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Susie Fowler-Watt: reminiscing on The Good Life

PUBLISHED: 09:40 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:40 24 April 2018

Move outside? You must be quackers! Susie's ducks enjoy taking refuge in the kitchen (photo: Susie Fowler-Watt)

Move outside? You must be quackers! Susie's ducks enjoy taking refuge in the kitchen (photo: Susie Fowler-Watt)

Archant

From ducks in the kitchen to fuel from old newspaper, there's a bit of the TV sitcom classic in Susie's household

On the day snow blanketed Norfolk a few weeks ago, our five year old son got out of bed, looked out of the window, and yelled “this is the best day of my life!”

He had never seen anything like it, and I have to admit, I was quite excited too. Not only was it startlingly beautiful, everything sounded different, as it was muffled by the snow. Hardly any cars came down our lane all day. It was serene and peaceful.

The next morning, though, the wind had changed... literally. We awoke to find our village was one of several completely cut off by huge snowdrifts. I filmed Alex on his mobile phone as he reported for Look East about the Arctic conditions. It felt like we were in a blizzard as the snow was being blown off the fields straight at us.

In this modern age, where we’re all so connected and there seems to be a work-around for everything, it felt very odd to meet high walls of snow on every road out. In fact there was no sign of roads at all.

By the third day, the “best day of my life” was wearing a bit thin. Milk was running out (too many hot chocolates), and the snowball fights were becoming less enthusiastic.

The only members of the family hoping for the freezing conditions to continue were our three ducks, who were firmly encamped in our kitchen. We had taken pity on them as the wind chill started to bite, and having won their upgrade, they were in no mood to budge!

I have to admit there is a touch of The Good Life about our house. I watched some reruns of the 1970s series with my parents when I was staying with them a few weeks ago and was reminded of just how funny they were.

In fact, I could have been seven again, sitting with my family, laughing at Tom and Barbara’s antics. Not many modern comedies make me guffaw like that.

Apart from having the ducks in the kitchen because it’s chilly outside, Alex uses his own urine on the compost (apparently it helps speed up the chemical process, making it a better fertiliser). He also gets a second use out of everything - cereal bags, chicken bones, stale bread. He cleans and reuses tin foil, and went through a phase of making bricks out of old newspapers to feed the wood-burner.

So, yes, Alex is like Tom in many ways. Unfortunately – for him and for me – I am nothing like Barbara!

Final push for each

Over the years I’ve been privileged to be able to make a number of films for BBC Look East at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice in Quidenham. My first visit had a profound effect on me. I wasn’t expecting to find a place filled with fun and laughter, but amid all the stress and sadness that having a sick child brings, EACH was clearly bringing comfort and joy.

The charity cares for children who have a life-limiting condition, filling their days with light and music and stimulation, but it also supports the whole family. Siblings are allowed to snuggle up in bed with their sick brothers or sisters; when a child dies, the care continues for the bereaved family left behind.

The only problem with Quidenham is the building itself – it’s not designed for wheelchairs and other equipment that takes up a lot of space.

That’s why the charity is now building the nook, a purpose-built centre outside Norwich, for which it has been fundraising for a number of years.

The target was set at £10 million and it is now at nearly £8 million. Work has started and it plans to move in this time next year. It’s had the support of their patron, the Duchess of Cambridge, and ambassador Ed Sheeran. But the money has come from you: the people and businesses of East Anglia.

In March I was the host at the nook Ball at Thursford, a beautiful event supported by many local companies. This is what community is all about: we help one 
another. I hope everyone will keep going, for this last great push, to get EACH all the way to its target.

susie.fowler-watt@bbc.co.uk

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