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Further detours have happened because of new development and re-routed paths. Having read that thousands of people, many of them from abroad, walk the Coast to Coast every year, we had expected that the route would be marked at least with basic short posts. We were wrong, very wrong. We reached the stone bridge and crossed, saying hello to three elderly men who were sat resting on the stones, reminding me of Last of the Summer Wine. They asked if we were doing the Coast to Coast and when we said yes they nodded solemnly. I had warned Nettie that the climb from there was very wet, rough and pretty steep so we were prepared and slogged up determinedly, thankful to reach the level track at the top.

Then we made really good progress. Go back! The walk across the moor top was marvellous and a left fork to the path down into Gunnerside Gill was considerately marked by a pile of stones. Filled with the joys of spring we neared the ruins of Blakethwaite smelt mill in the bottom, reminding us that at the height of the lead mining industry Swaledale was noisy, smokey and full of spoil heaps, some of which remain today.

Charles Tate was born near Wakefield in the s and knew from an early age that he wanted to work with wood. After leaving school at fourteen he became an apprentice joiner. Being wartime he joined the Home Guard, carrying a rifle almost as big as himself! Later he started his own business and built about three hundred homes across West Yorkshire.

Philippa says, My father enjoyed his time talking to Caroline about his past and he has been pleasantly surprised by how many people wanted to read his memories, not just his family. From my point of view too, it was a straightforward process where I knew exactly where I stood in terms of scheduling and costs. Thank you, Caroline. Charles is a very modest man so naturally I had to ask all the right questions to discover the full extent of his achievements. I made sure I wrote about the business against the backdrop of what was happening at the time, reflecting the highs and lows of the economy and showing the gradual rise in expectations of buyers.

At first, coal boilers were fine because they provided central heating, then it had to be gas, then there had to be utility rooms and en-suites - even bidets! All this from a man born in a one-up, one- down cottage in Wakefield! As a background to the dust jacket I used a photograph which I had taken of some timber with a nice grain, the main picture being a fabulous photo of Charles and his brother as boys. I was born in a one-up, one-down cottage in Yorkshire but my father lost his job in the mine when I was a baby and we had to move to Cheshire where there was work.

Our new home was bigger than the one in which I had been born, being two one-up one-down cottages put together. They were built of stone on a slight slope and there was a step up to the kitchen where a door had been knocked through. We could walk round easily. While she was in the other room I nipped out and threw my cabbage down the quarry.

We had no electricity and had gas lights which hissed gently on the wall. Like many houses we had no bathroom or inside toilet and the only water supply was a single cold tap in the kitchen. Toilets were in a block of four further down the road with several seats and as a small boy I had to hang on tightly. During the night we used a chamber pot. Bathtime meant filling a tin bath in front of the kitchen fire so you only did that once a week. Outside the front of our house the road was unmade and opposite stood a building which was something to do with the waterworks.

One day my brother and I opened a hydrant and water shot about twenty feet into the air so we scarpered quickly. Down the road was a shop with a gas streetlight outside which was lit each evening by the lamplighter who took his ladder from one light to another. One night the lamplighter had climbed right to the top when my brother took the ladder away. The shop owner was called Evelyn Pilling and she was killing herself laughing. At the age of five I was told I had to go to school so I went along with my mother on the first day. At mid morning break she was surprised to find me home again.

I had an accident and bear the scar but have no memory of it happening. Apparently one washing day my mother had a bucket of very hot water in the back kitchen. Fortunately a doctor was visiting next door and he sorted me out straightaway. Over the years I forgot all about the scar. When I was eighteen I went for a medical to join the armed forces. Like many men during those difficult years of the s, my father had to follow the work and was often away for long periods. The jobs were usually on railway widening, a lot of which was going on at the time, including Northallerton in North Yorkshire and Peterborough.

One day he came home and I took a long hard look at him. I was born in a small village in India in , not far from the holy city of Amritsar. When the new border with Pakistan was drawn close to us we were plunged into violence, changing the course of my life. My journey has taken me to Delhi, Bombay, Kenya, Uganda, back to India and many other countries, with a lot of adventures along the way. Finally I made Britain my home with my dear wife, our three sons and their families. Harry says, I find Caroline a person not only well qualified in her work but also so understanding when helping you to remember the past and make your story real.

If you want to write your memoirs, you cannot ask for a better person. My parents had just such an experience and telling their story was one of the inspirations behind this business. I asked Harry a lot of questions about his time as a small boy to paint a vivid picture of life in a peaceful Indian village in the s before the violence of partition. We also told the stories of his parents, grandparents and other important relatives and gave an explanation of the Sikh religion for those unfamiliar with its details.

He was very keen that people could laugh at some of his crazy adventures as a young man, like driving a car along a railway line to avoid floodwater. One of my favourite anecdotes was about his grandmother sitting on her trunk on the dockside refusing to allow customs officers to open it because she had hidden her stash of opium inside. Through his determination Harry established a very successful career with swimwear makers Speedo. They had had a long and happy marriage, having married without seeing each other beforehand.

