In March last year I was asked by Delicious. to spend a day with the best selling author James Rebanks on his farm in Matterdale, Cumbria. I worked with deputy editor, Susan Low who was tasked with interviewing James about his life as a farmer and his recently published book The Shepherd's Life while I photographed James at work with his beautiful Herdwick sheep. It was a bitterly cold day up on the fells with snow lying on the surrounding hills.
I always like to do as much research as I can on the projects I work on and I spent the previous week reading James's book. The autobiography appeals on many levels. It illustrates how a person can turnaround their education if they put their mind to doing so. James was hopeless at school and did his best to be a thorn in the flesh of his teachers. He was in fact more interested in working on his father's farm. His father and grandfather before him worked as sheep farmers and James was intent of following in their footsteps as soon as he could. It wasn't until he had left school with no qualifications and had several years of farming under his belt that he thought of returning to education and try his hand at A levels. He was successful and went on to win a place at Oxford to study history. After Oxford he returned home to farm but had found his voice as a writer. His horizons expanded from farming to becoming a best selling author and setting up his own consultancy specialising in tourism, heritage and communities.
The Shepherd's Life is a beautiful, interesting and heart felt book which reads well. Vignettes of James's life farming in the Cumbrian hills are poetically written and give an insight into the hardship and joys of a farming life which keeps this part of our English countryside beautiful and so desirable to visit.
We met Meg, Floss and Tan his working dogs and Isaac his young son who was keen to tell me all about tupping and the life cycle of the sheep.
We loved our day and are grateful to James and his family for helping us create the wonderful article in the January edition of Delicious.