I’m delighted to welcome Lorraine Turnbull and to share an excerpt from her book, Living Off the Land, which tells of how she moved from Glasgow to live on a small holding in Cornwall. Thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for inviting The book is available now in paperback and ebook formats and you can order your copy here: Living Off The Land.
By the time I reached fourteen, I had a weekly subscription to Farmers Weekly much to my mother’s horror and despair. She longed for me to magically turn into a lady overnight and to become a hotel receptionist or typist, and then to get married and present her with grandchildren. I wanted to go to agricultural college to explore the fascinating world of sheep fertility and how to get three lamb crops every two years. Even then we were poles apart and looking back, I must have been a total mystery as well as a disappointment to her.
Goodness knows where all this affinity for the land came from. My father was from Govan; a hard and deprived ship building area located on the River Clyde. After leaving the Navy at the end of WW2, he trained as an engineer, and worked in the Middle East in the oil industry, which is how he met my mother; at a party in Baghdad, Iraq in the 1950’s. My mother was Armenian, and was in her youth quite a beauty. Her own story is fascinating. Her grandfather was an Armenian carpet weaver in a small town on the old silk route in Western Turkey. He was killed when the Turks massacred the Armenians in the genocide in the early twentieth century. The survivors, including his son (her father) who was aged about seventeen were marched South East across the Syrian and Iraqi deserts. The death marches, as they became known starved many, and brutal robberies, rapes and murders were commonplace. Many thousands died along the way, although the Bedouin and various international charities tried to help. Her father walked with some others to Baghdad, where he met his wife; a fellow Armenian refugee and they married and started a family. Sadly, the wife died very young, leaving the husband with four young children to look after. He remarried and went on to have another four sons.
How much this influenced her choice to marry I’m unsure. She could have had her pick of men, but chose to marry my dad; leave a tight knit community and family in a country now under British control to live the high life in the 1950’s mainly American foreign workers compound with servants and horses and parties before finally returning to post war, smog- filled Glasgow. She must have really loved him. Or have been very desperate to leave post- war Baghdad.
From the back of the book
To make her dream come true Lorraine Turnbull dragged her new husband and reluctant children away from Glasgow to live the ‘Good Life’ on a smallholding in Cornwall. Sheep wrestling, making cider, dealing with maggots and a demented mother and all under the pressure of the dreaded Agricultural Occupancy Condition. Lorraine shares the story of the delights and disasters of living off the land in Cornwall and how she finally triumphed over adversity.
More about the Author
Lorraine Turnbull was born in Glasgow where she lived until 2015 when she and her family moved to a tired bungalow and an acre of land with an Agricultural Occupancy Condition on it in Cornwall. She started a smallholding from scratch, retrained as a horticultural tutor and also worked as a Skills Co-ordinator for The Rural Business School. She began commercial cider making in 2011 and until recently ran a profitable small craft cider business.
In 2014 she was recognised for her contribution to sustainable living by winning the Cornwall Sustainability Awards Best Individual category.
After removing the Agricultural Occupancy Condition on her home she relocated to a smallholding in France.