“Flying the Coop” is Francine Raymond’s new book about leaving her beloved Suffolk home of thirty years – from where she wrote many of her books about rearing chickens, ducks, geese, bees and pigs. She is one of the Sunday Telegraph Life’s food-garden writers, featuring seasonal tips on what to grow, harvest and cook from the plot week by week.
In her new book she recounts an all too familiar scenario for many – after her husband has passed away her old house and garden are too big to manage, and she decides to downsize to a smaller property, in Whitstable, to be near her son and his family.
The book is part diary, part renovation story, part new garden design, part chickens and recipes. But essentially it is a story about life’s passages: many of us have to face looking after an elderly, dying relative, leaving a bigger home for a smaller one, leaving friends and communities behind, and starting a new life, from scratch.
The book is filled with beautiful photography by Victoria Spofforth, and at a handbag size of 24cm x 16cm, it is just over 300 pages long.
What comes across most compellingly is that Francine is a coper, not just emotionally but also practically: she turns what seems a perfectly ordinary bungalow and garden into a colourful, stylish, chic base. She plants, sows, rears, makes, does, prepares, organises and seeks out the good that is around her, recounting it as she goes along.
Her enthusiasm for animal husbandry, horticulture, self-sufficiency and life is contagious – and this comes alive in the writing.
“Who knows what the future will bring? But, somehow, however hard the process, the fact that I’ve moved once, proves to me that I could do it again, if I had to. It takes away the fear of change, and that’s liberating. Try it, if you have a mind to, if not, enjoy the life you have. We only have the one.”
The book can be purchased from Francine’s online shop, and is priced at £22.00 including p&p.