Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Victorian Farm

We had a lot of fun watching TV in London. We always like to watch TV in other countries, especially though when we were in Japan. Now that was different. We had no idea what people were saying, but it didn't matter. Japanese TV provided countless hours of entertainment despite the language barrier. Shows in London weren't too much different from the states, and actually, a lot of the shows were the same. We noticed endless re-runs of Friends and The Simpsons as we'd scroll through the guide. We did really like a few British shows, though, and one favorite was Victorian Farm.

I can't tell you how much I love this show! It's sort of like the PBS show Colonial House only much, much better. Unlike Colonial House where ordinary people are set back in time to live as people lived in 1628, in Victorian Farm we get to see how life was lived through the eyes of historians and archaeologists. It is simply three individuals exploring what it was actually like to live on, or rather create, a Victorian farm. They don't act as a family or interact with other period families. There's none of bickering, whining, or quarrels that inevitably surface on the more reality show like Colonial House. In Victorian Farm they use techniques and tools of the mid-nineteenth century and use The Book of the Farm by Henry Stephens as a guide to daily life on the farm. The Book of the Farm appears to have been the must have book for a Victorian farmer, so I imagine it's a pretty accurate representation of farm life at the time.

(Above is Princess the pig--because of her, I want a pig for Christmas! I love Princess! Oink, oink! A shout out to my girl.)

I love so many things about the show, but especially domestic historian Ruth Goodman and her enthusiasm for and knowledge of everything regarding the tasks of the woman of the house--laundry, cooking, and sewing just to name a few--all so much more effortful than we can imagine these days (laundry alone was a week-long, back breaking task). What I take away after every show is not only how hard it must have been just to survive, but also how rewarding it must have felt to literally build your life. We pick up a pile of clothes at H&M and head to Whole Foods to get our wine and cheese and inevitably often take those modern conveniences (among so many others) for granted. In Victorian Farm we see that if you didn't sew, you probably didn't have many clothes (not that they had many anyway); if you didn't learn how to sow seeds properly, you couldn't feed the animals and wouldn't have food to eat; if you didn't learn basic DIY methods for household materials like hand salve, your hands would just crack and bleed. Ruth Goodman teaches courses in the UK. I wish I had known of them sooner than our last week there.

Unfortunately we can't get Victorian Farm in the states (BBC online won't let you download it unless you're in the UK). And now you're probably thinking, so why have you gone on and on about this?!! Well, it is a book now too, and I'm hoping it will show up on Netflix one day soon, and it's just so darn good that I wanted to tell you. And if you have a trip planned to the UK anytime soon and are interested in history of the domestic sort, you would probably love Ruth Goodman's courses and lectures.

It's back to this farm for me now. Time to make dinner. Glad I don't have to kill any animals to do it.


Courtney said...

That sounds like a beautiful show. I might have to pick up that book for a Christmas present - it's the type of thing my boyfriend's mom would just love.

Evie said...

I'm so glad I stumbled on this blog. I LOVE shows like this!