The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

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.

The Book of Beginnings by Sally Page

The Book of Beginnings by Sally Page was just published last year and it’s a Sunday Times best seller, I tend not to read many best sellers, I read about this one on a blog recently though and decided to get it from the library. I’m really glad that I did as it ended up being an uplifting read.

Jo had recently been dumped by James, her boyfriend of six years. It’s only then that she realises that nobody else liked him, but she had been besotted with James and had neglected old friends to be with him and his even more obnoxious cronies. What is worse is that Jo had been desperate to start a family and now she feels time running out for her, she’s in her late 30s and James had been several years younger than her. As they had worked at the same company it seemed a good idea to leave that job, and Jo travels to London to help out at her uncle’s stationery shop while he is in hospital. It’s a place that she has fond memories of as she used to help her uncle there during school holidays.

The work, stationery bits and pieces, and the customers she meets in the shop begin to have a healing effect on Jo, especially two of them who become close friends, despite them being quite a bit older.  One of them Jo has recognised from the TV news, Ruth is a runaway vicar – what is she running from?  Malcolm is over 70, but is still haunted by a decision he had made in the past.  He also has an interest in Highgate Cemetery which is nearby, and his project draws the three of them into close companionship which begins to heal them all.

I really enjoyed this one.