Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Island on the Edge: a Life on Soay by Anne Cholawo





As described above Anne buys a house on Soay (which was where Lilian Beckwith lived) on a whim, having little idea what she is putting herself in for. When she was seven she wrote an essay which began: 'When I grow up I want to live in the middle of nowhere". Well, this is it. Having little idea of what she is going to live on (apart from some savings), she sells her house and moves north. As she says in a newspaper interview : "I was naive: I thought I would come here, live in a lovely little cottage, look at the view, paint pictures, sell them, and just enjoy the ambience of the place. I didn’t really understand anything at all"

Kind people help her move her stuff to the island and introduce her to how things work (the mailboat, which also carries all supplies she has to order, only calls once a month). It is not the first time she has to depend on the kindness of strangers. Prime example of course is Robert Cholawo, who succeeds in having a navy helicopter move her piano to the island. She later marries Robert.

I liked the first chapters of the book best: Anne describes how she sets up home and gets to know the island and the people who live there, among them the couple Tex and Jeanne Geddes (Tex was Gavin Maxwell's partner in his shark oil factory, which he set up in the late 1940's). She often goes out fishing with Tex. Anne's house has no electricity, water comes from a well.


Anne and Robert organize an exhibition on the island of Muck, to which both contribute paintings. Selling some of them brings in some money as does selling winkles which she picks on the shore. She becomes more involved in island life, helping Jeanne and Tex round up sheep and assisting with slaughter and butchering. I was very surprised to read that she had not had one thought about being self-sufficient (well, she did say she was naive ... ) and only starts growing vegetables because her neighbours convince her to. To her suprise this is a success.


Over the years she adjusts to living on the island and to looking after herself. I would have loved more details on day to day living and a map of the house and the island. Instead, a  large part of the book is devoted to stories about the boats she uses, which I must confess I did not find very interesting.

When Anne comes to live on the island there are 17 inhabitants. From the early nineties the population starts to decline and when she writes the book there are only three people living there. A recurring theme in the books in this blog: living this way is hard work. "People often ask us how we fill our time. Unless you actually live on Soay it is impossible to understand what is required to maintain a decent and comfortable lifestyle on an under-developed island. It's a bit like constantly spinning plates on poles. You have to run from one to another to keep them going before they fall off. " But: "Today, as I write this on a cold, blustery evening sitting by the wood-burning stove, I think of how priviliged, blessed and lucky we have been to have had the chance to live out so much of out lives on such a magical and peaceful island. Even if it had to end tomorrow, we could not have asked for more."

Here is a very nice podcast where you can listen to Anne. This dates from 2021, so it would seem she and Robert are still on the island.

Friday, 18 November 2022

A little more on A Patch in the Forest by Elizabeth West

Blogreader Philippa tells me that she was able to find a copy of Elizabeth West's 'A Patch in the Forest' for £4 in Hay on Wye! Lucky her!

She also shared some information on the location of the house Elizabeth and Alan lived in:

I think that the house Elizabeth describes was in the Parkend area - the drawing of the church in the final chapter is unmistakeably St Paul's at Parkend, it is one of three churches in the Forest that are old enough to match her description - and the only one that has no stained glass and is surrounded by trees.  She mentions the local silver band being formed in 1893, and while Parkend Silver Band folded in the mid 20th century, it was then restarted a few years later and would have been active while she was writing the book.  I'm not aware of any other Silver Band in the Forest that started at the right time and was still active when the book was published.  Also, the tourist attractions she mentions in her book - Clearwell, Puzzle Wood, Mallards Pike, Soudley etc. form a circle with Parkend at the centre.  Of course, it is not possible to narrow down the house any further, but I thought you might be interested at least to know the name of the church. I certainly was!

Drawing of the church

Photo of the church

Tuesday, 25 October 2022

A Fenland Smallholding by Pam Bowers, with illustrations by Pete Westcott (1986)



"This is the story of small beginnings; how a family started with nothing and worked up to seven acres. It tells of all the mistakes we made along the way; and rather than being a "how-to-do-it", a more apt title would have been "How not to be a smallholder."" Pam and Rick Bowers certainly made a mistake buying Ivy Cottage (with one acre of land and three glasshouses) near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, without taking expert advice. The house needs so much repair that, in Pam's words "just the walls and window frames were to remain". Fortunately, they qualify for a council grant.

