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At the Very End of the Road (cover)

Publisher: Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath

Publication Year: 2021

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 217

ISBN Number: 9781849954976

Price: £ 16.99

At the Very End of the Road

This book takes you through a year on the author, Phillip Edward’s, home ‘patch’ – a complex area of farmland, saltmarsh, river and coastline. Each chapter covers a calendar month, describing in intricate detail encounters with not just birds but mammals, plants, insects and everything else. Britain's fickle weather provides a backdrop to the seasonal changes. Each month is split into eight different accounts of an observation or discovery from that period. 

The intimate observations of wildlife are often described in remarkable detail – clearly the author immerses himself in each and every experience, however fleeting it may be.

This is an immersive book, but for me a few things might have helped. It’s very much a book with ‘place’ at the heart of it but we never know where that place is – western England is as much information as we get. It would have helped me to know the landscape and surroundings a little better if we were told where it is. Even a sketched map of the immediate area would have helped. There is also one species conspicuous by its absence – human beings. Any thoughts, feelings, or human touches are actively excluded and given that the UK is almost entirely a manmade landscape that seems a missed opportunity. I like places where people and wildlife rub alongside each other, and adding some personal stories may have helped.

There are numerous stunning passages in this book and it can really transport you to moments in time. I would treat this as a book to dip in and out of – making a point of picking it up each month to read a section (or chapter) appropriate to the season. This would definitely get you in the right frame of mind to head out there and make your own observations in the field. 

Book reviewed by Steve Willis

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