A second extract from Ghosts on the Shore: Travels Along Germany’s Baltic Coast by Paul Scraton, which is our Book of the Month for June.
In search of childhood – Stralsund
We had come to Stralsund in search of childhood. We walked the narrow streets of the Altstadt – the old centre of the city – almost completely surrounded by water, like its Hanseatic big brother Lübeck. There were some stories here – a theatre, a bakery, a museum – but this was not the Stralsund that Katrin grew up in through the 1980s. Not entirely. Parts of her Stralsund were here, among the red- brick buildings with their crow-stepped gables, but the rest of her city was elsewhere, out on the edge, where the streets meet the fields, where the concrete meets the soil. (more…)
4. APPROACHING SEA MIST
Brian David Stevens introduces shots from a series of photographs he took, over a period of 12 months, at Beachy Head:
Sometimes a higher power gives you pictures. They always seem like a reward or a gift when they appear, fleeting visions that need to be gathered quickly in and made permanent. Of course it’s luck, but you can skew the odds in your favour just by being there, making a place your ‘patch’, putting the time in, pulling a double shift, making it familiar. You have to know a place, know it well enough to have a conversation with it, know it well enough so that it shares its secrets with you.
The light looked like this for just a matter of seconds – enough to take three frames, the middle one being the best. Sometimes it’s hard to take pictures because all you want to do is look.
On the Marshes: A journey into England’s waterlands, by Carol Donaldson
(Little Toller, 200 pages, hardback. Out now and available here.)
Review by George Sawtell
Set in the marshes of north Kent, the author embarks on a series of walks, from near Gravesend east to Whitstable. Although only eighty miles in length, a sense of place dear to the author’s heart is lovingly evoked.
Interspersed with the journey through woodland, chalet parks, remote marshes and hinterland is the story of a broken relationship. This is triggered by Carol’s ejection from her RSBP caravan home and loss of job. A flit to Russia in winter is Carol’s initial response. After settling down, the journey is designed as a pilgrimage, to connect to “those dwellers living on the edge of the modern world; people who has chosen the estuary to create a life which meant something to them.” Carol is fearless, striding out on her own sleeping in orchards, her car, churches and on marshy islands. There are encounters with loners, escapists, woodland hermits, house boat dwellers and weekend hovercraft fanatics. (more…)
The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry, selected and introduced by Paul Kingsnorth (Allen Lane, 354 pages. Out now.)
Review by Andy Childs
I am not a regular listener to Radio 4’s ‘Start The Week’, but an edition broadcast a couple of months ago caught my ear. It featured the author Paul Kingsnorth, who is of course no stranger to this domain, Kate Raworth, who has written what sounds like an eminently sane and important book called Doughnut Economics, and Wendell Berry – farmer, writer, poet, environmentalist and all-round exemplary human being. As is often the case with radio chat shows, all three had books just published. Kate Raworth explained the radical theory behind her vision of how economics should work in a way that made perfect sense to someone fiscally semi-literate like me, and Paul Kingsnorth talked about his own new book Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and about this volume of essays by Wendell Berry – The World-Ending Fire – that he has compiled and written the introduction for. Berry himself, now in his eighties, spoke to us from his farm in Kentucky and sounded as wise, thoughtful and deliberate as his writing suggests he would be. (more…)