Tuesday, 7 July 2020

On the Red Hill ; Where Four Lives Fell into Place

 When I wrote about the long list for the  Wainwright prize for nature writing on June 9th, I said there was one that sounded interesting............. so I bought it. 

It was 'On the Red Hill' by Mike Parker

Wainwright Prize Nature Writing 

On the Red Hill is the story of Rhiw Goch, ‘the Red Hill’, and its inhabitants, but also the story of a remarkable rural community and a legacy that extends far beyond bricks and mortar. It is a story that celebrates the turn of the year’s wheel, of ever-changing landscapes, and of the family found in the unlikeliest of places.

I like reading about parts of the country I know and the small town of Machynlleth is a place we often visited whenever we went to The Centre for Alternative Technology which is just a few miles from the town.

 This is a story of a house in the hills outside of Machynlleth and the two people who owned it before passing it to the author and his partner.

 In 2016 Mike Parker and his partner Peredur were witnesses at the civil partnership of their elderly friends Reg and George, the first to be held in the Welsh town of Machynlleth. A few years later when Reg and George died within weeks of each other Mike and Peredur found that Rhiw Goch had been left to them. Mike has put this book together using George's diaries and photographs and Reg's paintings and notes and the memories of people who knew them. This fascinating book is a look at how life for gay couples has changed in 60 years and how the year turns in a quiet beautiful part of North Wales.

There was one paragraph that resonated for me ...........Silence is as rare and precious a commodity as a truly dark sky, and only more so today. Almost no one, even in the countryside, is free of the hiss of traffic somewhere in their soundscape, the starkest proof of our Faustian pact with the car. I know that the irony verges on hypocrisy, for living at Rhiw Goch makes us painfully dependent on driving, but the divine absence of road noise here is the luxury I'd find hardest to give up.

That's just how I feel about this house. As the quiet country roads near the smallholding gradually got busier we (well me usually)  often wondered if there was anywhere left in Suffolk where you couldn't hear constant traffic in the distance. This house up the end of the lane is one of those rare places. That's one reason I will be sad to leave when the time comes.

I enjoyed On The Red Hill - a really good well written story.

Back Tomorrow
Sue


28 comments:

  1. I read a review of the book which said firstly it was a bit long and parts of it stretched out too far and secondly you never really got close to the elderly couple. I suspect it is easy enough to deal with the long winded bits by skipping over them but not so sure about getting close to the elderly pair. I'll look out for it when it starts appearing in the charity shops.

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    Replies
    1. I'll send you it, then you can decide. I certainly didn't find it long winded.
      I don't want to keep it and it's only worth pence on the secondhand book sites.

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    2. Ha Ha. I was trying to put off the day when I might tentatively pick it up. Please don't send it, perhaps when we meet for coffee one day... I note that the tables have been set out again in Morrisons.

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    3. Just seen BB's comment re. traffic. No traffic noise here either.

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    4. Just back from Morrisons - cafe is open and was completely empty. Lots of glass screens between fewer tables. Looked OK.

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    5. I'll take a look, just off down there in a minute, we can liaise.

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  2. What a powerful quote and so true.
    Hopefully, your time to leave is way, way in the future still.
    xx

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    Replies
    1. Hope so - though it's hard work sometimes.

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  3. Sounds like a good book. Have you read "on the Black Hill" a novel by Bruce Chatwin, set on the Welsh borders?

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    Replies
    1. I remember trying it and failing - a long time ago

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  4. That sounds a book to look out for. We are fortunate here in having no traffic noise either. I confess we take it for granted!

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    Replies
    1. Enjoy the quiet - not many places left in England where there are no busy roads

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  5. One of the things that makes our Welsh home so easy to give up is the constant road noise. It never bothered Alan until the quiet at the start of lockdown when only a dozen cars or so every couple of hours passed and no huge lorries rushing past at night highlighted how noisy it usually was.

    The peace at the Van is such a contrast, especially at night.

    I'm not sure if I have this book I know you and John recommended it at the same time, so maybe it's on my bookshelf at home.

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    1. I couldn't have lived at your smallholding - much too busy. Our smallholding was on a quiet back road when we moved in but a Waitrose and a Tesco made it much busier although it was still quiet at nights

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  6. I have been wondering whether to buy this book for the last week or so - after reading your review I shall go over to Amazon and buy it Sue. Thank you.

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  7. Replies
    1. Hope you like it, I'm always worried when people buy books I've written about

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    2. Gosh, don't be Sue. I've just finished 'A Hidden Home in the Gwydyr Forest' which you so kindly sent me and I loved it. And yes I did know most of the places that Janet speaks about. It's nice when you can read a book and picture yourself in the market or being dropped off on a certain corner, or crossing a bridge that takes you deep into a forest. Thank you for passing it on to me.

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  8. Where we live up on Dartmoor, we don't hear the traffic. If we hear a car in the street after about 7 in the evening, we wonder what's wrong. The silence is what I will miss most when we move from here. Helen S.

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    1. Another beautiful quiet place to live - and views too - don't have the height for views here

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  9. It sounds as if I might enjoy it. The CAT at Machynlleth is a super place to visit.

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    1. We used to go to CAT every time we went to Wales, which was most years - and walked up the hill to get the entry price cheaper!

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  10. You would probably hate where we live sue! directly onto an A road. Upside is that it is usually easy to sell produce and the numbers of people who are looking out for us since lockdown, knowing that David is shielding, they are waving over the road, shouting offers of help and leaving "presents" at the gate. Gill

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    1. Between the ages of 0 and 20 I lived right beside an A road taking all the traffic to Felixstowe docks it gradually got busier but I didn't notice it at all - the ignorance of youth!

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  11. Living in a city, we have constant traffic noise. That was one thing I loved about lock-down - everything was so peacefully quiet :)

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  12. We lived in the last house for more than thirty years.The murmur of traffic from the rudimentary highway a mile away entered my conscience so little that I thought the noise, when I was conscious of it, was the river. Only in the last few years there was I disabused, and even then, didn't care.

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  13. I have just put a hold on it in our local Whangarei library.

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