Raynor Winn – The Salt Path

Winn and her husband Moth, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness called corticobasal degeneration, became homeless after a bad investment and decided to walk the 630-mile (1,010 km) South West Coast Path.

I loved this book in many ways. It was such a wonderful glimpse into life on the edges of what we so oddly call ‘civilisation’. I got a feel for the freedom of it, the peace of it, the quiet, the fresh air, and at times I was envious. You get to experience life in a different way when you’re open to nature, and to the randomness of strangers. And it was described so beautifully, so evocatively, I do feel that through those descriptions I experienced a little bit more of rural Britain. The bit about the salted blackberries stuck in my mind for a long time afterwards. 

But it wasn’t glamorous and the precariousness of their situation was ever present. What was most fascinating was the different reactions people had to them when they said they were homeless compared to when they said they were on a hiking/wild camping adventure. 

The glimpses into the world of the homeless were interesting and important to read. How the country dwellers were priced out of their own homes, living a hand to mouth existence, how the city homeless lived in a dangerous, violent, harsh world. Something has gone very wrong with our country. 

The reason it has taken me so long to get round to writing a review is the deep anger I felt about a couple of bits of the book. The fact that they could be dumped into homelessness like that, losing a house and farm they had lived in for decades, because a ‘friend’ has caused their financial ruin and they hadn’t been able to get any legal aid. What an absolutely fucked up situation. Their bravery and decency and humour in the face of it all was amazing, and I felt such huge warmth towards Ray and Moth the whole way through the book. But personally, I was raging on their behalf. And don’t even get me started on Poppy. Who the hell exploits other people like that? Definitely not a ‘friend’. 

So for me it was quite an emotional and difficult trip, reading this book, not the inspirational and life affirming journey it may have been for other readers. Well, in some ways it was those things, but the anger took precedence in my ADHD mind. I left it well over two weeks before writing this review and the anger has subsided somewhat but it is definitely still there. 

Book and cup of tea, whilst guarding my seeds and seedlings on their little trip out of the greenhouse.

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