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Living off the Land: My Cornish small holding dream by Lorraine Turnbull [Book review]

Firstly I would like to begin my review with a heartfelt thanks to author Lorraine Turnbull who reached out to me on twitter and offered me the chance to read her book in return for an honest review. I thought the premise of the story sounded really interesting and I am glad I said Yes! All thoughts and opinions are my own.


To make her dream come true Lorraine Turnbull dragged her new husband and reluctant children away from Glasgow to live the 'Good Life' on a smallholding in Cornwall. Sheep wrestling, making cider, dealing with maggots and a demented mother and all under the pressure of the dreaded Agricultural Occupancy Condition. Lorraine shares the story of the delights and disasters of living off the land in Cornwall and how she finally triumphed over adversity. If you enjoy reading Phillipa Ashley and Carole Matthews you'll probably enjoy this too.

My thoughts

I have to say I wasn't sure what to expect with this book as it is not normally the genre I tend to read. I like to escape into a world of fiction and am not normally drawn to auto-biographies or non-fiction as readily as my fictional books. However when Lorraine offered me a chance to read it, I thought the descripton sounded very interesting. I have always wondered what it is like living a farming life, I have imagined it to be extremely tiring, all consuming but rewarding and not knowing any people within that industry myself I thought this a great way to experience that side of life.

This book is the story of Lorraine and her plan to up-sticks and move her family to the other end of the country and pursue her dream of owning a small-holding. It shows the trials of taking on such a huge job and all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that goes into living this lifestyle.

Lorraine writes her story beautifully, it flows so well. Although this is a true story I often forgot that I was actually reading a non-fiction book, her writing has such a beautiful story telling element to it, and some of her experiences were so outrageous that they would not have been out of place in a fictional book. From demented chickens, swarms of bees on the move, dog attacks and many other tales she laces the stressful life of a farmer with some humour and personality.

I was particularly moved by her description of her relationship with her mother and their journey together. It was heart breaking to read the things they went through during that time and the strains that her mothers illness put on their home and family. She brings a heart felt, emotional and very honest account of her feelings and the effects the illness had. I applaud her for the truthful frank description she gives.

I found her time on the small holding to be absolutely fascinating, I loved to hear about how she became proficirent in so many different things over the years, from lambing, bee-keeping, cider making and teaching. The fact that she and her husband took everything in their stride and kept learning new things and adding more strings to their, ever growing, bows was inspirational. I highly recommend this to anyone who has ever wondered what it must be like to live a farming life or own their own small holding. Lorraine is deeply honest and shows just how hard but rewarding the job can be.

I hope her next adventures are just as rewarding and exciting, I look forward to reading her new novel "Mum's the word" - I shall be watching out for the release of that one!

You can buy this book here on Amazon as paperback and kindle.

About the author

Lorraine Turnbull was born in Glasgow where she lived until 2005 when she and her family moved to a run down agriculturally tied bungalow with an acre of land in Cornwall. She started a smallholding from scratch, retrained as a horticultural tutor and also worked as a Skills Co-ordinator for The Rural Business School. She began commercial cider making in 2011 and until recently ran a profitable small craft cider business.

After successfully removing the Agricultural Occupancy Condition on her home she relocated to a smallholding in France.

Follow her on twitter @LorraineAuthor

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Lisa McLachlan
Lisa McLachlan
May 03, 2021

Funnily enough, Cornwall has been top of my list for places to move to for a while, albeit close to the sea rather than in the country. But this sounds like a really lovely read, I'll have to look out for it, thank you :)

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