WYE Valley TV presenter and writer Kate Humble is set to lift the cover on her new book at a special talk later this month.
The Escape to the Farm and A Country Life for Half the Price star, who lives near Tintern, will be chatting at St Mary’s Church, Ross-on-Wye, on Wednesday, November 29, about Where The Hearth Is - a look at “how we can feel happy, healthy, productive and content in our homes – whatever and whenever that home may be”.
Admitting she’s been “a bit quiet” recently, Kate says that’s because: “For the last year I have been talking to people about the illuminating and fascinating subject of ‘home’, discovering what it is that gives us a sense of belonging and why it matters.”
Having encouraged readers to reconnect with nature in previous books Thinking on My Feet and simplify their lifestyles in A Year of Living Simply, Kate says her new book examines “what it is that gives us a sense of belonging and why it matters.”
The book was sparked by her quest to understand why a derelict Victorian terraced property she thought would be her ‘dream home’ in London never fitted the bill, but the Wye Valley farmhouse she and filmmaker husband Ludo moved into 16 years ago did.
Despite pouring all their money into renovating the London, it just never felt like home, she admits.
“We thought that instantly we moved in it would be home. It wasn’t. And it never felt like home, and I couldn’t work out what we’d done wrong.”
Later she realised it was the location, London, that never felt like home to her, adding that “for some inexplicable reason, I really, really wanted to live in Wales,” and when “completely out of the blue” husband Ludo was offered a job in Cardiff, they bought an old stone farmhouse with four acres of land in the Wye Valley.
“As soon as I got there, I knew I had found my home,” she recalls. “There are many elements of that, but I think it was instant because I was back in the countryside, and those were my roots. Even though it wasn’t geographically where I’d grown up, I had grown up in a rural area – and I was back in a rural area and suddenly I felt like I belonged again.”
The duo have lived there ever since, and Kate, who also owns the Humble by Nature working farm and rural skills centre with her husband in nearby Penallt, said she recently began wondering about what makes a house a home.
She spoke to various people about their own experiences – ranging from an elderly brother and sister whose 150-year-old family stone croft on the Shetland coast was destroyed by lightning, to a Syrian woman who lost “her home, her community, her culture, her language, everything she knew”.
Starting from scratch, the refugee said it was the kindness of people who made the UK feel like home.
“Home doesn’t stop or start when you walk into the front door… community is really important, what’s around you, what do you look out at through your window… (while) ultimately, possessions are ephemeral – one day they’ll fade, fall apart, or get lost,” says Kate.
“Whereas the people in your life are the fabric of your home….Through talking to all these people and putting this book together, I realised how precious home is.”
Publisher Aster Says: “As our time spent in office buildings and other traditional workplaces shrinks forevermore, feeling happy, healthy, productive and content in our homes (be they castles or caravans, flat-shares or farms, fixed or temporary, inner city/out of town/beyond) is more important to get right than ever before.
“Where the Hearth Is will resonate with all those seeking to make the most of their lives during the many hours we all spend at home - whether it’s a case of tiny adjustments while staying put, moving out, living differently or dreaming of building something new.”
Tickets for the talk, which starts at 7pm, are priced £9 (£3 refundable against price of book) via 01989 564464 or rossiterbooks.co.uk