roosting blackbird, an occasional nesting wren and a colony of field-mice who make cosy nests each year in a packing case of old Tatler magazines. There is little danger of a population explosion amongst our township of field-mice, because during the winter months a polecat moves in from the moors and makes short work of the Tatlerville residents. This nicely balanced community of wildlife is welcome to the facilities of our shippen, but has to be content with premises that are but roughly patched up as and when necessary."