At Ivy Cottage "we did all the things we had moved into the country to do, with such serious dedication that it amounted to near fanaticism; we bought the chickens and the goat; we worked the land and reaped the harvest, storing it as housewives of bygone days always did." They also grow strawberries, while husband Rick finds work to supplement their income. I always find it fascinating when writers include lists of their expenditure. Here's Pam's (from 1975):

After five years they move to Fir Tree Cottage in Lincolnshire, which comes with 7 acres of land. "This time round we had more idea of what to look for when buying an old property".

When they move to Ivy cottage they have one son, Jade. They later have three more children: Dicken, Clyde and Bryony. Pam does not give us much domestic detail, nor does she tell us much about family life; instead she concentrates on all the activities on the farm and readers can certainly learn from their experiences and mistakes. There are chapters on growing strawberries and flowers, picking fruit, making cheese, making hay, keeping chickens, goats, rabbits, pigs, bees, sheep, cows, geese and turkeys. Pam becomes interested in dying the wool from their sheep with vegetable dye and she explains the process and includes a list of plants to use. Still needing extra income they install and fit out a caravan, which they rent out to holiday makers.

 They suffer draughts, blizzards, heatwaves and very cold winters but even with setbacks there is no place they would rather be: the last chapter is titled: "But there is nothing else we would rather do".

After all these years the farm is still going strong. "Strawberry Fields", as it is now called, is run by Pam and her children. They now specialise in growing vegetables. Listen to their story on On Your Farm

Pam can be followed on Twitter at

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Take Not Out Mountain by Dorothy Campion (1957)




The book starts with this quote, and you know hard times are to come.

This is the story of Dorothy and Whay Campion and their life at Nyth Bran, near Capel Curig in Wales. Whay has lived there for six years, "rebuilding his health and his nerves". Coming from a privileged background Dorothy needs time to get used to life in the hills, in a house with no running water or electricity. Her first winter is a very cold one. At first they only keep sheep. Though the fox kills a number of lambs their first lambing season is successful and they make a profit.

During the following years they slowly expand their flock, keep chickens and pigs and start plowing the land to grow crops.  Life on the farm is tough and they have a hard time getting by. But fate deals them more blows: when Jane is on her own the roof catches fire and the house can only just be saved. Worse still, Jane is hit by a falling tree and her injuries mean she cannot have children. Some time later they decide to adopt, and a baby boy, Robert, enters their life. Strangely, they decide to pretend Robert is their own baby and Dorothy even goes so far as to wear a pillow under her clothes to pretend she is pregnant. The story then takes a very strange and sad turn: an anonymous letter to the authorities about Whay's past illness sets wheels in motion and Robert is taken way from them.

This book is unique in my collection because it deals with the author's personal life, her feelings of guilt at not being able to have children and the couple's sadness at losing their adopted boy. Dorothy is very much in awe of "her man" but she also stands up for herself and, perhaps unusually for the fifties, makes Whay and herself talk about little Robert to deal with their grief.

The book ends on a positive note: "So we renewed out hope in life and in ourselves and out future plans. Next year we would clear a further six acres adjoining the three we had already ploughed. We would sow another crop of rape. Rape would be followed by rye grass, rye grass would make hay. Eventually we would try to run a few cattle on the land."

"The heartaches and the happinesses have given us all we could ask, and our land will live for others when we are gone. I'm proud to have been able to share your life, your work, your sheep and your lovely green mountain. Thanks so much, Whay".


As far as I know Dorothy wrote two further books: The Perfect Team (1959, about police dogs), and 1,000 Feet Up (1955, selling for 342 pounds on Abebooks!)

In the late nineties, on a visit to Wales I went to Capel Curig and found Nyth Bran (it is marked on Ordnance Survey maps). The house was surrounded by trees, bracken and a barbed wire fence and looked very dilapidated. I could not get very close to take a better photo.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

The Island House by Mary Considine (2022)

While travelling in southwest England in June I naturally visited every bookshop I saw. As I did not have room in my luggage for many books I made a note of possible titles for the blog, planning to order them once I returned home. But leafing through this book I suddenly read: "The Atkins sisters" and realized it was a book about their island. Of course I just had to buy it at once. 

