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Reading My Mother: 50 elderly sheep and a lame horse

Eventually my parents begged and borrowed from every relative they could, took out an agricultural mortgage and bought a small, marginal, fell farm at the back of Skiddaw in the Uldale fells.  It had been empty for almost ten years and could only be reached across a ford and almost a mile of rough track.

It’s impossible to over-estimate the importance of Rough Close in all our lives. It meant everything to us. For the first time we had somewhere to belong. This land was ours; we owned it. For my brother and I, it became a place of magical enchantment; for my mother it was the ‘dear perpetual place’ where she could make long-term plans; it was my father’s life-long dream – a farm of his own, with no one to tell him what to do. He was thirty-two, my mother four years older.           We arrived on a cloudy northern day in two cattle wagons that lumbered and lurched their way over the ford and up the rough track. Our possessions were in one, the animals in another. The front door was ope…

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