So. A person decides, together with her better half, to leave behind the stressful day job and move to a simpler life in the country.

They find a cottage. “In need of updating” the estate agent said. Ho ho ho. And the rest. There’s a bit of land. Mostly woodland plus a garden. The national collection of brambles, stinging nettles and montbretia that isn’t going to stop until it has taken over the world. Just to make life really easy, the whole lot perched precariously on the side of a 45 degree hill.

The ducks are rusty for a reason. There’s a lot of rain. It’s 84 steps up to the garage, the post, the grocery delivery and any other contact with the outside world. No mobile signal. No gas.

And did anyone ever mention the wildlife? No. The deer, rabbits, squirrels, voles, pheasants and slugs which between them consume anything and everything the gardener might possibly want to grow? No. The mice that inhabit the tool shed and keep the garden machinery repair man rubbing his hands together in glee? No. And don’t let’s forget the local farmer’s cows and sheep either. ‘The Great Escape’ has nothing on them.

For catharsis more than anything else this person, Jessica, writes about the experience here on this blog. The best bit? The conversations that spring up with all the kind people who follow the story. It would be lovely if you too wanted to join in.




Proud to be listed in The Telegraph March 2016 as one of the ‘Gardening Bloggers You Should Be Following’.

Awarded a Golden Trowel as one of the Top Gardening Blogs on the internet, LawnStarter, January 2017.

Chosen as one of 13 Glorious Gardening Blogs by Waltons, February 2017.

Listed as one of the ‘Top 13 Gardening Blogs You Need To Check Out’, WhatShed, March 2017.

Voted Best Gardening Blog by Waltons, March 2017.

Listed in ‘Blogs To Inspire You To Grow Your Own’, Thompson & Morgan, January 2018.


  1. Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden August 26, 2012 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica, there are certain similarities between our gardens at least, judging by your latest blog posts. Oh boy what an adventure you have launched yourselves on!

    • Jessica August 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Jeneane, thank you so much for visiting. And yes, on both counts! Looking forward to dropping in on you when I need some inspiration.

  2. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse September 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Rain or not I’m super jealous!!!

    • Jessica September 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Tanya,

      Thank you for visiting, and welcome to rusty duck. This summer has been the wettest on record. There are parts of the garden I cannot go without sinking below the top of my wellies… Jx

  3. Denise September 25, 2012 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    Oh dear jessica – with the weather today i fear Autumn may be short – and My blogging activity will theregfore increase – tralala – yep! Includes you! lol! Love it!

    • Jessica September 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      Denise, you are very welcome to rusty duck… especially if you bring the chickens with you.

  4. Annie (Lady M) x October 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Hello Jessica! I am loving your blog and your cottage sounds absolutely delightful. Except for not have mobile phone reception. I would perish if I was you. I love my iPhone. Looking forward to reading more (plus I notice that you follow some of the same blogs as me – Slow Lane Life and The Hen House 😉 Is that a coincidence? Annie

    • Jessica October 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Annie & welcome to rusty duck.

      If I walk to the very top of the drive, stand on the stile and the wind is in the right direction, I can just about achieve two bars!

      I found you from The Hen House, you and Penny take much the same approach to life as me!


  5. Jeannine nye October 28, 2012 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Its great to see another person from the uk, so many are from the usa or canada,… anyway, glad to read your blog and see how you are doing, sorry you dont get info properly below… I am Jeannine Nye, I have a blog called Rosiedayze on Blogspot.I dont write about crafts or other making things, but ideas thoughts that pop into my head It might not be interesting to everyone, but it gets to clear the fog sometimes! I live in a Georgian Rectory, and have spent years just keeping it dry from the rain!! good luck in your house making… will be back Janzi

    • Jessica October 28, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Hi Janzi and welcome to rusty duck. Sounds like you have a very similar challenge to mine, but a Georgian rectory sounds wonderful! I will look you up.

  6. Marigold Jam November 6, 2012 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Sounds idyllic though I realise how much hard work it must be. Thanks for your comment on my blog today – am wondering just where in the West Country you live? We are on the Somerset/Dorset border. Will be popping by to see what you are up to now you’ve introduced yourself!

    You are doing what we always dreamed of doing but never did so will be eager to see how it all goes!

    • Jessica November 6, 2012 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Hi there and welcome to rusty duck.

      It is very hard work indeed. Especially as we’re trying to do as much as possible ourselves, to keep costs down. We are in Devon. It’s a big lifestyle change for us, but so far loving it!