As a child Mary Considine, with her family, spent many summers on Looe island, then owned by Evelyn (known as Attie) and Babs Atkins. Later she becomes part of their "shifting army of helpers". Having only read Evelyn's description of life on the island I found it interesting to read about Mary's experiences. It sounds like Babs and Evelyn weren't the easiest people to get along with. They fiercely guarded their privacy and discouraged any visitors to their home: "The sisters, in their fortress, were all-powerfull, fascinating, alarming. Attie, the elder sister, and author of bestseller We Bought an Island - signed copies available in the craft shop - was larger than Babs, more aloof, increasingly only sporadically involved in wider island life. They sported matching grey perms and glasses, but Attie's shrewd eyes were magnified behind thicker lenses, and her mood was always unpredictable. Babs, ten years younger, and not long retired from her teaching career, seemed to us the practical one, who handled bookings for helpers and holidaymakers and met everyone who set foot here. Attie, the nickname from her wartime stint in the WRNS, had been the driving force behind their move to the island in the sixties: ten or twenty or thirty years later, she still wielded powerful charm and was given to expansive passions." When Mary's mother, a well-regarded poet with many publications and prizes to her name, produced a book of island-based poems, dedicated to the sisters, they maintained a stony silence until she finally asked what they thought. "Not a very happy choice, was the frosty response. There was only space for one writer on the island".

Years later Mary and her partner Patrick live in London. They buy a cottage in Looe, the same house the Atkins sisters first bought when they came to Cornwall. After a difficult time with infertility treatment, IVF and Mary's father's illness and death they feel a need to commit to Cornwall full-time (Patrick can work from home). They apply to "island sit"while the regular wardens go on holiday, and they get the job. They love it and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust allows them to live permanently in Island House. This is five years after Babs' death. The plan is "for us to renovate the house, sympathetically (it is unlisted) and with as much use of "green" technology as possible, in return for a long lease. (...) I kept wondering what Babs and Attie would have thought: of their house being lived in by other people, of those other people being me and my husband. I wondered if Babs would haunt me."

Mary and Patrick move to the island and start on the renovations. With the weather being very unpredictable, transport to the the island proves difficult. They employ builders and also get a lot of help from family and friends. They keep pigs, chickens and bees and have a fairly successful vegetable patch. Mary dreams of flowers and buys lots of plants. "The trembling plants are doomed by my relentless optimism, by the gleeful snails, and most of all by the wind, careering in from the south-east with salt in its mouth to burn and wither almost everything I plant."

They don't seem to get on with boats and machinery. When they try out their first boat the engine fails and they only just manage to return to the island. Other boats don't last long and the range cooker, generator, wind turbine and quad bike all give them endless trouble.



After their first winter, they settle "into the good life, chipping away at painting the outside walls (...), fine-tuning the electrical and water systems, scrubbing old slate floors and making endless fixes to the house. Patrick and Justin's (Patricks business partner) business is still in its infancy and money is tight, but we're not worried yet. We are content with each other, our dog and cats, the sound of the gulls and the light on the water". Actually, I could not really tell if Mary was really happy on the island, living there seemed to come with a lot of stress.

After a few years Patrick (who is profoundly deaf and gets help from "hearing dog" Skip) develops health problems and for a while Mary is in and out of hospital. They realize they will have to leave the island. After a final Christmas party and a final summer they move to Devon, having spent 6,5 years on the island.

Mary has a tendency to jump from past to present and back again in her story, while mixing present and past tenses. This made for confusing reading. I wanted so much to like this book and found that I did not, I got stuck half way and had to force myself to finish it. I don't really know why. Evelyn's books seem to have been written as one long chat and could have done with some editing. Yet I found them fascinating. Mary probably put a lot of thought into her book and had the help of experts, and I find her book boring. If you have read the book, please let me know what you think.


