In Review: Living the Country Dream

As the new year unfolds so do our dreams for the year ahead. A period of quiet self-reflection follows the indulgence and fanfare of the year’s end, with plans made and resolutions pledged. For some of us this may involve a life change - often a daunting prospect, so being inspired by someone who is already living that dream can be liberating.

Living the Country Dream
Living the Country Dream
'Living the Country Dream', by Bella Pringle, photography by Nick Ivins

Bella and Nick Ivins were clear about their vision - to leave the city behind and move to a smallholding in rural Sussex, embracing a home-based, self-sufficient way of life centred around the family. After ten years of restoring Walnuts Farm and its five acres of neglected land, their book, ‘Living the Country Dream’ provides useful insider advice for anyone with a similar yearning for the simple life.

Divided into chapters covering the various elements of their smallholding, they share their experience of growing vegetables, willow fencing, dealing with pests and even the best clothing to wear for working the land. Raising livestock, bees and poultry are also featured, alongside tips on establishing a woodland, wildflower meadow and nuttery. Recipes for making delicacies from their produce are also included in this visual compendium, which is brimming with rural charm. They are not purists however, their mantra is to exert the least amount of effort for maximum enjoyment and optimal production from the resources available, admitting their efforts mark a starting point for those looking for full self-sufficiency.

This is a book with which to fantasise (warning - it will have you rushing for your wellies and frantically scanning Rightmove), but it also provides the information and advice to turn it into a reality, on whatever scale you can achieve.