  7. BumbleVee February 19, 2013 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    Your acreage sounds like my sister’s …. hers is also around 4 acres…. on a steep ,almost 45 degree hill… quite a few trees left in spite of the pine beetle infestation of a few years back …..and in winter they can’t even get up and down it at all… cars parked at the bottom… snow and ice is sometimes a factor for months on end in Canada.

    I’m off to have a nosey further ’round your blog ….


    • Jessica February 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Since I’ve been blogging I’ve seen a bit of the Canadian winter. The nice thing for you is that the sky is often blue, even though it is so cold with snow on the ground. Here it’s mostly grey and miserable. Not so nice at all! You also know how to deal with snow. An inch here brings the whole country to a standstill.

  8. Annie ......a breat of fresh air March 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica

    Thanks for the comment on my blog, yes try have a look out for it.
    Just had a quick scan of your blog …..Andy my partner and I moved for a quietier life to, to the NW Highlands and funnily enough we seem to have a lot in common. I am an avid gardener and have big plans for ours although its a lot smaller than yours, mines how to keep the deer out ( new fencing is on the to do list )….
    Will be back to browse your blog with a cuppa later.


    • Jessica March 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm - Reply

      Welcome to rusty duck Annie!
      I’ve seen one roe deer in the woods, it seemed more scared of me than anything and ran off. They are a mixed blessing! We house-hunted in Scotland too. It was either there or here and only here because this house came up first! I’m looking forward to following your adventures..

  9. Issy March 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Jessica, I was lucky enough to find your blog via John at Going Gently…
    Your rusty duck avatar caught my eye (we had a mallard for years who would
    stretch herself nearly that thin/tall for a treat – she was a love and terribly spoilt, lol)
    Now that’ I’m here, I can’t wait to stroll thru all your pages!


    • Jessica March 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Issy and welcome to rusty duck!
      Like John, I am very fond of ducks and geese, although he is lucky enough to have real ones and I have to make do with rusty! Perhaps one day, maybe if we ever get the duck pond restored, and then they too will be horrendously spoilt!

  10. Pauline June 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, I found you through Carol’s GBBD, I too live in Devon, east of Exeter. Compared to yours my garden is small, only 2/3 of an acre, but that is plenty for me to manage! I know I am going to enjoy exploring your garden through your blog.

    • Jessica June 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Pauline and welcome to rusty duck!
      The bit that we actively work as garden is probably about the same size, the rest of the woodland I’m just ignoring for the moment. I’ve had a quick peek at your very beautiful garden.. envious is an understatement!

  11. islandthreads October 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    hello Jessica, you sound like you are on an adventure, there are simalarities apart from being on the ‘west side’, here there is no piped gas many rural areas don’t have piped gas, I can’t get a mobil signal, I have a sewage drain here but my first home up here was on a small isle off the east side of Harris and there I had a septic tank, lots of people have them in the Highlands and Islands, that other house was on a steep hillside too, the ground level of my house was above the roof level of my neighbour across the road,
    my garden is on an east facing slope, a south facing slope is much better, you should get sun most of the day, the trees must help protect you from some of the winds and all that lovely leafmold, however you do have a lot! of wildlife, I sometimes get rabbits, you may need a tall fence that goes below ground around some of your garden, I hope the renovations are going well, my house didn’t quite need renovating but it has had a lot of work over the years,
    I love your line of rusty ducks, Frances

    • Jessica October 4, 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Frances!
      When we were house hunting, it was either the south west or Scotland. I’d have been happy with either although, I have to say, my heart lies in Scotland. We looked at houses well north of Inverness and over to the west in Argyll, but never made it as far as the islands. I am deeply jealous! I look forward to following you, now that I have found you.

  12. islandthreads October 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    Jessica I arrived on the outer hebrides by a happy accident, I always wanted to live in Scotland and thought it would be when I retire, I was working as a nanny, living in Bath, one day I was looking in The Lady mag and there was a job on Skye!! I got the job ad when it finished I didn’t want to go back, Skye is too expensive for me so I got a oneway ticket on the ferry from Uig to Tarbert, Harris, my family is where I grew up in the South East England, things happen 🙂 Frances

    • Jessica October 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      It was meant to be and that’s a lovely story! I know Uig, got a few souvenirs from the pottery. We have one more move I think, can’t see me scaling these hills and managing this land in my dotage. I’d love it to be Scotland, near a loch or the sea.

