19 November 2020

Uplifting

It took me five days to read "The Salt Path" by Raynor Winn. And what a delight it was!

It is a true story about a long distant walking route in the south west of England. Beginning at Minehead in Somerset, the "salt path" or South West Coastal Path hugs the coast through Devon and Cornwall all the way to Land's End where it turns and heads east along the south coast to Poole in Dorset. Six hundred and thirty miles in total.

in 2014, Raynor Winn and her husband Moth became unexpectedly homeless. They were in their early fifties. What could they do? Despite Moth having a life-threatening condition they decided to set off walking.

They had very little money and only basic equipment, including two cheap sleeping bags. Some days they had nothing to eat and they wild camped almost all the way just to save money.

On the walk they discovered inner reserves of strength and they witnessed Mother Nature in various guises - from nocturnal badgers to Atlantic storms and from baking sunlight to cliffs abundant with fossils. It was a journey of self-discovery.

Raynor Winn's style of writing is honest, easy and observant. She focuses on small aspects of everyday life. Her love for Moth is like the chain on a mighty anchor and though times get tough she retains a priceless positivity.

When it comes to reading, we all have our own individual preferences. Maybe some would dismiss "The Salt Path" but I loved it. In this year of COVID 19 and worrisome uncertainty about the future of our planet, it was great to read a book that was so uplifting.

Though Raynor and Moth had nothing, they found something so special. Maybe there's a message there for the rest of us.

36 comments:

  1. A winning review of a brave book. To be homeless and broke. And to come out well !
    As Modigliani wrote on the back of one of his unsold canvases: *How many have been alone and desperate in Paris?* Or alone and desperate anywhere.

    *Skybound - One Woman's Journey in Flight* by Rebecca Loncraine (1974-2016) who, knowing she had breast cancer, learned to fly a glider ... over the Black Mountains of Wales, New Zealand's Southern Alps, and the Nepalese Himalayas. Inspiring.

    *Outpost* by Dan Richards who likes hard trekking and sleeping in tents and bothies in Norway, the desert of Utah, Washington State, Bordeaux in France, rural Japan, and the Cairngorms, Scotland. He writes like Bruce Chatwin, a poet of places.

    *Braiding Sweetgrass - Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants* by Robin Wall Kimmerer, an ecologist and anthropologist who is a member of the Potawatomi Nation. A deep book running to 380 pages.

    *Empires of the Indus - the Story of A River* by Alice Albinia, covering two thousand miles of rugged geography: Tibet, India, Pakistan, featuring the remote Kalash people who follow a non-Muslim religion that pre-dates Hinduism, and the Dropka nomads who live in Tibet, near the source of the Indus.

    *In Search of Kazakhstan - the Land That Disappeared* by Christopher Robbins*, a country the size of Western Europe, but largely cut off during the days of the Soviet empire. Cosmonauts were sent into space from Kazakhstan, and political dissenters were imprisoned there, exiled to Gulags built over sites where nuclear weapons were tested.

    *Shadow of the Silk Road* by Colin Thubron, now a classic, following the first great trade route out of China, through the mountains of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Kurdish Turkey. Thubron's words were quoted by Booker winner Madeleine Thien:
    *Of all the scenes that crowded the cave walls, the richest and most intricate were those of paradise.*

    *Blood of the Celts* by Jean Manco*: a heady mix of archaeology and the latest in DNA studies, tracing the wanderings of Europe's most enigmatic group of tribes, who baffled the Romans and fascinated Saint Patrick. Illustrated with maps, treasures, artefacts, carved stelas, and standing stones. I loved the genetics of the Picts !

    *Gigantic Cinema - A Weather Anthology* edited by poet Alice Oswald and publisher Paul Keegan. Coleridge, King Lear, Wordsworth, Verlaine, Ted Hughes, Ovid, Gilbert White, John Clare, Elizabeth Bishop, Yeats, and the Book of Job ... all described thunder, snowfall, draught, eclipses, strange lights in the sky.
    *Weather has no plot,* but it is nature above our heads, in our faces.



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    1. All the above books are available in paperback.

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    2. Thanks for leaving such an intriguing list John.

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  2. I've read the book thread bear. I've listened to it on tape, through and through, several times. I've talked about it on my blog. I've recommended it for it's simplicity and hopefulness. It is a book for this time--and I first read it several years ago.

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    1. I am glad you have rwad it Joanne but I believe the book was first published only two years ago.

