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Islandmagee writer’s witty account of switch from journalism to the farming life

An Islandmagee resident who swapped her life as a journalist in England for a cow-milking career in Northern Ireland has written a book about her adventure.

Holly Crawford (36) moved to east Antrim in 2020 after marrying Paul Crawford, a vet and sheep farmer.

Mrs Crawford’s new book, ‘Stuck In The Middle With Ewe: Or How I found my flock and lost my heart in Northern Ireland’, details how she went from being a reporter to a milker of cows, a freelance writer and a lamb and sheep ‘foster-mum’.

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“In my former role as a newspaper and magazine reporter, I was constantly chasing stories and meeting deadlines, now I am chasing sheep and meeting cows,” Mrs Crawford says.

Holly and Paul Crawford with their book in The Secret Bookshelf, Carrickfergus.

She met Paul when she interviewed him at a veterinary conference after he won a prestigious award for services to the industry.

“We hit it off straight away and it was all very romantic. Paul proposed in 2019 in the conference room in which we first met,” Mrs Crawford recalls. “I said ‘yes’ straight away and we planned our wedding for May 2020. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, as it happens.”

Despite Covid-19 causing chaos, the couple eventually tied-the-knot and Mrs Crawford moved in with her husband and his 200 sheep.

“Ours is a traditional love story, really, just with added cows and sheep,” she explains. “I realised that being able to take a shorthand note or report on a news story wasn’t too helpful when standing in the middle of a field surrounded by ewes. So, I learned to deliver lambs and went to milk cows and I love it.”

'One Ear' gives the book her seal of approval

Mrs Crawford started penning her adventures for her family and friends in England and before she knew it, she had the makings of a book.

“I wrote everything down; from learning how to milk cows to delivering my first lamb, which was an amazing but very surreal experience,” Mrs Crawford explains.

“The book features the cast of our woolly friends, including ‘One Ear’, ‘Squeak’, ‘Frazzle’ and ‘Deck’ who all have their own stories to tell. They say there is a book in every journalist and that is probably where it should stay, but I have written one anyway.

“I hope my story will make people laugh and smile, especially during these difficult times. I also hope it will remind them that it is never too late to make a fresh start, find true love - or learn to lamb!”

Holly with some of the pet lambs.

Holly’s new book will be officially launched at The Secret Bookshelf in Carrickfergus on Monday (May 2). During the event, which will run from 2pm to 4pm, visitors will be able to get their copies signed and hear the author read extracts.

“I am delighted to be working with Jo and the wonderful team at The Secret Bookshelf which is a vibrant local business which really supports local authors and of course, bookworms.”

Jo said: “This is such a lovely book set in Islandmagee and we are very happy to be working with Holly and helping to promote her first book. Book signings and meet the author events are always good fun, especially on bank holidays and we hope to see as many of our local bookworms and new visitors as possible.”

Stuck In The Middle With Ewe: Or How I found my flock and lost my heart in Northern Ireland, is published by The Conrad Press priced at £9.99. Copies are available from the author, email: [email protected]

Holly with Jo Zebedee (left), owner of The Secret Bookshelf in Carrickfergus.

It is also available from The Secret Bookshelf in Carrickfergus, The Rinkha in Islandmagee and The Vintage Time Traveller in Whitehead and can be ordered from a growing number of high street bookshops. The ebook is available to buy online.

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