9 October 1998

Sisters overcome odds

THOSE prepared to pile the last-minute challenges of round-the-year holiday accommodation, on top of running an upland Pennine farm, must be resilient bordering on the remarkable.

Jean and Margaret Brown score highly on both counts.

This beautifully-written autobiographical account by Jean Brown*, spans the period from 1987 to 1996 at Currer Laithe, their cherished holding which dates back to the 16th century.

The family came to the farm in 1929 when it lacked a road and windows, let alone electricity, water or sanitation. Still very much a place of continuous toil, it has been improved painstakingly with holiday accommodation added to supplement slender farm income.

Day-to-day existence including successes, failures, sadness, joy, the umpteen trials of coping with members of the family including a much-loved incapacitated brother, and a wide circle of friends, not forgetting the livestock, are related by Jean Brown in minute detail.

Previously a primary school headmistress for 21 years at a local Dales school, she returned home to help farmer sister Margaret on the death of their father.

Despite an incredibly crowded and hard life, their ability to overcome all manner of emergencies seems limitless. And they still find time to glory in the changing seasons on the farm and on holidays. Trips to the Scottish Islands and Wales in their trusty Range Rover are considered an essential and restorative antidote to the never-ending cares of family, farming and visitors.

A fine writer with an eye for the minutest detail, Jean Brown also has the ability to tug the heartstrings.

Despite their ups and downs, she and her sister come over as incurable optimists with a sense of humour to match. HPH

*Well Trace the Rainbow by Jean Brown, (£18 inc p&p) from &#42 &#42 Brown, Currer Laithe, Moss Carr, Keighley BD21 4SL.