My posts about Evelyn's books can be found here  and here

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Katharine Stewart: A Croft in the Hills (1960, my edition from 1994), illustrated by Anne Shortreed


In the 1950's Jim and Katherine Stewart long to get out of the city and when they see an ad for a house plus 40 acres, they quickly set off to see it and buy it. The croft is situated in Abriachan, nearly 1000 feet above sea level and can only be reached on foot. When they move in (with their small daugher Helen) there is no piped water supply and no electricity. A winddriven dynamo provides them with light (after a few years a hydro-electric scheme will provide electricity).  They get to know their neighbours and begin to understand "what good-neighbourliness can mean in lonely places. Since that day, we have borrowed and lent everything from a loaf of bread to a broody hen and have exchanged services of every kind, from a hand at the dipping to the rescue of a snow-bound truck. We are all faced with the same fundamental problems and we have learnt how utterly dependent we are upon one another in dealing with them." During their first spring they buy a small tractor and a plough and start to work on their farm. They are able to buy a neighbouring property to extend it. This also gives them access to a road. This farm comes with cattle, hens, sheep, goats, ducks and Charlie the pony. From the start they realize that what they are doing can never be more than subsistence farming. "As a business proposition its appeal was abolutely nil, but, of course, we had never looked at it strictly in that light. As a way of life it had endless fascination and reward."

Their aim is to be as self-sufficient as possible. They need to buy little, except clothes. During the years that follow they sell and buy cattle, buy more chickens, grown corn, keep pigs, grow vegetables, cut peat and keep sheep.

To make ends meet Jim needs to take a job and Katherine starts to write. "In a flash it came to me: might not people who were forced to spend their working hours between walls like to hear about what went on in a hill-top croft, of how it was possible to get an immense amount of fun and satisfaction out of lifting loads of mud into a cart, even though your boots were leaking and you knew there was not enough in the kitty to buy another pair?" She sends off an article to a Glasgow newspaper, who are not interested, but much to her suprise and joy The Weekly Scotsman accepts it.

Daughter Helen thrives, making friends with neighbouring children, and walking home from  the school bus on her own: "She has always had to do the last bit of the road from school on her own, along the track, through the heather. Sometimes, if the day is really bad, we have hurried to meet her, for she still seems such a minute scrap of humanity, set against the vastness of hill and sky. But not once have we found her in the least disconcerted by snow, gale or thunder. She plods along, with a twinkle in her eye, taking whatever comes."

This is a classic, loved by many.

"There is certainly little room for dramatic highlights in this story of ours". This is very true. This is not a book to read if you want to know how to run a smallholding. This is about the rythm of the seasons and the joy in caring for oneself and sharing everything as a family. Describing it to someone the other day, I realised it sometimes reminded me of a children's book where there may be storms,  the farm may be completely snowed in, but inside all is warm, safe and cosy. "The following morning we awoke to the now familiar sound of a northerly gale tearing at us all day. We struggled out three times to see to the animals. The rest of the day we spent huddled at the livingroom fire, swathed in woollen garments, heating panfuls of broth and making tea and cocoa. Helen loved those days of storm, when we were marooned together cosily, in the firelight, with the world whirling madly outside the windowpanes."

My edition features a new postscript by the author, written in 1979. She describes how many things have changed in Scotland and some remain the same. Jim has died and Katharine now lives in the old school-house where she runs a (tiny) Post Office. Daughter Helen and her family live nearby on their small farm.

Kaherine went on to write many more books. She died in 2013. A very interesting obituary can be found here here .

Monday, 23 May 2022

Phil and Maureen Rooksby

Years ago I used to follow Elspeth Thompson's blog about her garden by the seaside, and I was shocked and saddened to read about her death in 2010. Yesterday I was leafing through her book A Tale of Two Gardens, and came upon a piece called 21st-Century Self-Sufficiency, about books written by Phil and Maureen Rooksby. I had never heard of them, so naturally I googled their names. And found a website called A Simpler Life , which includes free PDF's of their books. Worth a look!

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Living in The Netherlands: bridge poetry

London has Poems on the Underground, we have Bridge Poetry. As we spend quite some time waiting for ships to pass, there is time to read, and many bridges in Amsterdam and Rotterdam now feature poems:


Monday, 9 May 2022

Yorkshire Cottage, continued

A very kind lady from Quaker House sent me the following information, on children being excluded from WWII evacuation schemes, as mentioned in Yorkshire Cottage by Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley (see earlier post):

I think this book has slightly mis-represented the situation at the time. Firstly, Quakers could only bring over children under the government scheme, so they would not have been able to bring over any refugee children who did not meet the criteria of the scheme. The criteria for rescuing refugees would have been about establishing whether the children were ‘in danger’ from the Nazi regime as opposed to their racial profile – although of course it was the Nazi’s racial profiling of citizens which led to them being in danger.

