Lynette Barlow Family’s Surprising Move to a Sleepy Welsh Sheep Farm
11th January, 2021
Family’s Surprising Move to a Sleepy Welsh Sheep Farm
A Handful of Toads by Lynnette Barlow is a wonderful true-life story of one family’s challenging and eventful relocation to a sleepy sheep farm nestled in North Wales. This engaging debut book is also the first title in the author’s new series.
Set in the 1980s and laced with historical facts, this delightful book follows the young Barlow family as they leave behind the busy south of England to become sheep farmers in the remote, yet beautiful, ‘sunshine Island’ of Anglesey (Ynys Mon). This seemingly idyllic move promises a new, stress-free life when, in reality, their adventures are just beginning as they adapt to Welsh customs and embrace everything the countryside throws at them.
At the start of A Handful of Toads, the author’s sense of adventure and anticipation for what lies ahead is clear, with the narrative fraught with comedy and a great mix of apprehension and misgivings,
“Don’t you worry about that little house anymore”, my father had said excitedly. “Your mother and I have found just what Philip has always wanted, a farmhouse with land.”
‘Why am I doing this? I’m a southern-born ‘townie’; will I ever adjust to a country life in wild and windy Anglesey?’
And, as the story progresses, there are plenty of surprises and comic mishaps in store for the family. The author weaves in many amusing anecdotes about settling into life on the farm and the village. The Barlows must adjust to the weather, braving the elements and are even affected by the Great Storm of 1987. There are steep learning curves too, such as: understanding breeds of sheep, cooking delicious country recipes, driving tractors and local history lessons on nuclear power. Personal joy comes as the family celebrate the birth of their fourth and fifth children, alongside drama with a coastguard rescue and movie scouts creating a film set in the neighbouring village.
Throughout A Handful of Toads, there is a rich assortment of characters, from the quietly heroic plumber, Ernie Taylor to John Owen, the mischievous local Oracle. Life as farmers also involves plenty of animals. An enormous ancient toad is unearthed, beginning their relationship with the toads of Ty’n Llain and readers are treated to a menagerie of fiendish foxes, rebel sheep, prized rams, a bad-tempered Shetland pony, a timid sheep dog and a wilful Jack Russell.
A Handful of Toads is a joy to read from start to finish. It is bursting with entertaining anecdotes, respectful of Welsh culture and insightful about the community into which they strive to integrate. This book highlights the challenges the Barlows face and the inimitable Welsh spirit. It also celebrates friendships and experiences that shaped their family forever, as the author acknowledges:
“Life was good… after three wonderfully eventful years of our life on the beautiful Isle of Anglesey.”
Review Copies of A Handful of Toads and interviews with the author are available on request.
Contact us here for details.
A Handful of Toads is available to purchase from Amazon and other retailers.
Price: £9.90 (Paperback); £3.97 (Kindle Edition)
Publisher: Hampshire Oak Publications (November 2020)
“In a year (2020) when so much has changed, it has been a delight and absolute pleasure to read this book. Lynnette writes with such positivity, kindness and appreciation about what some would consider hardship.The simple everyday things, that surround bringing up a family, along with the challenges of her new life on a farm become almost inspirational. A truly lovely book that I was sad to have finished. It was a reminder of things that matter, about what’s really important. Perfect reading.”
“If you liked the Durrells (a family move from Bournemouth to Corfu) you will LOVE this! I couldn’t put the book down… wonderfully hilarious and touching with everyday events that make up family life recorded in such colourful language and detail.You feel you are right there in the warmth of the kitchen by the Rayburn with the Barlows.”
“Loved reading this book. It was a real escape for me, back to the beautiful countryside of Anglesey where I used to live too. It was very funny and lifted my spirits. It makes me want to go back and re-live the kind of adventures that this family had.”
About the Author
Lynnette is the eldest of four sisters raised by hardworking parents in the Medway Towns of Kent, England, shortly after the Second World War. Together with her dynamic, country-born husband, their decision to move to Wales in the 1980s led to a new and exciting life. Together, the intrepid Barlow family learned to adapt to life in a new country, adopting new skills while raising their five exuberant children. Lynnette’s relocation to Wales from the south of England and the subsequent new-found adventures in Anglesey became Lynnette’s inspiration for writing her debut novel, A Handful of Toads – the first book in her new series. Lynnette is currently working on the second title which is nearing completion.