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
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.