Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life by Simon Dawson

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Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life by Simon Dawson

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Buy Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life by Simon Dawson at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A balanced and realistic look at the perils and pleasures of becoming self-sufficient. It reads very easily and you will laugh and you will cry. You'll be wiser too. Definitely recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2015
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-1409154655

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Simon Dawson really had no intention of leading a life of self-sufficiency - he accidentally fell into the beginnings of it at a New Year's Eve party which was a little too noisy for him to be completely certain what it was he was agreeing to. But even then there was no need for it to go too far. After all, this man's heart was in London and he was an estate agent - a member of the profession whose place at the top of the opprobrium ladder was only made wobbly after a serious PR campaign on behalf of journalists and politicians. But his wife was determined that she couldn't stand being a property solicitor any longer and so they sold their flat in London and rented a property on Exmoor and Simon began a weekly commute - weekends in Devon and most of the week in London.

It was, of course, a steep learning curve. The countryside, animals, were alien. It all operates with a completely different - and fluid - set of rules. The skills you require are totally different and Dawson gives us a very readably story of his journey. He's frank about his own shortcomings (and I defy you not to laugh at some of his accidents...) and about the tragic, heartbreaking side of a smallholding and husbandry. There's an old saying in these parts that where you have livestock you have deadstock and Dawson makes no bones about the emotional involvement which he had for all the animals.

He's open too about the financial constraints. Self-sufficiency doesn't actually mean that you can live without an income - it means that you live hand to mouth, dreading the next problem which will need to be solved with cash rather than eggs. If you're thinking that this makes the book sound as though you're going to be taking your pleasures just a little too sadly then forget it - it's a book that's very easy to read. I found myself doing the 'just another chapter' trick and I finished in just a couple of sittings when I really should have been putting my mind to something else. There's a lot of humour and even the worst of moments have a positive side to them. It's uplifting.

If the idea of the good life appeals to you then this should be one of the first books you turn to. It will give you a balanced overview of what life would be like. You might not be on Exmoor, but many of the challenges you'll face - and the pleasures - will be the same. It should help you to make up your mind - at which point you can move on to something more detailed, more of an instruction manual.

I'd like to thank the author and the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For another - if rather harsher - look at living the good life, have a look at A Place In My Country: In Search Of A Rural Dream by Ian Walthew. Simon Dawson has also written The Self-Sufficiency Bible: Window Boxes to Smallholdings - Hundreds of Ways to Become Self-Sufficient which gives some great ideas of ways in which you can become, if not self-sufficient, then part way along the continuum.

Buy Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life by Simon Dawson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life by Simon Dawson at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life by Simon Dawson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life by Simon Dawson at Amazon.com.

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