We made sure that the book told her story as well as his. This led to some tears, of course, but was important to do and, I hope, ultimately beneficial. Because Harry lives some distance away from me, after the interviews were complete I did my follow-up work by phone, email and facetime, even when Harry was in Spain. That all worked very well. It was as the morning trains were passing. For many years I knew only the year of my birth, not the day.

I was born in Talwandi Nahar, a village near the holy city of Amritsar in the Punjab at the far northern tip of India, in gentle countryside before the mountains begin. When politicians far away were poring over their maps to create the new country of Pakistan they drew a line close to Talwandi Nahar, just keeping our village in India and dropping us into an area of bitter conflict. But that was all eleven years away and as a small child I had no idea that men I had never heard of would change the course of my life.

My full name was Harcharan Singh Sagoo. I was their little prince and some of our land was given to the gurdwara, the Sikh temple, in thanksgiving for my arrival. My parents held open house for forty five days during which anyone could turn up and be given delicacies such as ghee with raw sugar and rice, along with other foods. I had three older sisters, Charni, Sona and Phola. Memories of my two eldest sisters are very vague, the brightest being the day they were both married because this was also my naming ceremony.

I was dressed in very fancy clothes and ladies were hugging and kissing me, pressing money into my small hand. Men did not do hugging in those days! There was a lot of food and celebrating. My family, who were Sikhs, led a simple village life. Everybody knew everybody else, whatever religion or sect they were. Our house was built from clay bricks, which reflected the higher status of my family, others used bricks made from dried mud.

We had a hand-carved wooden door which was still there when I took my grandchildren to see the village. It is so different now with many new buildings that I had to ask someone to show me where my own house was. The barn where we kept our animals in winter and where my father had a special place to rest when he was not working has been converted into two homes. The rooms in our house were very simple without a great deal in them. Downstairs was one large living area and above it hung a fan, a frame stretched with fabric moved to and fro in the summer heat by a servant pulling a string.

My parents paid people to help in the house but all had their own homes in the village. A woman collected our laundry, took it away to wash by hand then brought it back dry and pressed using irons filled with hot coals. Our land was cultivated for us by people who gave us half the crop, I think that was how it worked. Others cared for our livestock, fed the chickens and milked the cows and buffalo, though I have seen my mother doing that, sitting beside the animal, milk squirting into a bucket.

All the work was done by hand, with ploughs hauled across the soil by buffalo. The roads were very quiet with no cars, only horses and carts. As night fell the oil lamps would be lit. We had no electric light, telephone, television or fridge. Computers were a thing of the future. I shared a bedroom with the younger of my sisters. Being so far north, winter nights could be very cold and my mother made quilts for our beds. She and the other women would work together on one quilt, skilfully stitching the material together, padded with shredded cotton for warmth.

In summer these would be rolled up carefully and lighter bedding shaken out and aired in the sunshine. On cold winter days a pot filled with charcoal was set alight then brought inside the house when the flames had died down to a glow. That, apart from our kitchen stove, was the only heating. As the weather became hotter and hotter we all took our bedding on to the roof to sleep under the stars. It was very dark and I remember lying there listening to my father telling bedtime stories. There was no flush toilet and instead a very deep pit was dug outside with a wooden seat above.

As a small boy I was rather scared to sit on the wooden seat because it was a long way down. The ladies would go in groups at a certain time in the morning and evening. When the pit was full it was covered over and a new one dug. In front of our house was a large well for drinking water. We had no bathroom but went to our second well where a buffalo walked round and round to draw water up to fill a tank.

Showering was a communal event under a shelter but with men and women separated and still partly dressed. It was not so different from Britain where in the s bathrooms and inside toilets were a rarity for ordinary people. Like them, we were quite happy with our arrangements because we knew nothing else and everyone around was the same.

The women spent much of their time feeding their families. In the kitchen cooking was done over a traditional stove called a chulha, a three-sided box on the floor containing a fire of wood and dried cow pats, with clay or copper pots balanced on top. The women squatted down to cook amid the smoke. Piles of chapattis were mixed from flour and water and patted quickly into shape before being cooked on a metal plate. A lot of fuel was needed every day and some villagers collected wood to dry and sell.

The grain came from our own fields and was brought into the house in sacks to be ground between two stones. Better off women like my mother paid other ladies to do this for them. Shopping was not done in the way it is today as much of our food came from our own land. As Sikhs we ate meat now and again but not beef, out of respect for our Hindu neighbours for whom the cow is sacred. My father was completely vegetarian.

