Today I’m pleased to introduce my guest, Sue Fortin. She lives in the UK and is author and contributor today at Anneli’s Place. Sue and I both apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but they were taken a long time ago and thus fit with the story rather well.
Living the Good Life
UK television viewers of the 70s will, no doubt, remember the BBC sitcom ‘The Good Life’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/goodlife/ A quick summary for those who are unfamiliar with this sitcom: Tom and Barbara Good give up their middle-class trappings and adopt a sustainable, simple, and self-sufficient lifestyle without moving from their suburban home. They grow their own vegetables and fruit, and their garden becomes home to chickens, pigs, and a goat called Geraldine, much to the horror of their conservative neighbours, the Leadbetters.
My dad always worked in London. Wherever we lived he always commuted in. As fans of ‘The Good Life’ it seems my parents thought they would give it a go themselves and in the late 1970s moved us to a tiny and remote Fenland village in Cambridgeshire where our neighbours were either farmers or HGV drivers.
Three acres of the land that came with the bungalow we lived in was given over to growing barley. There was a paddock for my pony, and we rented out stables and use of the paddock to other horse owners.
One of the outbuildings became a free-range chicken house for approximately 150 chickens. My sister and I would go down to the barn in the mornings and rummage amongst the straw and roosting boxes to collect the day’s eggs. My mum would then box them and put them on a table in the conservatory where she sold them.
We had a huge vegetable garden and mini orchard. Strawberries, gooseberries, plums, apples, pears, and the like were all harvested, boxed, and sold. as was the jam my mum made from the produce.
Breadmaking was also a high on the ‘Good Life’ list. I remember we had to be careful when opening the airing cupboard as there would be tins and tins of dough ‘rising’ under a damp tea towel. Again, the bread was sold from our conservatory.
In those days, I really don’t think there were any particular food hygiene regulations that you had to comply with. Certainly, nobody in the village seemed to mind, probably due to the fact that there was only one shop which sold the very basics, closed at lunch-times, had half-day opening on Wednesdays and never opened on a Sunday. Grabbing a loaf of bread or some eggs from ‘the new people in the bungalow’ was convenience shopping 1970s style.
I look back on those days with fond memories. I wouldn’t say it was a bohemian childhood but living in The Fens afforded me a lot of freedom which I never experienced anywhere else we lived. As to what happened to my ‘Good Life’ parents, well, after a couple of years they sold up and moved to West Sussex where my mum then had a village shop and my dad continued to commute into London daily. I wonder if they had stopped watching ‘The Good Life’ and, at that point, were watching ‘Open All Hours’? http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/openallhours/
Sue Fortin was born in Potters Bar, Herts, but had a rather nomadic childhood, moving often with her family before finally settling in West Sussex, where she now lives on the south coast.
Before taking to writing seriously, Sue had various secretarial jobs, eventually settling as a PA at a high street bank for 13 years.
Having said goodbye to the world of banking to look after her family, Sue published her debut novel ‘United State of Love’ in 2012 and is currently working on her second book ‘Closing In’. Sue is a feature writer with the Lifestyle e-magazine Love A Happy Ending http://www.loveahappyending.com/
Links for United State of Love