The Jewish relief agencies, and the non-Jewish relief agencies (Quaker, Catholic etc) in the UK, agreed amongst themselves to divide up the refugees into those who identified as Jewish, and those who did not identify as Jewish (but whom the Nazis decided to persecute as ‘non-Aryan’, usually as they had mixed parentage or a Jewish grandparent). So, Quakers tended to support refugees who were non-Jewish, or had mixed heritage, but not from any particular ethical stance, just as an effective way to organise the available resources and manage the caseload.

As far as I know, the government let the relief agencies on the ground assess who should qualify for the scheme – i.e. they let the relief agencies decide who was ‘deserving’, i.e. at risk of the Nazis. All the government was concerned with, was that financial support of a certain amount had been arranged for each child. You can read more about the Kindertransport here:

There are records for the Kindertransport children here:

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has information here:

I am not sure the child in question came over with the Kindertransport, as she was French and fled with her mother and brother. But it did make me feel better that  Ella Pontefract perhaps misunderstood the situation.

Monday, 18 April 2022

A Curious Thing in a Yorkshire Cottage

In my earlier post I wrote about Yorkshire Cottage by Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley. On page 101 of this book I came across this paragraph:

The text refers to a three year old girl who, with her mother and small brother, has fled from Belgium. Her father is 'interned' (= in a concentration camp) in France. She is being evacuated to Yorkshire and spends some time with Ella and Marie. 

According to this book being mixed race barred you from benefiting from Government evacuation schemes. Can this be true? I keep coming back to this paragraph as is just sounds so cruel. I have contacted a few organisations about this, but so far have received no replies. If anyone can shed any light on this, or if you know of any sources I could use, I would be most grateful.

Monday, 4 April 2022

Yorkshire Cottage by Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley (1942)




This book was bought by Marjorie and William Blake on 29 October 1942, and the authors signed it on 15 April 1943.

Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley wrote about the social history of the Yorkshire Dales. In the late 1930's they buy an old cottage in a Yorkshire village. The name of the village is not mentioned in the book, but Wikipeda tells us it is Askrigg. 

(a garth is an enclosed yard)

The first part of the book tells the story of how they rebuild, decorate and furnish the house. We also learn a lot of the people (especially local craftsmen) they meet, with conversations in the local dialect.

Only part of the rebuilding is finished when war breaks out. 'For us life altered in a night. It became a confused programme of learning to drive ambulances, of attending first aid and antigas lectures, and of helping to sort the scanty A.R.P. equipment which was all that was allowed us in those early days. (...) Amid these duties the cottage seemend unreal, as if it were something we had known long ago.' Materials and men become scarce, but two and a half years after they bought the cottage they move in as permanent residents. Some of their furniture they buy from Thompson's in Kilburn. This furniture was and is famous for having a mouse carved somewhere on it. 

The second half of the book describes their first year in the cottage.

There is some talk of soldiers, refugees and evacuees, but otherwise the war does not seem to impinge very much and life goes on in the Dales much as it always did. I can see why this book might have been popular during the war. It is like one long cosy fireside chat about things that have always been so and will never change. The landscape, the climate, the well, the garden, the village: life goes on. Parts of this book I found, dare I say it, a little boring, but I am sure lots of people will find it the ulitimate comfort read.

Monday, 14 March 2022

A House by the Shore: Twelve Years in the Hebrides, by Alison Johnson, with illustations by Christine Dodd (1986)


Alison and Andrew meet at Oxford and, after finishing their studies, don't want to join the ratrace. What will they do? Andrew is a good handyman and Alison is a good cook. Thinking about their interests, gradually a plan emerges: they will buy a large and derelict old house, near the sea and in the country, restore it and run it as a hotel. For this of course they need money and they decide to become teachers. After a postgraduate course in Aberdeen they find jobs on Harris, where they spend three years teaching, living in a rented house and getting to know the island, the islanders and the weather (which can be vicious). After three years they discover an old and derelict house, a former manse (Scottish term for a dwelling of a minister of the Church), near Scarista Bay, and they manage to buy it. 'We wanted everyone to come and see this miracle. Those who did were inexpressibly shocked". 'The house itself had about 19 rooms, but the six in the attic had insufficient headroom to comply with building regulations, and the two outlying single-storey wings at the front had their internal access blocked up. They and the ground floor of the back wing were the most derelict parts: very derelict indeed."  