  13. Sarah December 3, 2013 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Hello! Glad to have stumbled upon your blog. I too went in search of a simpler life with my hubbie and two children (they are Mr Fig and the Figlets on my blog thefigtree.co.nz!) but we went a bit further….to New Zealand from Kent! We certainly found a simpler, greener life on our 20 acre Lifestyle block (as they call them out here!) Will look forward to following your garden projects. It’s never ending isn’t it! I also went to uni in Exeter so your house with its terraces reminds me of that time in my life!

    • Jessica December 3, 2013 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Hi Sarah and welcome to rusty duck!
      It is never ending.. but if you enjoy it there’s nothing better than being out in the sunshine with dirt under your finger nails! I am deeply envious of you living in New Zealand. It sounds like you’ve settled in. It’s something I’d really like to do.. and may yet given half a chance.

  14. Diane January 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    It certainly sounds like you do not need a gym, but it also sounds like you have the perfect life all be it in England! Sorry l do not like the weather there and lived for too many years in Africa after leaving. Now in France and enjoying life but I still do not like winter. Interesting blog and love your photos of the year.
    Happy 2014, Diane

    • Jessica January 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Diane and welcome to rusty duck.
      You are so right about the weather, it is the thing I most hate about England. And it’s got worse these last few years. It’s in January I most get to thinking that I really need to live somewhere warmer!
      I do hope it’s a good year for you too.

  15. Lynne Billing June 13, 2014 at 3:36 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica, I’ve just discovered your blog through Splenderosa, (which I love) I too live in a hilly place. I’m on 54 acres with some paddocks for the horses, but mostly bush. Don’t need to go to gym either, by the time I’ve tended all the animals I’ve had a really good workout. We have a creek running through our property. We are not really remote (just in an “out of the way place”, we don’t have gas or mains water, pump our water from a spring, have a septic tank system and rely on electricity for most things. We heat the house with a big wood heater. Its winter here in my part of Australia. Its nowhere near as cold as England but can still be grey and gloomy. We have weak sunshine today, but the dogs have decided they’re not moving from in front of the heater. I don’t blog myself, but enjoy reading blogs from like-minded people from around the world. I’m busy outside today, but looking forward to coming in tonight and reading through your blog. Cheers Lynne

    • Jessica June 13, 2014 at 11:33 am - Reply

      Hi Lynne and welcome to rusty duck!
      It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to come to Australia, if not live there. I hate the cold and wet of the English winter so much. Which part of the country are you in? It sounds like your place has some similarities to ours, although a lot bigger.
      I hope you enjoy reading through the blog. I’ve recently upgraded it and am having to manually load pictures back into the indexes, it’s a long job so please bear with me.

  16. Lynne June 19, 2014 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica,

    I’m between Cockatoo and Mt. Burnett in Victoria. If you Google Cockatoo, Vic. its most notable for Ash Wednesday, a terrible bushfire in the 80’s. Our children were little then and we bundled them in a car and drove through the flames to escape. (House was safe after a wind change) We now have a big underground fire-bunker built into the side of a hill near the house. (Big enough for us, the dogs, chooks, ducks and various other animals. Horses have a bare paddock they can be put in. We have a Cape Cod style house with high gables and attic windows and a sprinkler system along the gable that pumps water from the creek all over the house. Oh dear!, sounds terrible, but bad fire seasons don’t happen too often. Mostly its beautiful, we have lots of wildlife, including platypus in our creek and wombats and wallabies and a huge variety of birds. We are involved with wildlife, mostly doing surveys with threatened species and land care groups.

    We have been without water for two days! Had a new pump installed in the spring two weeks ago and the water pressure has been about double,
    then, turned the tap on and nothing! Happened Saturday night and the pump guy doesn’t work until Monday! So, lots of trips to the spring in the Winter mud with buckets! And carting about 30 buckets up the hill to the horses. My daughter’s arms were just about dragging on the ground when she’d finished. She said, “What I need is a hot bath right now. She had to make do with a little hot water and a face washer in the bottom of a bucket! When the pump guy turned up, he kept scratching his head saying the pump is working perfectly just not getting the water to the house!!
    We finally discovered that water was gushing out between the house and the spring because the extra pressure had blown a fitting off and we couldn’t find it because it was hidden in thick ferns.
    Enough about us! I am going to read through your blogs later tonight when I come in, really looking forward to it! Cheers Lynne


    • Jessica June 19, 2014 at 10:00 am - Reply

      My goodness Lynne, you are living an adventure! It makes my life sound very boring. I could probably manage without the fire threat but your closeness to nature sounds idyllic. I looked up Cockatoo on google maps, it seems the best of all worlds. Out in the country yet close enough to Melbourne should you ever want a city fix.
      Good luck with the water! It’s getting dry again here now. We had an awful winter, not cold but very wet with some bad storms. Nice to see the sunshine for a change!

