Deserted — 18 Comments

  1. Pingback:Love's Labour's Lost | The Big Garden and Croft

  2. It is unbearably sad to see once loved homes, so hard-earned but now turning back to the earth. As FarmGal said, there are also many deserted places here in Ontario as well; both where she lives in “Lower” and I do in “Upper Canada”… These are not only hard-scrabble settlers’ cabins far back in the woods, but developed farms with house and outbuildings left empty because there’s not enough of the newer generation wanting to devote the amount of time required to be full-time mixed farmers with livestock to fertilise the soil and regenerate the land. Easier by far to rent out the land to large crop, Agri-Business on their behemoth machinery who’re slowly taking control of the arable land – cutting down the hedgerows and running tile to drain the marshy bits – getting rid of the wetland and all that lives there – that blocks their lumbering progress”… ):

  3. We see this in Canada in many parts of it, so many times riding in the bush, driving, hiking, camping in northern Canada where you come up on a claim, someone built the cabin, often the wood stove is still there as it was to heavy to take back out, and you will ind fences, barns, wells an more. all over grown, it is strange when you see that I’m many cases they left most things an just walked out, that is more common in the north.

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  5. Becky’s photos really capture the tension between “peopled” and “peopleless”–and the ways nature take backs her own space.

    • D > Many of Becky’s photos are of personal effect just lying about. We need to be discreet in selection of photos of these, but J included just one in the album : that of the pocket diary. I don’t know whether you spotted this, but the entries are mostly in Welsh, with some in English, or using English words. On 13th and 14th of July, the only entry is Mynd y’r Ysgol – ‘Going to School’. Which is intriguing, as this is clearly the diary of an adult

  6. J > Cathy, Very interesting what you write about villages in France. For us, occasional TV programmes feature Brits finding a new life in a little-known corner of France (actually more likely to be in the middle!) where property is cheap. What you say reveals that this is much more widespread, and isn’t a short-term phenomenon, but a systemic and long-term malaise. We know also – because our daughter Catherine is settled in the Basque country – that there are entire villages abandoned, and whole districts which are depopulating, because no-one from that area will accept the hard work and lack of facilities of the old way of life. But Nature abhorrs a vacuum, and – if government policies can accommodate them – the opportunities that come from neglect are seized on by those from outside, who are not burdened by the history and traditions of these places, but see only a future that’s more to their liking than the urban complex life they feel alienated from. The free movement of people can be a great power for good. And, as you have in an another comment pointed out, those who have made the decision to leave often come to appreciate the contribution of those who take their place.

  7. It’s so sad to see deserted houses that were once someone’s home but completely understandable given the economics of living in such areas. Around here there are very few – even the most rundown building is soon snapped up to be renovated.

  8. Wonderful post, so evocative and so thought-provoking. (As indeed are the comments.) What always strikes me is how it seems that the former occupants left so suddenly – leaving so much behind beyond just the buildings and the land. I suppose it suggests that they were not planning to resume a rural crofting life elsewhere. The sadness of the detritus, perfectly captured in Becky’s photographs, speaks volumes. They simply gave up when they could no longer on.

  9. Very evocative and poignant pictures. I don’t know if many are aware, but huge – massive – swathes of France are affected like this also. Here, where we live, there are almost more crumbling homes in the village than lived in/loved homes. And this is in a VILLAGE – not right out in the countryside. An old person dies, the family can’t/don’t sell the house for the small sum it is worth. And that’s it. Slowly the village population (and associated services – shops, public transport) reduces every year. France is so big – the distances to centres of population (and work) are so far. And the local economy is feeble now.

    • I think its the story of many areas, where the children seek a “better” life in the cities, more opportunity , maybe more rewards, more folk to meet, etc….and I think this was often part of the reasons behind many of the European policies, the financial assistance, to regenerate the fringes, to reduce the influx to the cities, growing faster and faster than they can build. Trying to avoid politics, but inevitably there are issues that require encouragement to retain the population in those places, and to improve the economy. But yet, to turn back the flow of history requires many factors to be brought together, in many lands.

      • I don’t think we can change it, sadly. No matter the European policies implemented. Perhaps I should post pictures of what parts of many villages look like around here. It is very sad. I’ve seen nothing like that in Scotland, except for in the most remote areas (like yours!) I admire what my homeplace in Perthshire has achieved in terms of a thriving local economy – it puts France to shame. But the trend also makes house prices incredibly cheap for those who (like me) come in to make a life that I could not have dreamed of on mainland Britain. And do you know what’s nice? At least, during the holidays, the children bring their own children to Chatillon (where their grandparents lived and died and there are still family homes) and I hear them laughing and paddling in the river. These are Paris kids, lucky to be able to experience country life still. So maybe not all bad?

  10. It is sad, but the pictures are beautiful. I am always drawn to this genre of pictures when I see them at art fairs here; they seem richer in meaning than standard calendar-type fare.

  11. Within maybe a quarter mile of my home also, lie the ruins of 4 homesteads, another two lie buried by gorse and broom, no more than ridges below turf between the bushes. A forgotten sink lies uncovered by a new fence line, nearby the remains of a chimney breast. Yet here also on the East coast of the Northern Highlands lies a similar story, yet by far nowhere near the desertion depicted and evidenced on the islands of the Hebrideas.
    Once my home was in centre of an important parish, a major crossing point, meeting point, of the drove trails that took sheep and black cattle south to the centres of population, but then the people followed. The speed of the destruction of homes unloved, unwanted, amazes even some of us that share the areas that suffer, but great respect is due to those like yourselves that battle to remain, to restore, to rebuild a life and attract others to share however briefly.
    Evocative writing, great emotional pictures, and thanks for sharing it with us.
    As a fellow traveller on the same journey to self sustainable life on the fringes, even if a more gentile fringe, it’s a privilege to read your blogs.

    • J > Thank you so much, Donald, for your thoughtful and interesting contribution! Yesterday we had a visitor to The Big Garden from Georgia USA, who – after buying some items – produced a letter of 1849 from an ancestor who had the tenancy of the farm (broken up in the early 20thC for creation of crofts) which includes both our walled garden and our croft. He writes of potatoes​ failing (the Potato Famine) and 400 people leaving for Upper Canada (and likely 400 more the next year).

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