24 December 1999


Fans of the late Veronica Frater got to

know her large family through her

Farmlife diaries. Some of the children are

grown up now but, as widower

James Frater tells us, in his annual

letter, they are still all at home on the

farm on the Northumberland coast

IS IT really a year since I last wrote? The years are going faster which must mean approaching old age. With four teenagers at home it is being pushed forward at a rate of knots. The hair is going, the belt is getting longer and the breath shorter.

My troops are all still at home and they dont seem to want to move.

William (23) is the only one even semi-detached as he works 30 miles away and sometimes stays with my sister, at weekends he goes to Leeds to see his girlfriend.

Andrew (20) decided not to continue with art in the summer and came home thinking he could get a job from his bed.

John (18) has left school with good enough grades to get to "uni" but decided to stay at home for a year to sort out his future. He would really like to work on the farm but there is no work or future for him here. Both he and Andrew have temporary jobs in the Jus Rol factory until Christmas. I think I would rather dag dirty ewes – the moneys better though.

Thomas is 17 in February so I will begin my fourth learner driver. How much longer can I go on imperilling my life? Currently in the sixth form after doing well in his GCSEs he really does not know his future.

"Harry (14) is very clever but does not want to be, he would rather fool around in class than work. He wants more freedom now and it is a worry when he goes to stay with friends, what are they up to? I have to trust and hope.

Poppy (13) my sixth teenager is great. I hardly see her as she goes to the stables at every opportunity, works hard at school and always seems happy. No worries? Well I did see her coming out of school surrounded by boys. I can feel more hair going.

Rosie (10) ( pictured here with her dad when she was a toddler), the bane of my life, is spoilt. She gets her own way with everyone except her big brothers who think she is a brat. She retaliates with a cry of anguish and Dad comes to the rescue. I am going deaf.

Last year I did the Christmas shopping on crutches. This year I am reluctant to start. I have no housekeeper now, so I do the cooking and shopping myself. Somehow no one has had food poisoning but why have none left home?

Ah well heres to the mil…oh dear, I cant spell it, never mind say it. Cheers.

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