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  3. I came to your blog because of its name. It brought back great memories. When I visited my pen pal in England her mother was a terrible cook but she made a great Yorkshire Pudding. She knew it was my favorite so she made it for me every time I visited (this is where I learned English.) You gave a great review of this book. I can’t imagine being homeless and walking so far. They certainly were not a couple of average people.

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    1. Thanks for calling by Vagabonde. I suppose that if you or I found ourselves in challenging situations we might also discover that we are not average.

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  4. This sounds like my kind of book. I will write the title on one of my little pieces of paper.

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    1. And then you will lose the little piece of paper!

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  5. Assuming they are an English couple, English people seem to be able to write such books particularly well. A book about walking the length of Hadrian's Wall? That doesn't sound interesting but it was fascinating. A book of observations during daily park visits? A best seller.

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    1. Yes. You could make a million with that idea Andrew but remember - it's the way you tell 'em!

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  6. This sounds like a wonderful book! I have read many other reviews of it as well and every one of them were very positive. We can all certainly appreciate a book that is uplifting such as this one. Thank you for your review!

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    1. This has been such a difficult year. "The Salt Path" is so hopeful. I hope ypu read it Bonnie.

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  7. My kind of book, definitely! It will go on my wish list. People have started asking what I would like for Christmas.
    I have nothing but respect for anyone who, in the face of adversity, takes their lives into their own hands, such as Raynor and Moth did.

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    1. PS: I have just seen and replied to your question after my comment on your previous post.

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    2. I think you would love "The Salt Path" - partly because it is about walking but also because it is about real people. Riley is eaier for me to say.

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  8. An inspiration for you perhaps to emulate your fellow Sheffield-connected walker, John Merrill, and do a really long distance walk - maybe the British coastline walk (7,000 miles). He said that every mile you walk extends your life by 21 minutes, It would give you an extra 102 days.

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    1. *Every mile you walk extends your life by 21 minutes.*
      Worth remembering.
      Green tea has had a tremendous effect on my health.
      Eating a portion of broccoli a day is essential for the prostate.
      One portion of mango a day boosts the immune system.
      Any other ideas, anyone?

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    2. Yes. Don't smoke cigarettes and avoid scotch whisky.

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  9. Also read it, a beautiful book about love and I think hope. There is a sequel of course 'The Wild Silence'. Luck came along to for the ride and the small flat offered at the end makes us realise people can be wonderful.

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    1. There can be magical, unexpected monents in these lives we lead... as Raynor and Moth discovered.

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  10. I'll look out for this on Amazon, and buy it for my Kindle.
    Some years ago my husband, the dog, and I, walked part of the path in Cornwall. We were spurred on by an amusing book called "500 Mile Walkies" - the same coastal walk, but seen from the perspective of a dog and his owner.

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    1. Raynor and Moth met many dog walkers on the route. It was 2014. Was that "some years ago" CG?

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    2. Early 90's, if my memory serves me right!

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  11. A lot of stuff is "uplifting" by proxy, read/watched from the safety of our cosy living room' sofas. I'll stop here (my first sentence not a critique of you), three now deleted drafts of reply later, expanding on the issue going into orbit as to fantasy and reality. Don't say I am not capable of self restraint.

    To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: "For every book deal born out of hardship there are thousands of people in the gutter with not a star in sight".

    U

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    1. Ask The Angel to buy you this book for Christmas Ursula. It would be interesting to discover what you make of it.

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  12. That sounds like a great book! I think I'll track down a copy. (Like I don't already have a teetering stack of stuff to read.)

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    1. You seem to get through lot of reading Steve - a lot more than me.

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  13. As you know, I read the book too and I was overwhelmed with the strength of the couple. I suppose it was a matter of one-foot-in-front-of-the-other.
    Interestingly, and sadly, the husband's diagnosis of corticobasal degeneration is the same one a friend of mine had and did eventually die from. The symptoms seem so different, though. My friend could not possibly have taken on a journey like that, even in the earlier stages. But it was so interesting to read about Moth's vast improvement as he walked and as his diet became so limited. One does wonder.

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    1. It's interesting that such an English book has been appreciated across the Atlantic.

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  14. A book has to hold my interest and this one did - highly recommend it!

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  15. I shall add it to my list of books thst I want to read.

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    1. It will be a good addition Sue. Perhaps Paul can get you it for Christmas.

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