Walling Glory

It’s almost that time of year when Janet and I meet up for our AGM.

Well, we call it our AGM, but it’s more of a good natter over a pub lunch and a check to see what we’ve both been up to, to be honest!

My previous 12 months is usually pretty standard:  making a living from communication in all its forms, whereas Janet’s year is invariably much more noteworthy.  So, I thought I’d make a note in blog post form of just what Janet has been doing over the last 12 months in order to make a living and then share it with you.

You may not know this, but Janet is an accomplished dry stone waller.

Janet Holt dry stone wall Derbyshire
One of Janet’s finished dry stone walls, Derbyshire, July 2017

Seven years ago, while interviewing Janet for The Stranger In My Life, we discussed what she’d had to do in order to earn a living following the two years she spent in prison in the 1990s.

Going back to work as a legal executive was obviously no longer an option and neither, initially, was farming. Yes, Ball Beard Farm was still in existence and yes, Janet still owned it, but there were no animals and Janet could not afford to restock as she had no money – and plenty of debts.

Following a stint working in a factory she built up a bit of capital and began to think about utilising the one asset she did have and that she knew was in demand – the dying art of dry stone walling.

A  local college was advertising for a dry stone walling tutor and Janet applied.

She ought really to have been a dead cert for the job but her two years in prison proved an issue and she was rejected.

Janet Holt dry stone wall Derbyshire
A before image of one of Janet’s dry stone walls

Most people would have taken no for an answer, but Janet questioned the decision. Surely, she must have been one of the most qualified applicants for the job?

Eventually the college accepted this fact and she was offered the position.

Twenty years later she is still building those walls:  a living testimony to a dying art.

Janet Holt dry stone wall Derbyshire
Janet’s finished dry stone wall, Derbyshire 2017

In 2018 the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain celebrates its 50th anniversary.

I must remember to tell Janet when we have our AGM next week…






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