First of all they set out to make a few rooms habitable (so they can live there) and to restore the water and electricity supply. They start to keep hens and make first attempts at a vegetable garden. At first they combine doing up the manse with teaching, but it is slow going: 'At this rate it would be ten years till we were finished". They resign in September 1977, a year after buying the manse. Months of hard work follow, repairing the roof, walls, floors, doors, windows, the list seems never ending. 


There are nine months between stopping teaching and opening day, and this is barely enough. Furniture and furnishings have to be bought, mostly on the mainland as very little is available on Harris. 'We were amazed and amused that bookings were coming in at all. Our attempts at publicity had been very haphazard. As we were starting with only four bedrooms we did not need to attract large numbers of customers. (...) Looking back, it is suprising anyone came at all.' On the last day their neighbours help to clean the whole house. 'Next morning we stepped out of our filthy attic into a house unnaturally clean and luxurious." Once the guests start coming the kitchen becomes Alison's domain, while Andrew is 'front of house'. There is still lots to do, doing up the remainder of the house, cleaning and ordering food, supply being a problem as little is available on Harris itself. The hotel is closed in winter giving them time to catch up.

The hotel had brought them self-confidence and a flourishing reputation - even some money. But: 'by the end of the second season, we could see it coming. We had proved to ourselves that we could what we set out to do, and after that we felt aimless, marking time until some new goals surfaced.' They keep going for a good few years though, inventing new projects, like creating a new dining room, building a cottage for the housekeeper and her family, and building a new block with extra rooms. 

The last chapter is called Dropping Out Again? They are looking for something new, but don't know yet what it will be.

On the surface this is a perfectly pleasant book. However, there were several things about it I did not like. Alison and Andrew seem to think teaching a useless activity, so I was glad to read they gave it up. Also, Alison has a way of being self deprecating which irritated me. Its seems everything they do is amateurish, falls to pieces, goes wrong, but then in the next paragraph they are running a successful hotel. And I can't stand people who can't control their dogs and who think that's funny. Alison thinks it is hilarious and devotes a whole chapter to their dog. So, all in all, not one of my favourite books!

As for a new venture, Andrew, Alison and Sarah (their daughter) Johnson now run The White Horse Press.  An interview with Sarah (referring to her childhood on Harris) can be found here.  Scarista House is now run by Tim and Patricia Martin.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Living in The Netherlands: Water and Bridges

I would guess that most of my readers live in English speaking countries. So I thought it a nice idea to, every now and then, give you a glimpse into what it is like to live in The Netherlands. First stop: water!

We live in a large (by Dutch standards) town, round the corner from a large canal. There is a bridge we cross often to visit the supermarket and the open air market or to go the metro station. It is a busy canal and the bridge opens at least once every hour to let the ships pass: empty ones on their way back to the locks and the port of Rotterdam, full ones on their way to Delft or inland ports further north. It is with reason that one of the most used excuses for being late at school is: 'de brug was open' (the bridge opened). Here is what the ships look like:

So, we were shocked to hear that a defect had been discovered which made it dangerous to open the bridge, necessitating urgent repairs. Suddenly the bridge stood open permanently, like this:

The small building on the right side of the bridge is the former 'brugwachtershuisje' ('bridgekeeper's house'), now a tiny coffee bar. The bridgekeeper now occupies the new building, just seen on the left of the bridge. From this building he can operate two other bridges as well.

All road traffic had to use other bridges.  For us, it meant about 30 minutes extra walk (though the council did operate a shuttle bus). After a few weeks we heard repairs where going to take longer than expected, and instead of a bus we would get a ferry! 

And here it is (the building above that bridge is also a bridgekeeper's house ). I suppose people in a hurry may dislike it, but we enjoy it. It feels like a tiny holiday every time you board. And also: people talk to each other.

I am sure we will miss it after the bridge is fixed!