A few years ago, after expressing an interest in trees (!) I received for christmas, three books.
1. Meetings With Remarkable Trees, by Thomas Pakenham
2. Hidden Trees of Britain, by Archie Mills, and
3. Wildwood – A Journey Through Trees, by Roger Deakin
Now on the face of it, the Pakenham and Mills tomes were by far and away the more appetising prospect with lavish colourand beautiful photography, whereas the Deakin was clad in a (comparatively) low-key cover, which when combined with the description of the author as someone who “lives in shacks and cabins, travels in search of the wild apple groves of Kazakhstan, goes coppicing in SUffolk,swims beneath the walnut trees of the Haut-Languedoc, and (who) hunts bush-plums with Aboriginal women in the outback”. This coupled with the fact that his previous book was a journal on swimming seriously jaundiced my expectations ( I always hated swimming!) How wrong I was, this boo is fabulous, Deakin is a thoroughly engaging character, a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide toall things arboreal, and his lifestyle seemed enviable. An intriguing array of characters, facts and varied locations meant I read the book rapidly and with much pleasure. The best bits for me though were the sections in his native Suffolk, on and around Walnut Tree Farm, his railway truck and Shepherd’s hut – even swimming with the wildlife in his moat.
I enjoyed this so much, I tracked down and read Waterlog and the posthumous Notes From Walnut Tree Farm with great enthusiasm – do yourself a favour and give one of them a go – you may find the thought of the subject matter to be not to your taste, but a good narrative in the hand of an excellent writer may well persuade you otherwise. I still haven’t taken up swimming though!
There’s lots about the late Mr Deakin on the net, including links to some radio docs he did for the BBC.
Cigarette on the Waveney – give yourself a treat and listen to Roger as he paddles his canoe down the Waveney!