It is a gentle meander through England, a ramble across the counties, a dip in the sea, a view from a cliff, a walk on the moor, an exploration of people who have created or conserved spaces of tranquility, and a discovery of unspoiled and restored locations. It is also a tribute to those who strive hard to create a Slow Life and run a business.
For any reader who thinks Slow is easy, they will soon discover it’s not. As demonstrated through the life stories of the people named in “Go Slow England,” time, commitment, hard work and an ability to balance organic dreams with making a living are essential ingredients for success.
The underpinning concepts of Going Slow are an appreciation of community, family and environment as well as a meaningful understanding of the impact of our actions on others. Many of the businesses profiled have been started by people like James & Siận at the Royal Oak in Somerset who state ‘We wanted to change direction and be closer to our parents.’ All of them have a desire to create positive change in their lives and in the lives of those around them.
There are role models who put their money where their mouths are and, like Susan Lilienthal at the Parsonage Farm in Somerset, offer discounted accommodation to those who arrive on public transport, bicycle or on foot; there are many who buy only locally-produced and preferably organic food for their kitchens, grow their own vegetables, make their own bread, keep animals, sell locally-produced and home-made goods.
Most of the settings are rural, but not all. Cottages, hotels, manor houses, farms, a semi-detached redbrick house in London and even a Tipi site nestle comfortably next to each other in this book. Each location has a distinct flavour that blends the creativity and dreams of its host/hostess with the local landscape and community.
The book is broken into digestible sections, starting with Cornwall and Devon, moving through Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, onto London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent, up to Suffolk, Norfolk and Northamptonshire, across to Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, into Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire, and finally landing in Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland.
Interspersed with photographs, recipes, (I would love to try Glynis Bidwell’s Plum Fudge Pudding on page 58), poems and historic anecdotes are indexed maps, pricing information, contact details, useful websites and even a comparative guide on ‘How to be fast’ and ‘How to be slow.’
It would take a lifetime to visit all these places and do them justice. In fact, having reviewed Go Slow England, I see no reason to ever go abroad for a holiday again, unless, of course, I am searching for a guaranteed blend of sunshine, blue skies and high temperatures which, being in England, none of these locations can offer.
Go Slow England by Alistair Sawday and Gail McKenzie. Publishers: Alistair Sawday Publishing Co. Ltd, ISBN -13 : 978-1906136-03-1
‘It is an enviable life, but they have worked harder than we can imagine to create it.’ (Go Slow England – Page 107)
About the reviewer, Louise Gethin:
Originally trained as a nurse in Bristol, she spent four years working with people with HIV in the mid nineties. Highlights of her life include: trekking to Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal; working in New Zealand; being an aunt to three nephews and two nieces; and living for three years on a houseboat only a stone’s throw away from Windsor Castle.
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