Our meals always had a lentil dish such as dhal and a vegetable dish. Saag was a delicacy made by cooking mustard leaves for nearly twenty four hours in a clay pot. Sweet pilau rice with sultanas, almonds and pistachio nuts was a dessert, very delicious! Every night we drank milk and usually in the morning as well, or a yoghurt drink called lassi, with a stuffed chapatti.

That was our breakfast. Tea was almost unheard of. With no fridge the milk would not keep so each night my mother boiled it up to make yoghurt for the following day, lacing it with lemon or other spices in a clay pot. Village life meant helping each other and it was expected that if you had more than you needed, as we did, you gave it to others. People would knock at the door most days asking for buttermilk or some vegetables and we sent food to the temple, the gurdwara, for the free kitchen where a vegetarian meal is served to anyone who needs it.

There were a lot of trees in the village which grew the most delicious berries, what they were I am not sure. Fruit was seasonal, you ate it when it was ready and when it was finished there was no more until the next year. Men would bring sacks of melons or mangoes and you would be eating them for weeks. Some mangoes were so ripe you could squeeze the juice into your mouth.

There are some fruits of my childhood which I have not seen in Britain and would love to taste again but have never been in India at the right time. In his early days Uncle had worked, I think, on the railway in Assam. His wife and my mother shared the work in the kitchen. Uncle was very interested in traditional medicines and often prepared treatments for people in the village, never taking money. He had learned his skills from wandering monks known as Sanyasi who lived in the jungle meditating and surviving on what they could find.

When I was growing up in Jamaica I loved watching an American TV show called The Love Boat, set on a cruise liner, and at the age of fourteen made three promises to myself - to work on a cruise ship, to be a nurse and be in the army. These are the stories of the hilarious adventures I had working on board ship after joining in the s and one terrifying Atlantic crossing.

What an excellent service you provide, you guided and advised me every step of the way, making suggestions here and there. Most of all you kept me informed at every stage. Caroline says, Usually I use extended interviews to help clients to tell me their story then write it for them. And she did! Ten years later the phone rang and it was Annette. I remembered her straightway. How could I forget such a great personality and such a great name? She had a hilarious and sometimes outrageous story which made me laugh out loud but, as is usual with untrained writers, it jumped around a lot, was unclear at times and some important details were missing.

By talking by phone and emailing I put all that right and Annette is now selling her book. In the s I was promoted to cabin attendant. How I loved that job! On embarkation days some of the cabin attendants had to go to the main gangway to meet and greet passengers as they boarded the ship, looking immaculate in our uniforms with white gloves and smiling nicely.

Then we showed the passengers to their cabins, explained how everything worked and answered any questions they had. I love talking and used to enjoy giving them all the valuable information about the ship, the best ports to visit, the entertainment on board and much more. I found it very amusing working the gangway because the questions they asked were out of this world, such as:. What time is the midnight buffet? Do the crew members go home each night? Can I take the ice carving home? What do you do with the ice carving when it has melted?

Has the ship ever sunk? I have an outside cabin, will I get wet when it rains? How do we know which is our photo? Why is the ship rocking? Is the toilet water salty? How do I walk forward? What time are we taking off? Where are we sailing to? Passengers also did daft things. On the last night of the cruise they sometimes packed all their clothes in their suitcase which was taken away, only to find out in the morning that they had no clothes to wear. One passenger had to wrap himself in a shower curtain because his luggage had already been taken off the ship and he had to go through customs before he could get it again.

The purser was completely at a loss for an answer until he spotted that the luggage had been given tags saying Amarillo yellow and the passenger thought that meant they had gone to Amarillo, Texas. Naturally the weather sometimes defeated us and one cruise heading to Grand Cayman had to be diverted because of a hurricane. An elderly lady was screaming on the main deck because her vacation of a lifetime was ruined. She had been so looking forward to going to the Grand Canyon. She had got it totally mixed up. They all knew Jim Baxter. When he suffered a debilitating stroke we had no excuse to delay any longer as there was little else that we could enjoy doing together.

The text would have emerged looking rather bland. Our problems were over. Caroline took charge and guided us throughout the whole project. We were well aware that there would be costs involved but we feel it was money very well spent. Some people think nothing of spending thousands of pounds on cruises but at the end of the day, the story of a life is worth more! The book got an immediate WOW from us on opening the parcel! We are so excited by the book. You have a very satisfied customer on your hands.

The feedback we are getting is fantastic. Caroline says, The best thing for me about doing this book was that it shows everyone what an amazing person Jim is. He was in hospital recently much better now! I took care not to wear him out but on the other hand, as I often find, the enjoyment of telling his story was a real tonic for Jim.

We both had a good laugh most of the time but his childhood was very tough and far from funny. I had to make sure I understood the technical details of the motorbikes and cars Jim loves, especially the vintage Scott motorcycles which are his passion, gently asking questions until I could write it clearly for anyone to enjoy. In the following weeks Jim had other stories to add which we did successfully by telephone and email. Vintage cars and bikes excite me most, made between and , and when I ran my own garage in Liverpool there was always something interesting being restored.

