Conversations on the Coast

Sleeping children, and a good book - bliss!

Last Sunday afternoon, we bombed down the M6, arguably the most boring, direct route possible through the middle of the UK.  We were heading back from one of our regular escapes to my Mother's house on the North Wales Coast.

I sat in the back of our van, and (a little ironically) read a recently published book,  'Conversations on the Coast'.  The book came about as a result of a  4,541 mile bike ride along the entire coastline of the UK, clocking up an average speed of under 7 miles an hour.

In 2009, Nick Hand, the author, took on this fantastic adventure, spurred on by a wild idea on a Cornish Cycling holiday.  What would happen if we 'just carried on cycling around the coast'... ?

Don't panic, I haven't gone all Judith Charmers.  Whilst Conversations on the Coast is pocket sized, it is not a travel guide, nor (thank goodness) a catalogue of puncture repairs and saddle sore.  It is a beautifully curated collection of transcribed interviews with the most fascinating people.  Nick has recorded his conversations with craftsmen and women, that he met and chatted with along his 'slowcoast' journey.  He says that arriving at these interviews on a bicycle put people at ease, enabling them to talk freely with passion and pride about their crafts and what inspires them.

The short introduction describes the rather interesting, hows, whys and wherefores of the trip, (what do you pack for 5 months in the saddle?) However, the rest of the book is made up entirely of short one or two page interviews with craftsmen from all corners of the UK and Irish coast.  You can hear the accents as you read!
"I never anticipated how powerful the collection of conversations I recorded would be.  I was privileged to meet some amazingly talented folk who are working in traditional and new crafts, from potters, to musicians, to painters, to people who work on the land or sea.  These craftspeople need our support to survive, and I hope the next generation respects and values the tradition and skills that they can pass on."

You can purchase 'Conversations on the Coast' from The Department of Small Works or head over to Nick's blog - where you can listen and look at all of the fascinating soundslides collected along the journey.