Margot tries the good life - January 2014


- Credit: Archant

With London now a thing of the past, resolutions for 2014 include ale brewing, chicken rearing, vegetable growing - and filling the chest freezer

Ring out the old, ring in the new as they say! Perhaps we could leave the ringing of bells for a bit later though as I fear, dear Reader, that I am starting the New Year with more of a whimper than a bang after the effects of rather too many glasses of the bubbly stuff.

Waking up to 2014 in the countryside is, thankfully, blissfully tranquil. I am hoping that the faint glimmer of memory I have of the previous evening of dancing in a fur coat to a bemused village audience was merely a dream. I can hear Jerry muttering about ‘first footers’ as I huddle on the sofa in a heap, sporting my Christmas pyjamas and sipping a Bloody Mary (purely medicinal of course). Mercifully, the girls are tiptoeing round the house, so maybe now would be a good time for quiet reflection on time spent embracing a Hampshire living?

2013 was the year that I swapped kaftans for tweed, and heels for wellies. It would be fair to say that the last four months nestled in the bosom of rural Hampshire life have presented plenty of challenges for this self-confessed old townie.

Not least grappling for three days without power following the St Jude storm at the end of October - an adventure which had us experiencing life akin to a historical re-enactment, living by candlelight and filling baths with water boiled on a camping stove.

Never have I been more grateful to have such lovely neighbours who arrived on the doorstep bearing gifts of hot water and offers of warming up by that ubiquitous country kitchen warrior, the Aga.

To be honest, I have surprised myself with my ability to adapt to whatever country life has thrown at us so far. Jerry and I quickly realised that chopping wood with an axe was beyond us - we’re not practical people - and I imagined ghoulish Hammer Horror images of one of us accidentally chopping off a limb.

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So splitting logs with a sledgehammer and wood grenade is now a necessary weekly chore. Long wintry walks have led to many encounters with wildlife including a chance meeting with a badger late one night. A lost hedgehog on his great escape from a bonfire was gleefully adopted by the girls, not to mention the pigeon fledgling named Pecky who fell out of a tree and into Monty’s jaws.

The arrival of four hens to the Margot brood was our first foray into keeping livestock and Primrose, Poppy and I still haven’t tired of peeping into the nest box each day.

I can report that I have managed to commit to memory a smattering of countryside knowledge. I know the difference between bore and boar and quite unbelievably, the chest freezer which Jerry ridiculed me for acquiring has become my new best friend. Who’d have thought it?

So, what will 2014 hold for us? After all, that’s what New Year is all about – making resolutions. Well, I have made a promise to myself that I will attempt to transform a part of our jungle into a kitchen garden and Jerry is still dreaming of brewing his own pint of ale. After a hilarious lunch seated next to one of the organisers of the New Forest Show, I think that I may have had my arm twisted into trying my hand at poultry showing. ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’, as they say.

There may be a Hampshire country bumpkin in me yet!