When I met my wife Jane we got into motorcycle racing and I loved the exhilaration of riding something built in the days when Britain led the world in motorcycle production. They can still do mph.

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When we first got together we were in a pub boasting about our prowess on motorbikes. Jim called it the Frantic Bastard. He spent two years completely restoring it to concours condition, including soldering a brand new radiator from brass tubing. I thought what a wonderful present it was, not realising that this gave him permission to buy whatever bike he liked for himself, starting with his own vintage Scott. A whole procession of bikes came through the garage to be carefully restored but Jim was no good at selling them, only buying.

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For their time from they had an outstanding performance. My own Scott was a Flying Squirrel and I was the only rider on our club circuit with a hand gear change. This was on the right side of the bike. In order to enable faster gear changes I kept my right hand on the twist grip and used my left hand to change gear over the tank. In Alfred Scott challenged his workers to a trial ride which has evolved into the famous Scott Trial still held today.

Though I never took part in this gruelling ride I bought the Scott bike on which Eric Langton won in the s. Jane and I volunteered to become scrutineers at Aintree during the s and s, checking bikes before they were allowed to race.

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In the s they wanted to start a vintage class so I decided to help make up the numbers. That was just as important as any riding skills I might have. At the Oulton Park circuit a club champion was next to me on the grid. My eyes were glued to his back tyre and the moment that tyre moved I was off and past him but he overtook me on the straight and gave me two fingers. When he lapped me he gave me another two fingers. On the third lap the marshals were pushing bits of his bike into the side because it had fallen to pieces.

Your grid position in races was determined by drawing lots - selecting a piece of wire sticking out of a bag held by a boy scout - so a quick start was vital if you were at the back. You ran with your bike to bump start it then jumped on and, being a mechanic, mine always started first time. I never came off in spite of giving myself a fright now and again. Racing at Oulton Park I was disappointed to see another rider pass me until I realised it was just the bike with nobody on it.

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I reached out to shut it down so the marshals could catch it. I was too timid to do the terrifying TT on the Isle of Man but Jane and I have followed the route with all its hairpin bends and mountainous terrain. He was a lovely man with a great sense of humour and once went round Silverstone on a bicycle sitting on the handlebars, facing the wrong way and ringing the bell with his bottom. He was magic. One winter we went to Brooklands together and looked for somewhere to stay.

All we could book was a bedroom up in the roof of a house which was freezing cold but better than nothing. Keith often repaired things for people. One day a hairdresser he knew called him over as he was walking past and asked if he could mend a hand-held hairdryer. The shop was on a busy dual carriageway and when Keith took the hairdryer back he decided the traffic was going much too fast.

He held up the hairdryer and watched them all slow down immediately, thinking he was a policeman with a speed camera. He was the most marvellous motorbike rider. One day Jane and I were following him. Just before a left turn we saw him put out his left arm to signal, then his left leg went out and he went round the corner with his arm and leg sticking out, steering with his bottom! One of our favourite friends was Marjorie Cottle who had been a celebrated racer in the s and s and was a test rider for Raleigh motorcycles before they were better known for their bicycles.

Everyone was spellbound by her talks. Marjorie was a marvellous person with great spirit and one typical event saw her trying to get out of the car as I drove her to a club meeting in a blizzard. She wanted to walk in front to guide me and I had to physically restrain her because by then she was quite an elderly lady. I owned a cc Vincent Twin motorcycle and used it to visit a fellow enthusiast, Charlie Rumble, when he had to spend time in Rhyll Hospital following an accident with a lorry - he had to swerve to avoid injury to his grandson who was riding pillion.

Unfortunately he sustained leg injuries himself. Every now and again a greasy paper would come flying out of the window. I moved forward until we were alongside as the driver was stuffing himself.

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When the next lot of litter came out I caught it, stuffed it back through the window and told him he was a filthy pig. Paul never forgot that incident. When Charlie came out of hospital I modified his car so he could drive despite his injuries. On a visit to Hoghton Tower, the stately home near Preston, Jane and I left the Scotts outside the cafe where they were spotted by Major Richard Adams who was married to Lady de Hoghton, owner of the ancestral home, after she was widowed.

He loved motorbikes but his wife forbade him from riding. They were looking for ways to help the estate and I was looking for somewhere to stage a safe sprint so their long straight drive was ideal. That was the start of the now famous Hoghton Tower Sprint which has been going for over thirty years and which Jane and I set up. Jane printed every programme by hand on an old-fashioned Gestetner stencil machine. Our friends Derek and Jos played a big part in setting it up and on the first day organised free tea and coffee for the riders and their helpers.

