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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Whether you are from the town or countryside, you are bound to learn something new’

Author, Jill Mason, explores ‘Everything you wanted to know about the Countryside (but didn’t dare ask)’ in her newest “fact-packed” illustrated book, printed by Merlin Unwin Books.

The publishing company claims that this is “the only book” to examine the whole sweep of what goes on in farming, how our wider countryside, both wild and cultivated, is managed and the role of the rural workforce today in modern Britain.

A spokesperson described this as “an invaluable account of the British countryside today, its livestock, its crops and its wildernesses”.

In her latest 320-page jacketed hardback publication, which first became available in September 2022, she explores who owns the forests, mountains, wetlands and coastline in Britain, the farming industry’s future, how many eggs a hen potentially lays in its lifetime and why heather is burned on the moorland.

Its release follows The Townies’ Guide to the Countryside, which has, according to the author, has sold 10,000 copies.

Jill Mason

Jill Mason told That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane:

“In my book, I have tried to explain what goes on in farms, fields, moors, and fenlands across the UK.”

“It is packed with facts about rural life and country leisure in Britain today, presented in a clear and lively way.”

“Whether you are from the town or countryside, you are bound to learn something new from my book.”

“It is comparable to an encyclopaedia of countryside knowledge. From livestock farming to crofting, growing crops, to managing pests, from conservation to forestry, GM, and rare breeds – no topic has been ignored.”

During my lifetime, I have seen huge changes, not least in the people now visiting and living in the countryside.”

“As more and more seek a rural way of life, I have grown increasingly aware of the lack of understanding urban dwellers have of the way the countryside functions.”

“It is a complex tapestry which is perpetually evolving, and Britain, and indeed the world, is now a very different place to what it was when I wrote ‘Townies Guide to the Countryside’ nearly twenty years ago.”

‘Everything You Wanted to Know About the Countryside’, she explained, is intended to portray the countryside as it genuinely exists in the third decade of the 21st century.

Its intention is to create a “much greater” awareness of how rural Britain operates today.

She stated that her book encourages the reader to discover facts about every aspect of the countryside.

It takes a look at agricultural practices, land management, and reveals the reasons why things are the way they are.

Thriving and developing

It also contributes to an understanding of British rural heritage and traditional skills and how the modern countryside is “thriving and developing” in the face of changes in the 21st century.

The book provides in-depth facts and figures about the countryside, abundantly illustrated with an impressive selection of photographs, so it “holds broad appeal for all who enjoy the countryside”.

“If you are unfamiliar with or visiting the countryside, it enables you to understand its ways and workings.”

“If you are a rural resident or seasoned farmer, you will still come away with a deeper understanding of different ways of farming or learn about another rural craft or industry.”

“Even someone who has only a passing interest will find the book informative and engaging – perfect pub quiz material.”

Jill Mason’s new book Everything you wanted to know about the Countryside… (but didn’t dare ask) is available online from Merlin Unwin Books’ website, via the Book Depository for free international orders, or is available from your local bookshop.

About the author

Jill Mason was one of Britain’s first women gamekeepers, a job which she enjoyed for over 30 years.

She has lived and worked in the countryside all her life and has written for a number of country and field sports magazines.

Currently, she lives in Norfolk with her husband, David Mason, also a retired gamekeeper and photographer whose photos illustrate the books.

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