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She had three mugs (one for tea, one for coffee, one for water or lemonade), and ate her enormous breakfast of meat and vegetables straight from the frying pan. Earlier Hope Bourne had lived on Exmoor in several remote and primitive cottages. Throughout her life she earned a small amount of money by helping farming friends, tending their stock and helping out during the lambing season.Her income was usually about £100 a year, of which she saved nearly half, claiming to live on £5 a month, most of which went on cartridges.Hope Lilian Bourne was born in Oxford on August 26 1918 (she claimed not to know her age, having lost her birth certificate), but in childhood was taken to Devon, where her widowed mother became headmistress of the village school at Elmscott, near Hartland.Hope herself left school aged 14, and as an asthmatic remained at home with her mother, who in 1939 moved to the Cotswolds; there Hope worked on the land, but she missed the wildness of Devon.This is an account of the area from prehistoric times to the 20th century, with a special emphasis on the history of farming, accompanied by her drawings of farmsteads through the ages.In her third and fourth books – Wild Harvest (1978) and My Moorland Year (1993) – Hope Bourne returned to the themes of Living on Exmoor, describing her experiences of farming, local lore, encounters with neighbours and the rhythm of the seasons.In the early 1970s she began to contribute a weekly 1,000-word column to the West Somerset Free Press.
When out and about on the moor she would call in at the farms, and her visits were reciprocated by the local community.Her caravan was 14ft long and 6ft wide, providing only one room which was festooned with the skins, antlers and hooves of animals she had slaughtered and gutted herself. She converted two of the three bunks into bookshelves and slept in the third.Hope Bourne's eating equipment was equally rudimentary.Neighbours, even though they lived miles away, would always come and help her if she was in need.She spent 30 Christmases at Broomstreet Farm, the home of her oldest friend on Exmoor, Mary Richards.