I was clerk of the course and Jane was timekeeper. I wanted ours to be different. Each rider was photographed setting out from the start line and plaques commemorating the event were distributed during the day. Afterwards they received the photo, their results and a certificate with their best time printed on it, signed by me as the clerk of the course. We were praised for our good organisation and safety standards.

Major Adams was thrilled because they made so much money from the public coming in to watch and he was vindicated in his passion for bikes and respect for the motorcycle fraternity. Jane and I were looking for somewhere to stage a sprint on Merseyside and the track through Knowsley Safari Park looked promising. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I think motorbikes can go faster than lions. Jane and I went up with Keith on our bikes to mark it out and poor Keith, on his Norton, made a world record by skidding on a pile of elephant droppings! Road racers will look out for brake markers before a bend so they know where to slow down on the next time around.

It might be a particular tree or an electricity box. Once Keith spotted a large stone at the side of the road and decided to use that as a marker. He came round the second time, braked at the stone - and much to his surprise ran out of road! The stone happened to be a tortoise plodding its way slowly around the track. In one race I made the mistake of using a group of Army display riders as my brake marker.

They were standing shoulder to shoulder in just the right place. As soon as I was out of sight they all scurried closer to the corner and when I reappeared enjoyed watching me brake far too late. Bill Burton was a great friend and outstanding character who had raced cars and bikes all his life, winning the Aston Martin Horsfall trophy. At New Brighton I asked the marshals to give Bill a push off the grid to save him running and bumping.

Unfortunately they pushed him into the wrong race. He was a terrific rider, much faster than me, and managed to come in fourth. When I bought myself a paraglider the engine needed running in. What a bore it was to watch its big fan going round and round, safely attached to a stand. I decided there might be a more interesting way. I strapped it to my back and got on a bike to see what happened. When people saw me pedalling round the lanes at up to 50mph they were unconcerned. A couple of the more quirky ones did their best to kill me.

But I survived. Fortunately my daughter found Caroline Brannigan through the internet. Telling my story to her was an enjoyable experience and my book has had a very good reception. So thank you, Caroline, for capturing my voice and making it sound just like me talking. And, best of all, it has given my daughter a good laugh reading about my exploits. Caroline says, Norman lives in Leicestershire so I travelled down and stayed in a local pub. As always, I helped Norman to tell his story as fully as possible by asking lots of extra questions to prompt memories which he might not have thought about for a long time.

Norman was very keen for his sense of humour to shine through so I made sure it did. Unfortunately he flattened Coventry in the process. When we met, Norman began telling me of his flying exploits and my hair began to stand on end. How did he survive! It was all very funny but underneath I could sense great skill and judgement well, maybe not all the time. That seemed to come up a lot, funnily enough. As often happens with my books, I had to make sure I understood all the technicalities of gliding so that I could write a story which anyone could understand.

However, as always, I was careful not to make the explanations tedious for the experts I knew would love reading this book. My follow-up questions were done over the telephone then I posted proofs to Norman which he corrected and returned to me. Additional stories were recorded by me over the phone. Everyone thinks of more to add! I bought a share in a T21 vintage open cockpit glider which, being fabric covered, was easily damaged and had been rather patched up over its career. I love the open cockpit, the sense of freedom and the wind in your face.

Ahead is the whole vista of the sky with no reflections in the way. It also makes you much more accurate in your flying because you can feel what the wind is doing and how the glider is reacting to it. Sometimes I wore goggles and a helmet but not always. It does get cold, especially flying through cloud, and the glider can ice up. The other problem is disorientation. I actually liked cloud flying because you could get up much, much higher.

I went up to 9, feet over Husbands Bosworth once, a girlfriend sitting in the passenger seat. I pulled on my trousers, insulated jacket and flying helmet and we went up in a thermal to about 4, feet. Yes, he did fancy that. In cloud it is very, very cold. Get me out! The T21 has two seats side by side and was designed before the war for training RAF pilots before they went on to powered planes.

My mate Lou Frank, an instructor, had a thing about doing a Golden Distance - kilometres - in a T21 which had never even been attempted before and has not been done since. Of course I would. This was in Our radio packed up after half an hour. Near to a big town we had dropped to about a thousand feet which is a bit close to the ground for a glider but Lou managed to catch a thermal to take us up a bit. Our friends Roger and Wendy were following by road for the retrieve. We went across Dartmoor with all our fingers crossed because it would have been impossible to land there but the thermals took us over and we kept going to Plymouth.

I would like to point out that we do not tie up the bags and drop them as a nasty surprise from the sky but empty them over the side, having checked wind direction first. Now that I was comfortable once more we looked out for a field to land in. Plymouth Airport had already told us before setting off that they would not give us permission to land there.

I spotted a field with a cricket pitch but Lou said it was sloping too much. It turned out we were both right. The pitch was flat but at the end was a steep drop. We came in over a hedge and just managed to put the glider down at the edge of the drop, not far from the football ground and with buildings all around. We discovered we were in Central Park, quite a famous place. The police came and the local radio. They had never seen a glider land there before, or crash as they saw it.

