Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Back in 2008, our talented, artistic friend, Alastair , painted us a man sharpening his scythe of one side of our house. We live in an agricultural barn, converted into a dwelling by the previous owner. It seems that, having got round three sides of the building, he ran out of money for weatherboarding, and the fourth side is sheeted out in OSB. This wall is under cover, so is the least obvious, but we were happy for the opportunity to smarten it up with Alastair’s help.

We don’t have deep enough pockets to be buyers of original fine art, so it was serendipitous to find an artist long on talent and short on heating wood: we swapped split and seasoned logs from our woodland ready for the woodstove and cooking range of Alastair and Caroline. So pleased were all parties with this elegant swap, that we reconvened the following winter and the farmer got a wife … and we had a problem!

I’m an enthusiastic, perhaps even evangelistic, user and assiduous sharpener of an Austrian scythe on a wooden snath (handle) so it was not unreasonable that people reacted, “that’s Stuart” and thus logical that they would infer the woman was Gabrielle. The problem arose because the painted scythesman was a handsome chap but the woman, how can I put this? she had a face like a slapped arse. 

Perhaps she’d got out the wrong side of bed but who really knows why she looked so grumpy … and old … and she was plucking a chicken with artistically real drips of blood. We said thank you but Gabrielle was never sure and the more she heard “that’s Stuart and this must be you” we knew we had to ply Al with more firewood and replace the lady.

A coat of white undercoat magicked away the miseryguts and a few deft strokes of acrylic and we had an attractive young woman demurely harvesting something (not sure what, exactly but no drips of blood). Gabrielle is happy!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been occupied with smallholding duties and article writing deadlines. As if we didn’t have enough to do, we were visited recently by one of Gabrielle’s girlfriends from our old town of Brighton. A CEO in the voluntary sector, Jo had some advice for our holiday cottage for rent  business: never mind the blog, we should be Tweeting and Facebooking.

I’m yet to be convinced of Twitter but Gabrielle has embraced Facebook and you can find us here