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The Story Began...

This story began many generations ago in Shropshire. It began with farming genes in the blood. It began with a connection to trees and plants, to land and animals. It began with the aliveness of the magical, mystical worlds no one else could see. It started with fairies in the garden and shared secrets.


Ancestral genes were nourished on a tractor; my school friend’s father at the wheel and at 8yrs old, I vowed to marry a farmer.


The story continued as we hid under an umbrella, walking the land before ducking into a ruined building in the belief it would shelter us from the rain, despite not having a roof.


It was confirmed with a handshake which said, yes, we will buy your ruin in the middle of a 20 acre muddy field, filled with cork oak trees, miles from anywhere, with no major services. It began as the Portuguese couple smiled and took our money; their weather beaten faces paying testament to their agricultural lives of hard work in driving rain and beating sun, of family ties and dedication. 


And so began the architects and builders, with approvals and licences, it continued with speed and delay, excitement and frustration until the Monte was ready to inhabit.


The story took off as we started work on the land gathering rocks and pulling up invasive plants; our first dog arrived and the piglets settled into the pig pen. We had a full lake and fledgling garden, vegetables to harvest, people to meet, friends to make, and a life to create.


Twenty years or more have passed since this story began, with countless piglets, the arrival and departure of dogs and cats, the cultivation of land for hay, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, and beans, and the ever-changing cycle of sunshine and rain.

The story begins anew with this year’s winter rain, which marks the start of a new chapter after seven years of drought. Spring, with its vibrant wild flowers teaming across the landscape in colourful array revitalise our spirits and I dance through the meadows camera in hand to capture the magic unfolding in front of us.

This story began before I was born, it began with magical beings and mystical animals. Now, I watch my sow running through the brilliantly coloured meadow a cascade of piglets trailing behind her and I realise it wasn’t necessary to marry a farmer, my ancestors were here all the time.


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