It’s the biggest hurricane the modern world has ever seen.

And my mother and stepfather are smack bang in the middle of it.


They live on the Caribbean island of St Maarten.

At the time of writing this, I still haven’t made contact with them after Hurricane Irma wrecked their island and their home.

Hurricane Jose is hot on its heels.

It’s obviously been completely devastating for all those affected.

Managing sleepless nights and calls from the British Consulate follows something of a trying period for me generally.


2017 has seen planning debacles which continue to threaten my home; family dramas and hurricanes blowing a boat load of worry into my life.

I admit I’ve had my fair share of moments of almost crippling anxiety.

But I find that – like when Oli was sick, Emily died and my whole world fell apart in 2013 – challenging things in life can either make or break you.

And it’s possible to decide which way you go.

You can emerge from tricky stuff a stronger version of yourself.

I am an older, uglier, wiser me.

Here’s what I have learned this year: there’s very little you can control in life.

You can’t control other people, bureaucracy or nature.

What you can control is your response to these things.


99% of my life is sunshine, rainbows and unicorn farts.

I am incredibly blessed with my amazing family, my friends and the positive energy that surrounds me.

That’s quite a cushion when trying things are sent my way.

So while I wait to hear news about my family’s wellbeing in St Maarten, whether the council are determined to try and bulldoze my home and all the other items on my current worry list…

I’m just keeping on trucking with raising my family, growing my vegetables and trying to get Rowan Farm under some sort of semblance of order.

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Our new Gloucestershire Old Spot piglets Fatman and Spotty arrive in a couple of weeks.

We’ve been setting them up for even more luxury than Huff, Puff and Snuff enjoyed.

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The chooks have a new home too now, in which they are larging it up.

Not that they’ve done any laying yet, mind.

Idle madams that they are.

This isn’t the only way our teenage feathered ones have given us a headache recently.


Chloe’s favourite, Jessica, took herself off for a night on the tiles.

We were so convinced she was a goner, we’d had children’s tears and a full funereal memorial service in her honour.

But unbelievably Jessica evaded the feisty vixen that hunts rabbits brazenly in daylight hours here.

Jessica’s now thinking about what she’s done in the coop.


Prepping for winter has been my focus in the veg patch.

We’ve been relying on our earlier plantings to see us through our summer eating in the meantime.


Man of the match has been the yellow courgettes.

They’ve consistently produced all season and despite being really quite elderly and manky now, continue to give us loads of fruit most days.

There has been disaster too.


My entire crop of tomatoes was wiped out by blight.

In the forensic clean up that followed, I was careful to remove and burn all trace of the tomato plants.

Blight is massively contagious and I was worried about my fledgling potatoes.

In amongst this fastidious care I added new compost to the infected bed for its next blight-resistant inhabitants.



I then inadvertently pinched some of this soil to pack around my emerging winter potatoes in a neighbouring bed.

Midway through doing this I realised my catastrophic stupidity.

So far though the potatoes are miraculously blight-free.

Fingers firmly crossed.


We have planted a bee border, which is also remarkably still alive.

I’m not normally good with plants I can’t eat.

The border is groaning with bees and we will set up bee hotels among the plants for hibernation time.

Our conservation efforts with the owls have also been gratifyingly successful.

Having started with just one…


We now have at least six barn owls and tawny owls living on site.

As well as kestrels, buzzards, woodpeckers galore.

We’re treated to nightly wildlife displays.

Watching the cheeky crim kestrels repeatedly zooming in to pinch the owls’ supper right out of their claws has been a particular highlight.

The owls do all the hard hunting work before the kestrels make their mugging move.

Nature is like a lively episode of The Bill.


Which brings me back to my family’s own current brush with the indiscriminate destruction nature can bring.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my folks are among the most avid readers of this blog.

And it feels odd that they won’t be able to see this post.

But I can only hope they will be safely back here in Blighty for Christmas time.

When we can share the spoils of Rowan Farm’s winter produce together.