  17. Isabelle July 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    What a lovely find, this blog. I’ll be back for more reading!

    • Jessica July 12, 2014 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Hello Isabelle, thanks and welcome to rusty duck!

  18. Annie July 14, 2014 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica, so glad to have found your blog. We moved to Suffolk last year for a similar, simple lifestyle after years in stressful jobs and although we have much less money these days, we are happier.

    • Jessica July 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Annie, thanks and welcome to rusty duck. The less money bit I fully understand! There are still stresses here, just different ones, I was perhaps naive to think I could leave them behind entirely. But on the whole we are happier too and more in control of our lives which feels good.

  19. Danielle July 16, 2014 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    That sounds like my dream! I currently live in Pasadena, California (near Los Angeles) and while I enjoy what the city has to offer, I someday want to have a place surrounded by nature rather than traffic. I can imagine how peaceful it must be.

    • Jessica July 16, 2014 at 11:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Danielle and welcome to rusty duck.
      It is peaceful but also quite isolated. It’s a long drive to find any nice shops and even further to find a decent garden centre. And the climate is nowhere near as nice as yours!

  20. Cordelia July 21, 2014 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    LOVE reading this. You’re fabulous!

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      Fabulously stupid maybe..
      Thanks Cordelia.

  21. Isabelle July 29, 2014 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, just thought you might like to know I’ve added you to my blog roll 🙂

    • Jessica July 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      Thank you Isabelle!

  22. Polly March 4, 2015 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica,

    i wondered if you would like to read our blog?


    Andrew and Debbie escaped from London to the Oxfordshire countryside.

    • Jessica March 4, 2015 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      Thank you for the link and welcome to rusty duck.
      You have some beautiful things on your website, I’m following you now on FB and twitter too.

  23. Sam Stanley May 5, 2015 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica
    I’ve just found your blog via Above the River. I’m fairly new to blogging so I’m finding my way around like-minded writers and love these peeks into other people’s worlds. I’m on the other side of the UK – the far south-east – but we, too, moved to get away from it all. And we have trouble with our mobile signal as the phones keep thinking we’re in France! I shall enjoy following your blog. Best wishes, Sam.

    • Jessica May 5, 2015 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Sam, thank you and welcome to rusty duck.
      Oh crikey, I hope you don’t get hit with roaming charges!

  24. Lorraine May 31, 2015 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica, I’ve just found you via images for Kornus Cousa ‘Satomi’ that I purchased and planted earlier this year. Your Cottage and garden is so beautiful, Devon is one of my favourite counties. I live in Sussex and have a sloping garden which I curse from time to time and I long for a flat garden, (I’ve never had one). My favourite blog is ‘an Aberdeen Garden’ by a lovely retired gentleman who is now living in Cheshire, I don’t know if you’ve seen it but it’s well worth a visit. He has the same wry and concise approach to his writing as you do which is why I have ticked the ‘Notify me of new comments and posts’ on here. I’m thinking of starting a blog myself and have found a few websites that inform you of how to go about it. However I find it all a bit daunting and not sure which host to choose, and I can’t quite get my head around ‘plug in’s’. I’d be really grateful, if you would be willing, to share any hint’s, tips, or things to avoid. I’ll understand if you’d rather not (after all this is a gardening blog) and I shall certainly look forward to any new additions to your site.
    Kind Regards, Lorraine

    • Jessica May 31, 2015 at 11:34 am - Reply

      Hi Lorraine, thanks and welcome to rusty duck.
      I will certainly look up ‘Aberdeen Garden’, thank you for the recommendation. I’d be happy to have an offline (email) chat about setting up a blog if that would be helpful? Let me know and I’ll send you some thoughts, although I’m certainly no expert. I do stray off the gardening theme quite frequently as we’re doing a lot of work on the cottage as well and that features quite a bit.. mostly the disasters that so often occur when you are trying to do something yourself and learning as you go along!

  25. M. L. Kappa November 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica thanks for dropping by and commenting on my blog. Put Metéora on your bucket list for the future, it’s a simply magical place. What a lovely blog yours is, by the way – I love thatched roofs! And everything about the English countryside. Nice meeting you! Marina

    • Jessica November 6, 2015 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Marina, nice to meet you too!
      It does indeed look to be a magical place. I’m yearning for those blue skies right now, the miserable side of autumn seems to have well and truly arrived in England this week.

