A little while ago, Victoria Connelly kindly asked if I would like to read her book Escape to Mulberry Cottage. These days my books of choice were published during the last century but I couldn't resist exploring the journey of a couple who made the decision to exchange Heathrow's flight paths for rolling hills and garden space. To say farewell to the highpitched whine of leaf blowers, loud neighbours, constant construction and other people's music...whose taste never seems to match your own.
Victoria's husband, Roy, is a painter and spends large amounts of time capturing the beauty found in outdoor scenery. Spurned on by the tributes of cottage life by friends and fellow painters the couple pondered whether or not it was financially feasible, not to mention practical, to contemplate such a move. Once they began to look at property listings it was difficult not to fall in love and picture themselves puttering around garden plots with Mother Nature at every turn.
After a few disappointments, Victoria spied a listing for a property in Suffolk called Mulberry Cottage.
'Ever-practical, Roy tried to keep me in check but he couldn't deny how pretty the cottage was as we opened the little gate and walked up the flower-lined path. It really was the loveliest cottage garden with yellow and pink hollyhocks, bright crocosmia and a crab apple tree. It didn't have roses around the door but I immediately planted some in my mind's eye.'
An offer was placed and after a bit of going back and forth a deal was finally reached. Victoria received word while on the quiet carriage of a train so restraint was called for but can't you just imagine her excitement? All that was left to do was wait for their moving day to inch ever closer...and buy some battery hens. Well, you can't have all that space and not have chickens!
By now, as a reader, I was completely sucked into the story of Victoria and Roy's move to their new home. Oh my heavy heart at the description of her new feathered friends rescued from a life of servitude as battery hens. Actually they were missing a lot of their feathers come to think of it! When moving day finally came and night fell the reality of life off of the beaten path struck them in the darkness. Literally. Without streetlights they needed a torch to find their way along the path to their nearest neighbours. Something I hadn't even considered in my own country-living fantasies.
Escape to Mulberry Cottage is such a heartwarming read and I so enjoyed rooting for Victoria and her husband in their quest to find a cottage to call their own. A quick read, it was over all too soon. With any luck Victoria has plans for more stories from Mulberry Cottage; if I may be so bold as to suggest life in the countryside through a calendar year as a subject? You know, for those of us poor things who still have to live vicariously through such lucky people. Thank you for sharing your book with me, Victoria. All the best!