The Salt Path by Raynor Winn was published in 2018 and everybody seemed to be reading it then – which is why I wasn’t. I actually bought a jigsaw puzzle of the book cover fairly recently, the artist is Angela Harding and I really like her style.
Raynor and Moth Winn had been married for 32 years when they were told that he was terminally ill with a neurological condition, days after that devastating news their long legal battle to stop their home and business from being repossessed came to an end and they were suddenly homeless. With nowhere to live they decided to go on a long walk along the South West of England Coast Path, it was something they had always wanted to do anyway. They wild camped most of the time and had to live on £48 a week benefits, which for some reason dwindled to about £30 a week fairly quickly.
Another reason why it has taken me so long to get around to reading this one is that I thought it might be a bit depressing, at times it is as they encountered more and more problems along the way, but there are uplifting moments, as well as the frustrating ones when I asked myself – ‘how could they have been so stupid?’ from time to time.
Moth’s health fluctuates, but mainly the walking regime seems to have helped his condition. There’s some humour and some serious comments on the horrendous problem of homelessness in the UK, which those in power make sure is very much under-reported. Winn also mentions that she and her husband didn’t get Legal Aid for their legal problem despite them having no money. It’s totally bizarre that millionaire Boris Johnson allegedly (according to the newspapers) DID get Legal Aid recently. How is that possible?
I quite enjoyed this book which has some lovely descriptions of scenery and nature and interesting characters met along the way, but mainly I was glad that we visited Cornwall about 30 years ago as the coastal towns seem to have been swamped by visitors nowadays, and it’s sad when so many houses which should be family homes have become businesses rented out for holiday homes. It’s almost as bad in the east coast of Scotland too.
I think her book Landlines features a walk along a Scottish pathway, so I might eventually read that one.
A Year Unfolding by Angela Harding, A printmaker’s view, is a lovely book. I asked Jack to buy me a copy for our fairly recent wedding anniversary. Actually it was supposed to be for my birthday but he didn’t get around to getting a copy fast enough for that!
You might have seen Angela Harding’s art illustrating various magazine articles, but it’s so much nicer to have them in a book. The art is accompanied by her thoughts on what has inspired her over the years and often her memories of being in the countryside and by the sea. There are quite a few poems by Welsh poet Edward Thomas, mainly on the subject of nature.
It didn’t take me long to read A Year Unfolding but it’s the sort of book that I’ll be dipping into constantly, just to savour the illustrations and prose. A real treat.
October, October by Katya Balen was published in 2020 and it won the Carnegie Medal in 2022.
October is 11 years old and she’s named after the month she was born in as after trying out many names October was the only one which didn’t bounce off the walls and hit the floor with a thud – according to her father. October and her father live in a wood, it’s an alternative way of life with no frills, but as October has only known that life she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on anything. They do a big shop in a nearby town once a year for the things that they aren’t able to grow themselves. The woman who is my mother, as October refers to her mother decided that she couldn’t live that sort of life any more and went to live a ‘normal’ life in London, leaving October with her father. October refuses to have anything to do with her.
Although October doesn’t go to school and has no friends except her father she is being educated by her dad, she even helps him with the solar panels that provide their electricity and of course she knows a lot about the wildlife in the woodand, they’re living a wild life themselves. After a storm October finds a dead owl and when they find a tiny baby owl alive on the ground her father tells her to leave it alone to let its mother pick it up, but the next day it’s still there and October decides to rescue it, her dad isn’t happy about it but sets about getting food for the baby owl.
When October’s father has an accident it leads to October having to communicate with her despised mother and what seemed like a disaster eventually has a silver lining.
This is a lovely read which is illustrated by the artist Angela Harding, the illustrations are all small and they’re all of Stig the owl, but she also designed the book cover, I really like her style.