  26. karengimson January 14, 2016 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Hello Jessica. I’ve just found you! Wow, what a project. Looking forward to hearing more. All the best- Karen

    • Jessica January 15, 2016 at 7:51 am - Reply

      Hi Karen and welcome.
      A classic case of biting off more than you can chew.. The project with no end!

  27. Marianne February 18, 2016 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica. I have been dipping in and out of your blogs but now decided that your writings are well worth following. I am still catching up and not even finished 2013 yet but what y o u describe rings so many bells as I have very similar experiences. I find myself in quieter waters now, no mains gas, sewers and crawling broadband but no less beautiful for that. I’m on a hilltop midway between the n.york moors and the yorkshire Dales and the views are great. I am looking forward to reading more of your musings.
    Kind regards. Marianne

    • Jessica February 18, 2016 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Marianne and welcome!
      I don’t know that area nearly as well as I should, but the images I have seen of the moors and the dales are wonderful. Thank you for your kind words. It’s lovely to ‘meet’ readers and of course that only happens when someone takes the time to leave a comment. For all the inconveniences of rural life I wouldn’t change it either.
      I’m sorry that some of the formatting on the older posts is a little awry. It happened the last time I updated the theme but slowly I am working on it and trying to regain some order.

  28. kim July 10, 2016 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Glad to have stumbled on your blog. Though my garden is only small, I love to be inspired by other gardeners. As a fellow blogger from the rain-soaked south-west of England, I look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

    • Jessica July 10, 2016 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Kim and welcome!
      Raining again as I write. I was wanting to get outside this afternoon too. Hey ho, comes with the territory I guess.

  29. Camilla Stacey August 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Hi there,

    I’m Camilla from the Waltons Shed blog team. We’re producing an article at the moment about unexpected animal visitors to sheds, and would like to use a quote and image from this story: http://www.rustyduck.net/2013/08/28/caught-red-footed/

    We will of course credit and link to you.

    I hope that’s ok – if you have any questions please just drop me a line.

    I’ll be sure to let you know when the article’s published.

    Kind regards,


    • Jessica August 2, 2016 at 6:52 am - Reply

      No worries. Thanks for letting me know Camilla.

  30. The Hopeful Herbalist November 8, 2016 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    🙂 We did a similar thing, and yes, the wildlife not so wild at all 😀 Enjoy the moments….

    • Jessica November 8, 2016 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Hello and welcome!
      Not so wild and ever the opportunists. It’s a miracle I manage to grow anything at all!

  31. jolanda February 27, 2017 at 11:34 am - Reply

    I’ve got a picture just like that —- of the River Barle. My very first ever white water picture that worked. I was so proud that I stopped an innocent passer-by and showed him ;- who asked what did you set it on – bless him.

    I suffer with you as regards the cottage as we went through the same thing some time back. Ours was Tudor, with a kid’s basket on a pole like Anne Hathaway had. Sadly we had to move when our son passed 6 foot 8.

    • Jessica February 27, 2017 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      Yes, the ceilings do tend to be quite low. Both of us are relatively short but Mike has still hit his head numerous times. Our previous cottage was even older than this one and we stripped it right back to the original structure. One of the highlights was visiting Anne Hathaway’s cottage to take a sneaky look at how it should be done. On the tour, while everyone else was taking in the history, we were looking sideways at door fixings, paint finishes and the like. Great fun!

  32. oldhouseintheshires May 1, 2017 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Your blog is fabulous! I too have an old house with a garden that was unloved that we are loving bringing back to life. Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Jessica May 2, 2017 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks and welcome! It’s such a rewarding thing to do isn’t it?

  33. Nick July 14, 2018 at 7:46 am - Reply

    Your photos are absolutely stunning, what camera do you use?

    • Jessica July 14, 2018 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Hi Nick. Thank you. Lately I’ve mostly used a bridge camera, a Nikon Coolpix B700. For landscapes either Mike or I will tend to use his Nikon D7100 DSLR.

  34. Nick July 14, 2018 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Would the June 15th rose photos with the amazing depth of field have been the DSLR (plus macro lens?)

    • Jessica July 14, 2018 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      No, believe it or not they were all taken with the bridge camera on the macro setting. It’s the perfect bit of kit for me, just one thing to carry around and the great zoom reduces the amount of hill climbing necessary to reach the plant! The macro is good too. Its drawback, having a relatively small sensor, is the quality of the image at longer distances such as for landscapes. That is where I’d prefer to use the DSLR.

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