To the uninitiated our landings can sometimes look a bit accidental. As far as I know that still stands and nobody has attempted it before or since. I think that most people who know anything at all about gliding will be astounded by it. The really clever bit was that Roger and Wendy arrived within twenty minutes of us. At one point we got up underneath a thermal and it was going well but very cold, even though it was May.

Snow was falling from the cloud then going up again so we were in a constant snow storm! But we got about 5, feet out of that so it was worth it to get the distance. Arriving back at 1. Merwin's absorbing verse-novel, set in 19th-century Hawaii, evokes extraordinary landscapes and people with an immediacy that makes it impossible to stop reading. Buy Burning Wire, Ruth Fainlight's latest poetry collection. Alan Garner If my closest friends who all happen to work in areas affected by this choice hadn't already got Richard Bradley's An Archaeology of Natural Places Routledge they would have it for Christmas - or earlier.

Little has been done to investigate the meaning and significance of natural places such as caves, springs, rivers, rocks and their perceived relationships to each other when experienced by the human mind. This book more than makes good the omission; and for me it illuminated the whole of my research when I was writing Thursbitch, and continues to do so at other sites today. Buy Thursbitch by Alan Garner. Karl Rove would fear him. A monstrous, outsized figure with a genius for politics at its most cunning, underhanded and vicious, Johnson did more to advance the liberal progressive agenda than any president in US history, but not because he held liberal or any other ideological convictions - only because he was able to increase his own personal power in the process.

If I get my friend hooked on part one, the next three Christmas presents are a cinch - assuming that Mr Caro finishes volume four in time. M John Harrison For human beings as opposed to "objective" observers , historical time assembles itself from a tangle of subjective impressions and conflicting documentary evidence. Futures fall out as readily as pasts, from every moment of this quantumised muddle. How can you ever know which one you're in? In The Separation Gollancz , from the lives of twin brothers separated by the second world war, Christopher Priest conjures up a subtle cloud of the alternate histories that might have firmed up into the world we don't know.

Buy Climbers by M John Harrison. Tobias Hill I've been reading Albert Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus Penguin again, not so much for the title essay which is - sorry - an uphill struggle , but for some of the makeweights that accompany it. In Summer in Algiers and The Stop in Oran, Camus writes about his native North Africa with a vivid, homesick longing - the girls in jasmine garlands and tight blue dresses, the boxing matches, the birds rising from the palm tree boulevards.

Buy The Cryptographer by Tobias Hill.

Tales from the Old Oak Table: A Family Memoir

Victoria Hobbs Taut, compelling, linguistically inventive, politically engaged andextremely moving, Ronan Bennett's Havoc in its Third Year Bloomsbury is one of the best novels I have read in a while and I'm keen to spread the word by giving it to as many people as I can get away with. For those who prefer their reading a little less challenging, I will be bulk-buying Molvania - A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry , the brilliantly funny spoof travel guide to an eastern European country.

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Things I write while not writing

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And scandalously, Stranger Things Happen isn't published in this country, so the reader gets to feel smugly ahead of the local litpack. A sea captain discovers a species of intelligent marine newt and brings some back to Europe. It isn't long before they're employed to start reclaiming the land from the sea.

I had a flush toilet and mostly store-bought clothes. I was interested in Coleman's perspective, as she was raised at the epicenter of the movement. My complaints with the book are that her reconstructions are far too mature for the age she was at the time. I'd have liked an acknowledgement that they were reconstructions based on later conversations, or something. That being said, it was a fascinating look at a fascinating time. Coleman seems unable, here, to assign any culpability to her parents.

It appears clear to me that they were at the very least, inattentive and more likely flat-out neglectful, being far too busy navel-gazing and field-handing to actually parent. The writing was at times repetitive and at times a little purple for my taste. There were passages that just sang, too. Well worth reading, but uncomfortable for me. Jun 07, Jim Bronec rated it really liked it. I put it down half way thru because I felt them to be overbaring and judgemental in there assesment of the culture and in the promoting of their lifestyle.

But most importantly I didn't believe they were being totally truthful. Turns out my feelings were correct. It tells of the hardship that homesteading can play on a relationship and family. It is a well told story and pulls back the curtain on the tough life of eeking out a living off the land and all the emotional affects it can take on a family.

Melissa Coleman is the daughter of Eliot Coleman who is one of the best writers on the technical aspect of organic farming. This story brings a truthful background to both the joys and pains of country living. Jun 03, Deb rated it liked it. Back in the s and early 70s, my formative years, one of the countercultural threads running through the zeitgeist was a romantic back-to-the-land movement.

