Beachcomber Cottage

Have you ever thought about taking a sabbatical? Running away somewhere quiet and peaceful to pursue life’s more simple pleasures? If you have then you’ll like this book. You’ll also like it if diving, dogs, wildlife watching, outdoor pursuits, the good life (i.e. chooks, veggies etc) and roughing it (or any one of the above) fall under the category of “your cup of tea”. 

You might not like this book if you are staunchly anti-hunting as it touches on the topic of the West Highland stag cull. The author himself is quite relieved when he misses. But he indirectly raises the point that in order to critique such practices from afar, you really need to pay a visit and take the time to understand the way of life and what’s involved, a philosophy I wholeheartedly agree with.

The book is all about an ex-Marine turned explorer, marine biologist and writer and his recently rescued “donkey sized” dog Monty heading to the west coast of Scotland to try their hand at pursuing the simple life of a crofter. Crofters were tenant farmers who tended small plots of land, raising some livestock and a few crops. The crofter’s home was a simple affair made of local stone called a bothy and the way of life has now all but died out. Here’s a clip from youtube to give you a flavour…

The book is really a journal of Monty Hall’s experience living in a small community on the coastal West Highlands of Scotland. Whilst I’m not sure that a four wheel drive landrover defender and a large RIB (rigid inflatable boat) with a 125hp engine were the tools of trade of your typical crofter, the book is still a great read and I grew to like the author. Well actually I was really just a bit jealous! To sum it up its a bit like River Cottage meets Bear Grylls with some Jacques Cousteau thrown in for good measure. Western Isles of Scotland now added to my list!  Has anyone else read it or something similar?

Published by Random House you can get it here:

or probably also in the ABC shop as it was  filmed for a BBC series.

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  1. I’d better get this back off you before I head off on my International Womens Day roadtrip – perfect reading for the plane journeys.

    1. Will make sure I do. Its a good read though so might only last one return trip.

  2. P.S. I don’t know what he says about them but Western Isles of Scotland have midgies the size of racing horses all summer long… Worse than here!

    1. The horse size midges definitely feature!

  3. Hey Charlie – you should check out ‘The Real Good Life’ ABC2 friday 6pm. Its a take off of the old british sit com The Good Life in which a couple endeavour to be self sufficient, int eh ‘real’ version its more of a documentary that follows 4-5 couples/families who take a year off work and have to fend for themselves, without any paid income. The TV company is paying their mortgages and most have ploughed large areas of their yards to accomodate suffieicnt veggie patches and animal yards. Last week one family sent its 2 pigs to the slaughterhouse so they had meat for the winter :( it highlights just how difficult his way of life really is – even when you dont need to worry about the roof over your head.

    However at the end of last weeks episode, one family had decided they would never do it again as the mother simply couldnt live without getting her hair done every 6 weeks or lavish holidays around the world, but one young couple had decided it was 100% how they wanted to live – they had been very successful with their animals and crops and were selling their city house for some property in Cornwall :) they could own without a mortgage, and continue their dream…

    1. I did see a bit of that one too actually. They were obviously a little traumatised by sending the pigs to slaughter. But it was worth it when they realised how good the meat tasted. We hand raised pork when I was growing up and there is nothing better than the taste of fresh pork. The taste left in your mouth is even better when you know they have had a happy life.

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