A hopeful path forward in a fractured world – Sarah Wilson’s new book

January 17, 2021 at 9:18 am | Posted in capitalism, Democracy, health, Living creatively, optimism, politics, sarah wilson, Simplifying, sustainable living, value of the arts | Leave a comment
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An adventurous heart

Sarah Wilson’s This One Wild and Precious Life navigates through the problems facing us all right now: coronavirus, climate change, racial inequalities, political and economic polarisation, as well as loneliness, in an accessible, thought-provoking way.

The author spent three years pondering these issues and she takes us on her travels over that time, inward and outward, as she questions and explores and tries to find a way towards some coherent answers. It all started from her observation that at the moment we are fundamentally disconnected.

‘Without meaningful connection – to others, to life, to ourselves – we also experience what sociologists and psychologists are calling “moral loneliness”, which is when the supply cord to connection, caring and doing the right thing has been severed.’

Wilson interviewed psychologists and poets, scientists and philosophers on her journey. She travelled and hiked in her quest for answers, drawing on stoicism, Jungian theory, existentialism, feminism and various spiritual practices, which, she points out, emerged in response to turbulent times like our own.

If this sounds heavy-going or ploddingly sincere and worthy, this unique book does not come across anything like that. The honesty and freshness of her writing is a joy to read, as we are welcomed into the intimate world of a remarkable person. The portraits of her in the media come across as glamorous and beautiful but she turned her back on the wealth and glamour, and her beauty is a result of her health, health that was hard-won. Continue Reading A hopeful path forward in a fractured world – Sarah Wilson’s new book…

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

February 23, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Posted in mental illness, miscarriage of justice, optimism, Simplifying, wild camping | 2 Comments
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Nothing left to lose

I’m travelling through Ireland, en route to a writing residency in County Kerry and the bookshops here are brilliant. A favourite one is Charlie Byrnes Bookshop in Galway. My favourite book from there is The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (Penguin, 2018).

Sitting before roaring log fires in Shankill Castle’s drawing room (my landlord Geoffrey calls it the withdrawing room), I couldn’t put this book down. But I didn’t want it to end.

The Salt Path was a Sunday Times Bestseller and it’s easy to see why. The author and her husband, called Moth, decide to walk from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall, a distance of 630 miles. They carry rucksacks and a small, lightweight tent, with no money to back them up except a minimal weekly pension and even that uncertain and diminishing for no reason they can fathom or do anything about.

It was an impulsive decision, made when the bailiffs were literally banging on the windows of their farmhouse. They’d lost their home of twenty years, their livelihood from it, and their animals. After three years of endless battle with the courts (using up all their savings), a clear miscarriage of justice had landed them in this position.

Continue Reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn…

Slowing down – A beautiful book on sustainable living: Mark Boyle’s The Way Home

July 10, 2019 at 4:26 am | Posted in Blasket islands, capitalism, digital technology, E.F. Schumacher, Mark Boyle, rural Ireland, Simplifying, Small Is Beautiful, sustainable living | Leave a comment
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The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology. Mark Boyle. (Oneworld Publications, 2019)

It’s a surprise to learn that Mark Boyle has a degree in Economics and Marketing. He lives in rural County Galway in a dwelling he built himself. He chooses to live without electricity or running water. He has no car and of course no phone – landline or mobile – but the thing that really brought home to me his hard-line stance is this: he won’t use matches either.

Once you’d spent the hours and labour (not to mention generating blisters) on making a fire with your bare hands I can’t imagine ever letting it go out.

Mark Boyle writes that he also has neither clock nor watch. Would a sundial count as technology? Probably not, but its use might be a bit limited in western Ireland, which receives roughly twice as much rainfall as the rest of the country.

And lighting? ‘Making a candle is easy. The real craft lies in the first part of the process: the keeping of the bees,’ he writes. ‘Actually, the most difficult part of candle-making is deciding to reject electrical lighting.’ Continue Reading Slowing down – A beautiful book on sustainable living: Mark Boyle’s The Way Home…

Recipes for happiness

April 3, 2019 at 12:24 am | Posted in Bookshops, creativity, decluttering, libraries, List making, Living creatively, Simplifying | Leave a comment
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That warm glow of excitement and satisfaction

It’s been a while since my last blog post and I make no apology. I don’t write them for click-bait – they’re for contemplation and the odd laugh. I’ve been working – writing non-fiction – and, of course, reading. One thing I read expresses precisely my situation about books to be read. New Yorker staff writer Katy Waldman admitted in that journal (4 December 2018) that she was ‘criminally behind on the books I want to read, and my job consists of reading books, so I can only imagine what most readers feel. … The deficit grows by the hour.’

Judging by the towering pile of books on my bedside table, and probably on yours, we know exactly what she means.

Continue Reading Recipes for happiness…

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