I chose this book because back in those days my husband and I had fantasies of living "the good life" as defined by the movement evangelists, Scott and Helen Nearing, and this is the story of a young couple who really did it. Eliot Coleman and his wife Susan bought land adjacent to the Nearings' in Maine, and lived self-sufficiently off t Back in the s and early 70s, my formative years, one of the countercultural threads running through the zeitgeist was a romantic back-to-the-land movement.

Eliot Coleman and his wife Susan bought land adjacent to the Nearings' in Maine, and lived self-sufficiently off the farm they created. During this time they had three daughters, and this memoir is authored by the first-born, Melissa Coleman. I'm not really revealing a spoiler to say that a tragedy will end this family's sojourn in Paradise.

We learn that early on. That part of the story is heartbreaking and well presented; but even if it hadn't happened, we get the sense that the "good life" wasn't all that good, and that it would have ended eventually, at least for these people, anyway. For once-young dreamers like me, who wonder if an alternate life "off the grid" might have been more fulfilling, this story is a lesson in hard reality.

Coleman writes beautifully at times, especially when she immerses the narrative in an authentic childs'-eye view of life. But I have a problem with how she tells a story she admittedly doesn't fully remember in first person, or perhaps I should say in first child.

Even scenes of her parents' lives before she was born are told in this same voice, and it is disconcerting. While she marvelously captures the childlike wonder of her remembered point of view, there are many parts of this story that need to be examined from an adult perspective, and I simply found the constant reference to "Mama" and "Papa" to be unnerving. Hard questions remain at the end. I got the strong impression that there are important things the author didn't tell us because she knew her parents, who are still living, would be reading her book.

But overall I enjoyed the book and recommend it to any corporate cubicle drone like me who ever dreamed of living closer to nature. Dec 09, Katie rated it really liked it. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir about homesteading in the ss, written by someone who was a child in the homesteading family. Even though homesteading and organic gardening are not particular interests of mine although food "politics" is , I found this book completely engrossing.

It was so lyrically and poetically written, especially for a non-fiction book. The writer has a real talent for gorgeous writing, and especially writing that evokes the feel of being out in nature. What a wond I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir about homesteading in the ss, written by someone who was a child in the homesteading family. What a wonderful book to pick up during winter, since this writing in this book can make you feel like it's springtime and you're outside in a field with your face stuck in some fresh flowers.

I loved how the writing and the structure of the book was so closely tied to the seasons, just as one would imagine homesteaders' lives would be as opposed to the rest of us, barely outside much of the time since we drive to our identical enclosed cubicles and then drive home! The weather has hardly an impact. Every year when springtime broke, the author would write again about the particular birds and flowers that would make their first appearance, and you could really see how the patterns of their lives shifted when the seasons changed.

And every year when fall started to make its appearance, she would write about how that affected their lives and moods. During the summers they were REALLY busy, and during the winters they were sort of "hibernating" and eating their carefully preserved jars of fruit. And of course, there's a lot more going on here I found the whole thing fascinating--would definitely recommend to anyone. Dec 04, Jennifer Kleffner rated it really liked it.

Just finished this. Eliot Coleman, the father in this story, has written several books on organic gardening. He's kind of the "go to" guru for all things organic farming. I have one of his books on my bookshelf. Hence the interest. Actually a difficult read for me. Had I been born a bit earlier, I could have been one of these back to the land 20 something hippies of the early 70's, convinced I could be totally self sufficient, living off the land.

I don't know what was more disappointing. The fac Just finished this. The fact that these two young people bonded over a dream and got married without really knowing each other, only to discover that they needed things from each other the other was never going to be able to supply, the fact that they decided to bring children into that mix, the childhood neglect seriously, the kids were taking poops in the lettuce - gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "dirty hippie" , or that the Nearings, who lived next door and inspired many of these folks to return to the land see the book "Living the Goodlife" , were actually supplementing their lifestyle with trust funds, tons of volunteer help, and their vegetarian diet with ice cream and B12 shots.

A great lesson in remembering that we all draw our own lines in the sand. And then we sometimes choose to walk over them. Told with an unflinching yet fair look at all involved. What a heartbreak. May 18, willaful rated it really liked it Shelves: first-reads , nonfiction , nonfiction-locavore-food-gardening. I won this from GoodReads.

This memoir hit me in a personal way, because I also grew up in the 70's with parents living out of the mainstream; for years I've been hungry for real depiction of what it was like, as opposed to the stereotypes we see in t. This Life is in Your Hands rang very true for me: the sometimes reckless idealism, the lack of boundaries, the passionate following of leaders with feet of clay. I think it's a pretty balanced portrayal, with a lot of atten 3. I think it's a pretty balanced portrayal, with a lot of attention paid to what was good and valuable about that time as well as its negative side.

Coleman puts herself into the minds of other people, writing their thoughts and feelings even about times before she was born or aware. This works well when she's writing about her parents but seemed awkward when she writes in a more romantic vein about other people. Towards the end, the book started to feel a little gossipy. But I loved the depiction of her father, whose initial desire for a simple, homesteading life grew into a lifelong passion for organic farming.

