How it all began

Let us tell you a little about us. Whilst we both are keen gardeners and cooks, I love to write, so it is from me, Sue, that the words on this website will come.

I have my parents and grandparents to thank for my love of gardening, preserving and crafting. One of my earliest memories, is as a small girl, helping my Nan and Grandad to pick runner beans and tomatoes and selling them on the pavement in brown paper bags. Fast forward fifty years, and I now grow my own fruit and veg, make jams and pickles, and love to cook and be creative.

I have my parents and grandparents to thank for sowing the seeds.  I am also so grateful to be married to a man who shares my passion for gardening and sustainable living and can share this way of life with me.

Gardening tips and advice can be found on the Bridge Cottage Garden page.

Early days

I met Tim, my husband when I was at teacher training college in London – I was at college with his sister, and we got married in 1987. We had an allotment back then, and it was our pride and joy.

We pushed our wheelbarrow through the streets of Norton on Teesside laden with forks and spades and were proud of what we grew there. Imagine our horror when we arrived one morning to find our beautiful rows of chicory, beans and cabbages slashed to the ground. We were devastated and vowed to try to move to the countryside.

Moving on

I was teaching in Hartlepool at the time, and Tim was an accountant on Teesside, so that limited the distance we could travel for work. We began to look for property and to cut a long story short, ended up in Upper Weardale, buying two derelict lead miner’s cottages and an acre of land, saying ‘sod the jobs’. We stayed there for fifteen years, renovated the cottages, had three children and lived happily as hippies in the hills.

We left our ‘proper’ jobs and got part-time work at Killhope Leadmining Centre, sharing the childminding duties. We lived on next to nothing and learnt to make the most of what we had. The weather was so extreme living high in the North Pennines, that gooseberries would be blown off the bush before they were ripe, so we built a polytunnel and grew our veg in that.

We learnt to forage, and find food for free: wild garlic, blackberries, nettles, elderflowers and later elderberries all made their way into the kitchen. We made our own wine, beer and learnt to cook simply with what was in season and what we were able to grow. You’ll find seasonal eating recipes on this website, and more general preserving and cooking advice from The Bridge Cottage Kitchen


Fast forward to 2003 and we moved to Bridge Cottage in beautiful rural Northumberland. We have a large garden, with its own babbling burn running alongside, and we have created spaces for vegetables, fruit, chickens and a greenhouse. Tim has even built a sauna down the bottom of the garden. The children have now flown the nest, and Tim and I are entering a new phase, with more time for the garden, and more time to share our knowledge. I’m currently studying for a MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and hope very much to develop my writing about sustainable living. I’d dearly love a column in a magazine or newspaper and to write The Bridge Cottage Way Year Book.

(You can follow my writing journey over at and on social media under the same name.)


These are difficult days for many. As temperatures rise and whole swathes of rain forest are chopped down to make way for high intensive farming, the climate crisis is an emergency.

We are, as I write, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, with a global recession, and food poverty a tragic fact of life for so many.

It has never been more important to grow our own food, share and shop locally, and live as simply as we can. Mass consumerism has wreaked havoc on our world. The bubble has burst, and the time for transition is now.  We need to collectively reduce the drain on the planet’s resources.

We are not experts, nor do we have all the answers, but we try to live as sustainably as possible. The Bridge Cottage Way is here to share what we have learnt and hope we can inspire you along the way.

For more specific chat about sustainability, head over to the Sustainable Living page

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To keep up to date with the goings-on at Bridge Cottage as the seasons come and go, sign up to the mailing list. We will be sharing seeds, giving live demonstrations and hosting virtual events, so don’t miss out!

We won’t bombard you with emails, but will be sending out a newsletter on the Summer and Winter Solstice, and the Spring and Autumn Equinox.

The Bridge Cottage Way

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More videos coming soon, but for now, a moment of calm in this troubled world.