Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Under the Tump - book review

Oliver Balch's book Under the Tump doesn't feature many sheds but it was entirely written in one. Subtitled 'Sketches of Real Life on the Welsh Borders', it follows the writer and journalist as he and his family (including wife Emma who is setting up the first museum of books at Hay, The Story of Books) relocate to the environs of Hay-on-Wye in Wales. Here he is on his writing shed (pictured below):
Emma had the tool shed in the garden converted for me. As a work space, it has everything I need; a phone line, internet, and an electric heater for when the winter cold creeps under the door. The furnishings are simple and functional which suits me fine. A few bookshelves along the walls. A filing cabinet in the corner. A large wooden table, complete with a view onto our vegetable patch and through to a wild flower garden that blooms into bright oranges and pinks in the summer.

The running thread throughout Under the Tump is a perceptive analysis of how communities function, especially with 'incomers', and will appeal to anybody interested in oral history as well as the diaries of Victorian clergyman Francis Kilvert which are something of an inspiration for the whole enterprise. Full of intelligent wisdom, it's not a shouty book, rather a personal investigation into whether you can stop becoming an inbetween person when you move to a rural town.

It also has a marvellous book jacket designed by Eleanor Crow.

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