Jun 09, Kim Miller-Davis rated it it was amazing. A beautifully told memoir of a family's journey back-to-the-land in Maine in the s. Although written by the daughter of Eliot Coleman known for his pioneering work with organic farming , it is less a story about homesteading than it is a story about family and the ways in which human beings come to terms with joy and disappointments and tragedy. The author uses the family's intimate, tactile relationship with the natural world as the canvas for her lush portrait of human relationships, ther A beautifully told memoir of a family's journey back-to-the-land in Maine in the s.

The author uses the family's intimate, tactile relationship with the natural world as the canvas for her lush portrait of human relationships, thereby delivering a sensorial reading experience that is wholly satisfying. It's the kind of story that delights and twists and wrenches so deeply that once the book has been finished, the story seems to linger in the air, as if waiting to pick up where it stopped.

May 07, Savanna Bergheger rated it liked it. I am one who loves memoirs, however, I really couldn't get into this one. It feels like it was less of a memoir and more of a work of fiction with some parts of a memoir?? The entire book is written from the perspective of the main character from before she was even born through age 7. How does one write a memoir from before she was even born!? I feel like there really wasn't much happening either, it kept bringing in more people to the book and strayed away from the actual story that was suppos I am one who loves memoirs, however, I really couldn't get into this one.

I feel like there really wasn't much happening either, it kept bringing in more people to the book and strayed away from the actual story that was supposed to being told. It wasn't a terrible book, but definitely not a favorite for me. Feb 25, Leslie rated it it was amazing. I was one of thousands of young people in the late 60s and early 70s who wanted to get back to the land. I managed to have a large garden, become a vegetarian, grind my own flour, make my own bread and yogurt, grow my own alfalfa sprouts. My obsession with rock music kept me away from dried peat moss. At least until the disasters strike.

Oct 06, Ciara rated it liked it Shelves: autobio-memoir , read-in Dec 07, Kellie rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , gardening. You might like this book if you are a fan of the writings of Eliot Coleman, organic gardening expert, or you like memoirs such as Glass Castles that tell real stories of families that go through extreme circumstances.

My Review: This book just grabbed me by the throat from the first few words and images. The writing is beautiful and almost mystical in tone. I found it by chance when I was searching my library catalog for the Eliot Coleman books I check out every year in the early spring. He is a g You might like this book if you are a fan of the writings of Eliot Coleman, organic gardening expert, or you like memoirs such as Glass Castles that tell real stories of families that go through extreme circumstances. He is a gardening expert whose teachings about feeding the soil rather than using pesticides resonate with me.

I never knew much about him personally, but this book, by his oldest daughter, has changed all that. She writes with honesty, clarity and care about her growing-up years on a homestead in rural Maine during the back-to-the-land movement of the 's. She tells a story of ideals coming face to face with reality and of the dreams of a visionary contrasting with the daily needs of raising a family. Along the way there is tragic loss, heartbreak and glimpses into what it really means to find the truest meaning in life. At times, life was idyllic, at times life was just dang hard, and at all times, the Coleman family worked incredibly hard to make their homestead a home.

In the end, in spite of outward successes, Greenwood Farm came just short of that state of being a real, permanent home, and therein lies the conflict at the heart of the story. To me it is both a thrilling and inspirational account of what can be accomplished if you focus and put your best efforts into something and a cautionary tale of what happens when anything, no matter how worthwhile, starts to eclipse the importance of the relationships we have with other people. It simultaneously makes me want to plant more garden beds but also to hug my husband and children and be grateful for my perhaps less passionate but more balanced life.

In the end, there is love, appreciation and forgiveness. The torn strands of the author's family have been rewoven, perhaps not in the pattern either Eliot or Sue Coleman first imagined, but nonetheless, beauty can be seen in the end result. Apr 21, Michelle rated it liked it Shelves: I picked this up because of excellent reviews and for some reason, about halfway through, decided to check out the jacket. Whoever wrote it did the author and this book a huge disservice because there is a major spoiler.

I hope they chan 3. I hope they change it for the paperback. This book included many interesting tidbits about the way of life and green practices in general. At times it got a little too detailed for me, but overall this angle was highly interesting. There is also a bit of a cautionary tale here. Becoming hyper-focused in one area can lead to major deficiencies in other areas. As idealistic as her parents were, especially her father, they were at times frustrating, even negligent.

A way of life trumped everything else including health mental, physical and safety. The author did an excellent job of showing how any deficiencies one might have are exacerbated in this kind of environment. There were some downright breathtaking sentences and turns of phrases. I did think there were issues that never got resolved I wanted more of an epilogue! Overall, though, this was a very evocative and unique memoir. Apr 09, Nancy rated it really liked it. The book is not so much a story as an experience involving all of the senses.