Friday with Friends: Living My Dream – Lorraine Turnbull

Camilla very kindly featured me some many months ago on ‘Meeting the Authors’ and so much has happened since that interview, that she suggested I update you all about the two new books I’ve had published, what I’m writing at the moment and a little more about me.

Well, since I was a little girl living in Scotland I have wanted to farm. Having been frustrated in my attempts to attend agricultural college by my parents, I never gave up my dream, but got on with the business of life and put it on the backboiler for many years. After marriage, kids and a string of interesting but not riveting jobs, I divorced and met the most wonderful supportive man. Since we married he has quietly encouraged me to finish my university degree, and then to live my dream, and in 2005, we bought a run-down agricultural bungalow in Cornwall and began smallholding.

Then, I retrained as an agricultural lecturer and landed the most wonderful job, putting together training courses for smallholders and farmers. Still smallholding, I began a small, but successful commercial cider making business on the smallholding, won a prestigious Sustainability Award in Cornwall in 2014. My first book, The Sustainable Smallholders Handbook was published in 2019, my second, How to Live the Good Life in France, in March 2020, just as Covid was beginning to dominate the world, and my third, Living off the Land: My Cornish Smallholding Dream, was published in June 2020.

I began writing as a teenager, but had my first article published in Smallholder Magazine many years ago, when I was living in Cornwall. The thrill of seeing my words in print was matched when readers got in touch directly. I realised there were so many interested readers that I’d be stupid to miss the opportunity of writing a full length non-fiction book. There were so many other smallholding based books, all aimed at teaching people how to keep animals that I wanted to do something different, and the idea of helping people to look at their smallholding or rural business as a business seemed to be the way forward. Yes, it’s a ‘Good Life’, but aspiring smallholders need to appreciate it’s a hard life too. I’m delighted with the success of the book, but as a non-fiction work, realise that updates and coverage of many new situations need included, and so I’m currently aiming to make the new version even more popular.

My book, Living off the Land is autobiographical, and with an introduction of my early and teenage life, quickly moves to Cornwall, and the highs and lows, debt and final success we had on our smallholding. This was a very difficult book to write, as previously non-fiction never really touched on the personal. In this book I lay bare my stormy relationship with my mother, who developed dementia and came to live with us, eventually setting fire to our house one night as we slept. Whilst some members of my family have found it disturbing to read, I have to admit that the process really helped me move on from this incredibly hard period of my life. I have no regrets, and hope my experiences can help anyone else in similar circumstances.

Here in France, lockdown was at first frustrating and to channel my boundless energy, John encouraged me to set a strict pattern of writing every other day. The discipline has been fruitful and has become the ‘norm’ for me now. Current projects are a new and expanded version of my first book, and I’m thoroughly enjoying writing a black comedy set in an agricultural setting in my native Scotland. Who knows what my future career as a writer holds? Meantime, I haven’t given up the ‘Good Life’. Here in SW France I have a small apple orchard, a few walnuts, an acre of woodlands and a field where I keep my beloved sheep. I’ve just started to grow pomegranates, have far too many apple trees, and am trying very hard to resist the idea of getting some ducks.

It was wonderful to learn more about you and your background, Lorraine. Thank you for sharing with us. I’m adding ‘Living off the Land’ to my reading list. It sounds like a great book! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

To see Lorraine’s interview previously posted, go here:

Meet the Author: The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook: A Practical Guide to Living off the Land by Lorraine Turnbull

Connect with Lorraine:


Where to find Lorraine’s books:


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Meet the Author: The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook: A Practical Guide to Living off the Land by Lorraine Turnbull

Today we’re traveling to South West France to chat with Lorraine Turnbull. She and I discuss how being a police officer, gardening, the Milky Way, hay, and being single minded come together as part of her past and current life. Pull on your wellingtons, let’s get going …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Glasgow in Scotland, but now live in sunny South West France after living in rural North Cornwall for many years running my very small smallholding and making cider.

In which genre do you write?

Well, I’m currently writing my second non-fiction book, but would love to write in another genre; although my head is so stuffed with ideas I don’t know I could narrow it down to just one other genre!  Perhaps there is a rural bonkbuster in me?  Fifty Shades of Hay?

(Lorraine in a beekeeping suit)

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

Some time ago I was a Police Officer in Strathclyde Police.
I enjoy watching boxing on TV.
I have a morbid fear of wasps.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I have a beautiful home with two gite rentals here in Dordogne, so I’m often getting them ready for guests.  I love gardening and filling my garden with unusual plants, and I love taking photographs of local landmarks at night with the Milky Way in the sky.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’m quite single minded, and find it impossible to accept being told I can’t do something.  What utter nonsense; of course I can do it!  So I just quietly get on with it, perhaps not in the way I first planned, but I get there.  I think self belief is one of the most positive traits anyone can have and I can often be found wandering round the house muttering ‘I can do it’ under my breath.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

How would I narrow it down to just one thing?  Being told on the police radio to catch the runaway racehorse that’s galloping towards me on a residential street? Pulling on my wellingtons in the morning to find my foot squelching down on the remains of a mouse the cat had deposited into it?  Being hailed loudly in a supermarket by someone who has read my first book – “Are you the chicken woman?”

It was wonderful to meet you Lorraine! I am also quite single minded, so appreciate that you mentioned it. Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

‘The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook’   A Practical Guide to Living off the Land.

Where to Buy:

UK Amazon :<

Connect with Lorraine:


The Sustainable Smallholders Handbook

A practical guide to making and saving money on your smallholding

  • Smallholding and living sustainably continue to be one of the most
    sought after and elusive ways to live and work in the UK.
  • This book is aimed at all those who aspire to live the ‘Good Life’ on a
    smallholding; those who are already living on a struggling
    smallholding; and those budding off-griders and self builders who are
    aiming to live a low impact life in the countryside.
  • A very practical guide with 10 ‘warts and all’ case studies from existing
    smallholders and rural businesses.


1) Size Isn’t Everything

Planning to live the dream; arranging finance and spreading the risk; aiming
for high value; time management.

2) Properties

Buying smallholdings, land with hope value and off-grid living. Agricultural
Occupancy Conditions – what they are, how to live with them and how to lift
them. Soil, location and aspect of properties.

3) Skills and How to Acquire Them

Skills to learn, private, community and college courses, HelpX or Woofer
experience, internet learning.

4) Livestock

Regulations and record keeping, poultry, bees, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle,

5) Food and Drink Production

Eggs; cheese, jams and honey, juice &amp; alcoholic drinks, meat, nuts,
seaweed and other exotics.

6) Orchards

Apples, cider, under-grazing, planting an orchard, mistletoe, tree stock.

7) Teaching

Adult learning, community teaching, private tuition, insurance, lesson
planning and risk assessment.

8) Markets and Marketing

The marketplace, branding, signage, the internet and social media.

9) Diversification and Adding Value

Exploiting land and buildings, holiday letting, crafts, weddings, services, field

10) Self Sufficiency

Adapting existing smallholdings &amp; rural businesses, energy efficiency, water recycling, heating, electricity, off-grid living.

11) The Last Word

Preventing project failure.


About Lorraine:

Lorraine Turnbull has written occasional magazine articles on land based subjects since 2008. This is her first reference book. She ran a smallholding in Cornwall for many years, whilst working as a tutor for the Rural Business School, and latterly ran a craft cider business. In 2014 she was awarded Best Individual in the Cornwall Sustainability Awards.


Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host