Author captures life on the farm

Beth Martin used the last lockdown to create a beautiful book about life on her farm.

When Covid lockdown closed Smeale Farm Cottages again in March 2021, Beth Martin sat at her computer wondering what to do this time round, apart from helping with the lambing.

Being a proud partner of UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man and having attended and loved the Writing for Wellbeing Classes at Jurby which were very ably facilitated by poet and artist Janet Lees, she decided to write about the creatures and farm animals at Smeale Farm, the only company husband Steve, brother-in-law Chris and Beth had at this time.

The Isle of Man is central to the stories and the collection all takes place somewhere on the farm. Beth became absolutely fascinated as she researched and wove their stories into events observed by her on the farm over the years. The animals themselves narrate their tales. The book is written for adults and teenagers.

Artist and friend Carola Colley edited them carefully and encouraged Beth to have them printed as a short story collection.

Having lived at Smeale for many years, Carola was the ideal person to undertake the artwork. Each story has an image and an illustrated first letter with roundels interspersed throughout.

All are beautiful and contain Celtic influences and clues to the farm’s fascinating history.

So, Song of the Hawthorn was born.

The book has crossover appeal and would make for interesting discussions between friends and/or book clubs, or anyone who loves a good yarn. Perfect for presents for friends and relatives on or off-Island, you may prefer to keep a copy for yourself and just be immersed in these timeless tales from the Isle of Man.

Award-winning writer Janet says of the collection: 'There is tenderness, darkness and a wonderful wry humour in these vivid tales which are bursting with life. From an adventuring ant to the polecat who didn’t like chicken, we are right there with Beth Martin’s tale-tellers, tasting, touching and smelling the world in a myriad different ways. Beth has a way of turning the ordinary into something extraordinary, getting under the skin of each character and enabling us to experience their lives in a way that’s full of wonder, without shying away from the often harsh realities of nature.'

And Vicky Lloyd-West, co-author of Story from Stone, says: 'What a delight! Beth’s stories display their knowledge with a light and engaging touch, witty, charming and sometimes shocking as the realities of animal and insect life are revealed. From the new earthworm beginning its life in a ‘rice-grain of a cocoon’ to the queen of the hive who will soon ‘cease to bee’, Beth lays bare the life cycle of the natural world around her farm in all its teeming and relentless glory.'

Find Song of the Hawthorn (£10) at Bridge Bookshops; several outlets of Manx National Heritage including the Manx Museum; Manx Wildife Shop in Peel; Mother Ts in Laxey; Farmers Combine in Ramsey; Cook Shack in Bride and Andreas Stores. For a direct purchase, email songofthehawthorn@gmail.com

Visit www.songofthehawthorn.com, where you will find Beth’s Blog, keeping you up-to-date with the farm and the Island.

A selection of high quality cards and a bookmark are also available online and at some outlets.

Follow Smeale Farm Cottages on facebook, email songofthehawthorn@gmail.com or follow @songofthehawthorn on Instagram.

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If you love the Isle of Man and want to help keep it special, there are a variety of ways to get involved in UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man projects. Here are a few suggestions.

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