Well hasn’t it turned cold all of a sudden?! I find that there’s nothing better on a freezing cold winters eve than to hunker down on the sofa, cup of tea in one hand and a good book in the other. Last night I spent a lovely evening doing just that, snuggled up with a particularly handsome specimen that had turned up on my doorstep a week or so earlier – Wartime Farm, the accompanying book to the BBC 2 series that has just finished.
The television series saw three historians, Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman, step back to the 1940s to live life as it would have been on a farm during World War II – the kind of program that’s right up my street, given my social history interests, and my passion for accessible, hands on learning. Well, I was thrilled when Octopus publishing said that the Wartime Farm book was winging it’s way to me for me to have a nosey at.
I wasn’t lying when I said it was a handsome specimen; quite a looker laid out on the coffee table, with it’s thick, matt, antique looking pages stuffed full of beautiful original photographs illustrations, posters and diagrams from WWII, as well as stills from the series, but as they say, you should’t judge a book by it’s cover… thankfully, what was inside fully lived up to expectations too.
Like the series, the book covers the whole scope of life on a farm during the war, from agricultural techniques, to changes in food production in the UK, to domestic life. Rather than giving a long winded and detailed history of the farm at war, the book focuses on covering a wide area, giving brief but succinct historical overviews of the different aspects of farm life all in one place. There really is something for everyone here. One of the major elements of the book that particularly impressed me was the emphasis on experiential learning; each chapter was stuffed full of recipes, tutorials and how-to’s, and packed with practical advice for bringing elements of the ‘make do and mend’ wartime spirit in to the modern home. Sound advice for life now, just as much as then.
Naturally, when I sat down with the book I turned straight to the chapter on wartime food, devouring the recipes given therein, and lapping up the stories of cooking and eating during the war, and it didn’t take me long to give some of the dishes a go. I’m always on the look out for great vintage recipes to try out – only this time last week I was feeding a hungry crowd with an authentic wartime dinner at my WWII home front themed pop- up – and this book didn’t disappoint. Saying that, I really did find something of interest in every chapter, from start – beginning with a very informative timeline covering both the military and the agricultural/ home front side of things – to finish – ending with the legacy of wartime farming and what we can learn from this period of history.
The Wartime Farm book is out now, and comes highly recommended from me, so get it on your christmas list now! Find it on Amazon here.