Hi, I'm Sue!

I'm a wife, mother and grandmother and have been described by some of my friends as a bit of a hippy or earth mother. But I think I’m just a real old fashioned country girl at heart.  I was born in a little cottage on a farm in the heart of Dorset, just a short distance from the county town of Dorchester. My childhood was quite idyllic; long summers spent free-ranging on the farm and although I didn’t realise it at the time, my parents were educating me in so many things that I now use and value. 

At the end of the season we would gather and store apples, wrapping each one very carefully in old newspapers. Carrots would be put in a barrel with layers of sand and my mum, who was and still is an incredibly good cook, would be pickling and preserving all that she could, from piccalilli to runner bean chutney, jellies and jams.

 

My brother and I would gather blackberries and return home with faces and hands stained from the juices,  proudly handing over the bowls of plump berries we had foraged for jam making.  We lived by the seasons and from the land and had a varied but extremely healthy diet. Lots of veg, stews and my mum's amazing roast dinners which the family still get excited about when invited to join mum and dad for Sunday lunch!

 

We ate rabbit, pheasant and venison alongside your more normal beef, lamb etc. The smell of my mum's cooking was always drifting through the house, large vats of stew slow cooking on a log fed Rayburn.  Something becomes ingrained in you when you are a farmer's daughter.

I get an indescribable urge as spring approaches to turn the soil and plant and nurture and as the seasons change so do I. At harvest time I feel a need to gather and store and fill my freezers to the brim ready for the pending winter months.  

 

I have an allotment which I love tending to and apart from when I’m working as a hypnotherapist, I find myself immersed in growing , cooking and crafting, again most projects driven by the season. I love nothing more than being surrounded by my family; my three wonderful very grown up children, their partners, my granddaughter and of course my amazing husband / chief  food taster and very handy handyman. 

He is always building and constructing things on my request to grow things up or put things in.  

 

I adore living in Dorset and could not imagine being anywhere else. I love it’s  incredibly stunning landscapes, outstanding beauty and the wonderful people. Dorset is steeped in history and tradition, from the writer Thomas Hardy to Dorset knob throwing contests! There are so many fabulous producers of cheeses and wines, meats, cereal and honey and so much more. And I love nothing more than using local produce in my home and in my cooking. 

The farm was a mixture of livestock and arable and we had our own chickens, sheep, pigs and my Dad's incredible vegetable patch. From an early age myself and my brother were given responsibilities around the farm; feeding animals and helping Dad with the watering of the vegetable patch during the summer months, while he was working long hours harvesting and hay making. He use to leave rows of buckets of water for us in the morning by the veg patch and after school it was our job to ensure each plant was adequately watered (each young cabbage plant had a mug of water.)

 

Another duty was picking caterpillars off the cabbages. I then, without Dad's  knowledge, would keep them in a large jar and feed them and eventually release them. I don’t think I understood completely the damage they caused to his crop. 

Hi, I'm Katie!

I'm a thirty-something (completely in denial) Mother and partner living in beautiful, rural Dorset. To be honest, despite being Dorset born and bred, I never thought that all these years later I would still be here or that I would live the kind of life I do, but I am so happy things have turned out this way.

I grew up for the most part in a single-parent family as,

the eldest of 3 children. Although things weren't always easy, I never felt like we went without and thanks to my childhood, I now know how to stretch money as far as it will go which as a former single mother myself, definitely came in handy.

Some of my fondest memories as child, revolve around gardening and food. I can remember as a very young child, being in the garden/allotment with my grandpa and helping him pick and water and grow. When it came time to harvest he would lift me into the centre of a ring of blackcurrant bushes with a bowl and I'd spend all day in there picking (and eating) them! The days that followed the picking would find me in the kitchen with my precious and beloved Nanny making all our crops into jams and pies and tarts and all sorts of other lovely treats.

Food was always a very important thing within our family as we would like nothing more than crowding into our mum's house, even now as adults, for a massive family meal which would often see no less than 11 of us with such an extended family too.

As I grew older, being a Dorset country girl was furthest from my mind as I dreamed of the West End and performing. After graduating from Winchester University in 2006, my dream came true and I made it onto the stage of Her Majesty's Theatre in Piccadilly as a principal in a West End variety show which still remains one of my greatest achievements to date. 

However, I realised whilst doing this that actually, the bright lights and fame I had craved as a child weren't the most important thing to me and so I returned to Dorset and trained as a teacher in English and Performing Arts. Once I'd graduated once again, I jetted off to Sicily in Italy where I ended up staying for 3 years as a teacher and still miss it even today.

But, my heart was calling me home and after three glorious years there, I hopped on a plane and came home to Dorset. A few years later, despite knowing I would be a single parent, I made the decision to have my little girl who completely changed my life and whom I am so grateful for each and every day. It was also at this point that I decided to go self-employed and work from home and am now a somewhat successful, some might say, full-time blogger.

Now I find that the girl who once at the naive age of 20 stated that she was and always would be a townie and used to moan about the remoteness of village life, simply craves long walks in wellies in Autumn leaves, quiet village life where I can watch my daughter play and grow happily and everything else I used to scoff at.

Almost two years ago, I met my wonderful partner and whilst I will never be your traditional "stay at home wife/mum" there is nothing I love more than keeping our home lovely and cooking and feeding the two most important people in my life.

Now thanks to Sue, I have also started reconnecting with my gardening roots and will, hopefully, be taking on my own allotment this year and seeing if green fingers really

do run in the family and hope that my Nanny and Grandpa are looking down on me with a little bit of pride. 

From the girl who wanted nothing more than to get out of Dorset to the big bad city to the woman who found what made her happiest was coming home and being the thing she'd never wanted to be; a mother, partner, cook, grower and simply a Dorset country girl.

Meet Sue & Katie

Two women. Two generations. Both mothers and lovers of the county where they live. Blogging about Dorset here at Dorset Country Life. Find out more...

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