How does someone work through the sudden death of a husband and father of their children? What is it like to be told you have cancer and to accept this reality? How tough is it to turn your back on the fixtures of a modern-day lifestyle and live self-sufficiently?
I was intrigued to hear about Fi Martynoga through my lovely friend Lorna McMillan, whose family lives close to Fi in the Scottish Borders.
I emailed and didn’t hear back for a while, then a few months later picked up a book about Scotland’s coasts on my Dad’s wee sailing boat. It was edited by Fi, and stoked my curiosity again. I sent her another note and this time she responded, apologetically, saying she’d had her hands full.
Having spoken to Fi now I am so grateful we were able to finally do this; for one thing she is rarely on the internet and recently took a year-long digital detox, and for another it has only been a matter of months since she was in hospital for a life-changing operation following rectal cancer.
Fi is a talented author writing about our natural environment and wildlife, and also a passionate environmentalist, museum researcher, mother and grandmother. Back in 2005 she created a unique venture for herself; to live self-sufficiently as if it were 1792, alone in a one-room outbuilding. Challenged by a journalist to show that an 18th-century diet was better than today’s, she recreated the authentic lifestyle of rural ancestors, living off her own produce and handcrafted resources. She resurrected a number of skills: bannocks as daily staples, quill pens, string from nettles, cheesemaking, flint fires and hand-sewn 18th century clothing.
Fi has been through more than self-designed challenges; she lost her husband very suddenly at the age of 46 when his aorta ruptured in a work meeting. In the blink of an eye she was a widow with two sons, questioning how to move forward.
Following an unlikely diagnosis of colorectal cancer last winter, Fi has also been through major treatment to remove her rectum, and adjusting to dependency on colostomy and the health system hasn’t been an easy road. She talks openly about this, and I was left feeling inspired by her strength and tenacity to keep going in life; her passion for knowing your own environment and living more sustainably; and the level of independence she has managed – and still manages after cancer treatment in her later years.
Her ambition for 2019? “To survive it”.
What a woman. You can find the episode from 8am GMT on Friday 12th April through Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher and TuneIn and most Android apps. Please help me get Fi’s life story out there by sharing on social and good old-fashioned word of mouth.
This is the LAST episode in series three! Fear not, I hope to have series four out in early June to keep you company for those summer training miles or commutes. Post coming soon on what to expect from the podcast for the rest of 2019.
Thanks for listening this season!