I’ve seen this book around a few times this year, recommended reading from a magazine I think. I’ve read Katherine May’s Electricity of Every Living Thing this year which is about her journey along the South West Coastal Path so I knew this one appealed to me. I found it in a charity shop. When I went to pay for the books I had found in the shop it was sitting on the counter, just waiting for me. At the end of the book Ray talks about quite a few coincidences and I wonder if this is one of them?
Ray and her husband Moth live in a farmhouse in Wales. They’ve been there for 20 years, raised two children and countless sheep and hens there. The children have gone off to university now and at the start of the book the couple are coming to the end of a four year court battle. Some years ago Moth had invested in a friends’ business. Turns out that the contract left them liable for any debts for the business so when it went under the ‘friend’ sought financial recompense. All they had was their home. Because of the complexities of the case they were not entitled to Legal Aid so Ray tried her best to deal with the legal aspects of the case. She lost. They lost their home.
Within days they had had to pack all their belongings and sell their hens. What they’d not sold they put in storage and then spent two weeks in Moth’s brothers’ house whilst he was on holiday. With their life’s work in tatters and nowhere to live they took the decision to walk the South West Coastal Path, the path that traverses the counties in the South Western corner of England, Somerset and Cornwall, Devon and Dorset and is 630 miles long. By this point not only had they lost their home but Moth has been diagnosed with a terminal disease.
What are they doing?
Packing only what they can carry including sleeping bags, a tent and cooking equipment they set off from Minehead with little money and only the knowledge that just under £40 will be deposited in their bank account every week. They can’t afford to even sleep in official campsites so intend to rough camp and survive on noodles.
This was a really interesting read. I’ve actually cycled up the first hill they speak of in Minehead and it is the nightmare they describe. I read that paragraph to my husband because much as it was a nightmare it is a happy memory for us. He suggested I see if the hills after were worse than that awful one. They were! Starting on the North coast is supposed to be the hardest place to start and if the hills are worse than that one then I can see why.
This story is emotional, of course, without being overly so. What Ray shows us is that life is there for us to grasp wherever the path has taken us. She also eloquently shows how homeless people are viewed, as scum, and how few people are kind. But when they are what a big difference they can make to someone. It’s the little things right!
I thought this was a beautifully written book and I enjoyed the scenery and the couples journey. It made me think about money and food and showers! I love Cornwall so I particularly enjoyed reading about their walks through that part of the coastline and it made me want to explore the walk myself, much as Katherine May’s book had a few months ago. Maybe that was why the book was waiting for me?
The only thing I am sad about is that I bought the book in a charity shop and that Ray doesn’t get any of the money. If she writes anything else I shall be first in the queue!