A new series of posts following Tom Bolton – author of ‘London’s Lost Rivers’ and ‘London’s Lost Neighbourhoods’ – as he travels the coastline of the British Isles.
At the late August Bank Holiday arrived, Jo and I headed back out to the Essex coast for the next instalment of our summer mission to walk its tangle of flats, estuaries and saltings. At home in South London everything was on hold as we waited for the Mastic Man, a demanding and mysterious figure who would perform specialist tasks in our bathroom. His arrival might be unannounced: we were told he sometimes liked to surprise. In the meantime, we had to keep things “bone-dry for the Mastic Man”, and the damp Essex expanses offered respite.
Marking the shifting edge of eastern England was a convoluted process. This time we planned a circumnavigation of Mersea Island, the third largest in Essex after Canvey and Foulness and home to the nation’s prime oyster beds. We returned to Colchester, a fortified hilltop town commanding the marshy coast. Outside the station a billboard that proclaimed “The Truth. Legal Name Fraud.” These posters had appeared that summer all over England, a material world spillover of a bizarre internet conspiracy theory about identity. Attempts to identify those behind the campaign had failed, and the trail ended with a Canadian woman known as ‘Kate of Gaia’. The appearance of these posters had been, in retrospect, an omen of a summer in which fringe politics had veered suddenly into the mainstream.
A year ago I was offered the chance to help put together four anthologies of new and old writing about the seasons, in support of The Wildlife Trusts. The timing was terrible: I’d begun writing my third novel and then abandoned it, fallen into despair, and then come up with a new idea, which I was about to start work on, while on the horizon loomed the publication of my non-fiction book Rain and the paperback of At Hawthorn Time, with all the publicity commitments that would surround them. To work on four anthologies to come out within a year, while also holding down a job as the production editor of Mixmag magazine, seemed an utterly ridiculous idea. I said yes. (more…)
Illustration: Harry Langworthy
You may remember, a couple of weeks ago, we announced that we were planning to mark Apple Day 2016 with a musical soundtrack, and asked you to send us your favourite apple-related tracks.
Here, in short, are the fruits of your labour, handily collated into a Spotify playlist. Enjoy. (more…)
No sooner had we embraced the change of season than this terrific riot of colour arrived and lit up the office. Great Britain in Colour is exactly that: a journey through the British Isles brilliantly reimagined by the artist / illustrator Paul Farrell. Landmarks, icons and familiar scenes sit boldly alongside lesser spotted delights of the British landscape, in a book which which comes with a massive feelgood factor.
Fancy a copy? You’ll find it for sale here the Caught by the River shop, priced £20. Alternatively, you can try your luck in this week’s newsletter competition, where three copies will be up for grabs (courtesy of Pan Macmillan). If you aren’t already subscribed, you can sign up to our mailing list using the box in the top right hand corner of this page. (more…)