Well not actually with Robert Macfarlane there... though who knows where this particular reading trail may lead given that the last shared project we did on Now All Roads Lead to France saw a group of us taking tea with Matthew Hollis in Covent Garden. Both Matthew Hollis and Robert Macfarlane will be at Port Eliot Festival this year so I am hoping I may be able to lure them both to speak in the dovegreyreader tent.
I am delighted to have been invited to speak as part of a panel discussing Social Reading at the London Book Fair next month, and whilst dovegreyreader scribbles might be a vehicle for all sorts of thoughts and reading of my own, it is also a place to involve you in that two-way love, along with the experience and pleasure of sharing great books whenever I can. Talking of which I hope you are ready for Team Middlemarch Book Two Old and Young this weekend...I think we may need to talk about Tertius Lydgate.
I knew as soon as I started reading it that The Old Ways was 'our' sort of book. A book that could be shared creatively and that we could go on a reading journey together (sorry it's the over-used 'journey' word, still haven't thought of a better one) alongside Robert Macfarlane, but also perhaps we could translate it into some real journeys, and walk or sail some landscapes of our own.
We went to the Eric Ravilious exhibition at the Royal Western Academy in Bristol yesterday and then lunch with the Kayaker, all a lovely Mothering Sunday treat, and the pictures were an absolute inspiration, merging seamlessly with The Old Ways which I have been reading this week...
Much more about Eric Ravilious to come but here's the information about The Old Ways from the Penguin website..
Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to travel the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast network of old routes criss-crossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt ancient paths, of the stories our tracks tell, of pilgrimage and ritual, trespass and transgress, of songlines and their singers, of border-crossings and landscape portals, and of walking as a reconnoitre inwards.
Told in Macfarlane's distinctive and lyrical voice, the book folds together geology, archaeology, natural history and cartography, and is densely peopled by eccentrics, visionaries, artists and poets, all of whom understand themselves by means of landscape. Along the way, Macfarlane sleeps out in copses and beehive shielings, on mountain-tops and chalk downs. He discovers, above all, that paths offer not just a means of traversing space, but also ways of feeling, being, knowing and thinking.
Now I am not suggesting you all have to go out and find a beehive shieling to sleep under in order to take part, though of course I will be trying hard and may camp out on the veranda for a night (joke) but Penguin have very kindly agreed to send out twelve copies of The Old Ways, in proof edition to twelve interested readers here who would like to read the book, and then go off and travel their own landscapes and report back here for the rest of us.
That is not to say that anyone else can't buy a copy of the book when it comes out in June, do likewise and become part of Team Old Ways too.
So have a think...
Is this of interest to you...
Do you live in or near a landscape or route that holds special meaning for you and that you would like to share with the rest of us....
Perhaps you will be travelling to an interesting landscape and walking or sailing it soon...
Does this quote from the early pages of the book set your mind racing..
'...what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else?'
Does this vision of Edward Thomas's chime with you...
'...of path as story, with each new walker adding a new note or plot-line along the way.'
Would you feel able to write about your trail and your chosen landscape, and even better take some pictures for a post here in the future...
If you are wondering or worried about what may be involved in doing that perhaps check back to some of the Team Edward Thomas posts and see what people came up with. You would need to be aware that there will be some behind the scenes communication with each other involved via a members-only online list that I have set up, and to which the twelve will be invited. Fran H-B has kindly agreed to help me with this and I think Team Edward Thomas would agree it became a really helpful way of seeing our project through, and sharing links and thoughts before they shaped up on here.
If you think this is for you then you would be most welcome to join Team Old Ways and it would be great, given the worldwide audience here, to get a variety of worldwide landscapes..
By all means add comments to this post with your thoughts, but if you would like to be considered for one of the proof copies please e mail me at dovegreyreader at gmail.dot com using the subject line TEAM OLD WAYS. Those are the applications I will be selecting from, not the comments.
Include details of your proposed landscape and why you have chosen it... I may or may not come back to you with some questions but then I will steel myself to choose the twelve readers who offer us the widest range of experiences to receive a copy of the book very soon (they are ready and waiting to post).
I will apologise in advance for the bit I dread... that inevitably this may leave some people disappointed in the first instance if more than twelve of you apply, but the book proper will be published in June and it won't be too late to join in then if you wish. I envisage this will be ongoing throughout the year.
'As the pen rises from the page between words, so the walker's feet rise and fall between paces....writing and wayfaring are continuous activities, a running stitch, a persistence of the same seam or stream.'
And with that one last and very appropriate thought from Robert Macfarlane it's over to you.