Friday, 26 October 2012

Wartime Farm ~ Peter Ginn, Ruth Goodman & Alex Langlands ~ review




Accompanying the eight-part BBC series that follows Edwardian Farm and Victorian Farm, Wartime Farm finds the show's presenters Peter Ginn, Ruth Goodman and Alex Langlands exploring a fascinating period in Britain's history as they spend a year living on a reconstructed farm from the World War II era. The wonderful hardback will help give you an insight into how our predecessors lived and thrived in difficult conditions and also offer practical advice on how to grow your own vegetables, how to keep chickens in your garden and how to live self sufficiently. Fascinating historical detail and the presenters' atmospheric storytelling make this a compelling read for fans of the hit television programme.

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Could this series and book be more up my street? Wartime? Farming? Cosy jumpers, tweed and sturdy shoe fashion galore? Recipes? History? 

In short, no.

I was kindly asked by Octopus Publishing to review this book and after about a nano-second of deliberation, said YES indeedy! I have also reviewed this for Queens of Vintage. Tis a hard life.

So, what did I make of it? I opened it up and smiled. A lot. After just flicking through to look at the abundance of photos, all printed on a nice matt, vintage effect paper, I knew I was going to like it. Perhaps because I already love this team of people from watching Victorian and Edwardian Farm, like a hawk, when they aired. This is the sort of reality TV I like to tune into. Real people, experiencing real things from the past. Right down to the scrubbing of a stone floor and the birthing of a breeched lamb.

And whereas previous eras were hard, Wartime Farm is no less so. With food production in overdrive to accommodate the lack of imported items that the UK had become dependant on, every pair of hands were needed. Not only from (my beloved) Land Girls, but also PoW's and The Scouts.

I found the book to be informative. For example, I had no idea that teams of women used to operate canal boats carrying vital supplies up and down the country using our Inland Waterways (IW). Knows as Idle Women -  meant as a slur originally, but taken to heart by the ladies themselves - they lived 3 or 4 to a boat, in cramped and limited conditions for weeks at a time.

Or that some Land Girls were quite literally turned away from service, on account of their colour.

I feel that this vital part of the Home Front is often overlooked when it comes to both programmes and books about this little green Isle during those dark days. When some think of those back then keeping the home fires burning, they perhaps think of blackout blinds, gas mask boxes, queues, Woolton Pie and the all important radio.

Wartime Farm is aiming to bring the importance of farming during those times to the fore. The battle fought against drought, frost, temperamental plough horses, not to mention the lack of durable clothing and, unless in the middle of the country, the possibility of being underneath the fall out of a Messerschmidt on it's way back home.

There are also touches of WW2 fashion, beauty and recipes. I shall most certainly be giving homemade Elderflower syrup a go.

 The TV series, which began on BBC2 at 8pm on the 6th Sept 2012 and concluded yesterday should still be in iPlayer for a bit with the DVD being released on the 26th November in the UK.

However, if this were a book only, I would be equally as happy.  It is available in all good book shops and on-line now.

I have longed for a book like this, to give me information all in one place.

Wartime Farm does a pretty good job of it.

8/10



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