Martha Kennedy reviews A Walk to the Water

24472912._UY200_Fellow walker and writer Martha Kennedy reviews  A Walk to the Water.

Kennedy (1952 – ) was born in Denver, Colorado and earned her undergraduate degree in American Literature from University of Colorado, Boulder and her graduate degree in American Literature from the University of Denver. Martin of Gfenn is the winner of two awards: Editor’s Choice Award, Indie Authors, Historical Novel Society, 2015 and B.R.A.G. Medallion, 2015.

To learn more about Kennedy and her work please visit her blog, I’m a Writer, Yes I Am or take a look at her Amazon page.

Martha Kennedy reviews A Walk to the Water

A Walk to the Water by Daniel Graham, SilverWood Books, 2015, 302 pages

I like to hike, and I’ve enjoyed Daniel Graham’s WordPress blog, “Scuffed Boots,” so when I learned of his book, A Walk to the Water, I immediately ordered it. I communicate a bit with Graham through our blogs; we’ve exchanged the titles of books we’ve enjoyed, commented on each others walking stories, so I was very optimistic that I’d enjoy his book — I did.

Essentially, this is the story of a looonnnggg walk taken by Graham and his brother, Jake, from their home in Bristol, England (yes, it begins at their front door) to Menton on the French Riviera culminating in a jubilant dip into the Mediterranean Sea. At the end of the book, Graham does the math — 3000 km/1800 miles in six million steps over the course of four months mostly over the Grande Randonnée 5. When the moment comes that they must leave the G5 for a sub-route, the G5-2, Graham writes, “…we felt sad to be leaving the highs and lows of the foot-wide abrasion that had been our home for more than a quarter of a year.”

For the most part, the brothers spend their days and nights on the trail, pitching their tent — Ted — wherever they’re able to find level ground. The brothers endure the expected agonies — blisters, hunger, digestive problems. Throughout the journey, the reader meets friendly, helpful people Graham calls “Trail Angels,” endures slug infested boots, observes the hunting and gathering methods of ants, meets fellow wanderers such as “Tim,” “Spiritual” and “The Friendly Eyed-Scot.” Graham seems to view human beings with the same curious, well-humored perspective he turns to the insects he names.

Graham writes about being “addicted” to walking, something I’m pretty well acquainted with. While there is (no question) a chemical component to that, there is also something elegant and liberating about a trail. It conveys a certainty that normal meandering through daily life doesn’t. As the brothers confront their journey’s final days, Daniel asks his brother if he’s excited about finishing the hike, and Jake responds, “Yes and no. I’m a bit scared.” Graham himself wonders, “How would we survive without the small comforts that we had come to love from the path, and with that the grandeur of the animals and trees, the water and the rocks? It was going to be hard to adjust, and, like Jake, I, too, was scared.”

I enjoyed the book very much. Graham’s writing is clean and clear, in rhythm something like a walk on a trail, each moment deserving attention. He skillfully balances the emotional challenges — missing family and girlfriends, for example — with the wonderment the brothers feel, and share, at their adventure and nature’s small and large revelations. Graham is an observant hiker, and the book is filled with luminous descriptions of  “ordinary” things, for example, “…the route dropped into great meadows, where cattle-trodden terraces bloomed with sleepy buttercups, whilst huddles of gossiping mushrooms whispered beneath the shade of their golden caps.”

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A Walk to the Water publication and book launch

A Walk to the Water: Six Million Steps to the Mediterranean Sea is now available. To get a hold of a copy please visit SilverWood Books, or any other major online bookstore, including Waterstones, Blackwell’s and Amazon.

I will be holding a book launch at the Spotted Cow pub in Bristol, from 7.30pm – 9.00pm on the 9th November 2015. Please do feel free to stop by should the distance be achievable.

For more information and regular updates, head over to my author website: danielegraham.wix.com/author

A Walk to the Water - Daniel Graham

A Walk to the Water – Daniel Graham

The Wild Places – Robert Macfarlane

A couple of weeks ago, whilst rambling through the wild flower-strewn grazing lands of the Mendip Hills just south of Bristol, a friend told me I must read Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places. I received the book yesterday and immediately got to it.

Ten pages in, I began to feel unusually torn: Macfarlane’s writing is evocative and luring, yet with each page I turn I want to drop the book and venture out into the wild. This is a compliment, no doubt, to an author and a book that, based on the first chapter alone, must be read by anyone with an ounce of longing for the wilderness running through their veins.

The Wild Places, Robert Macfarlane

The Wild Places, Robert Macfarlane

Butterfly Johnny

Johnny admiring the butterflies at Bristol Zoo Gardens, England

Johnny admiring the butterflies at Bristol Zoo Gardens, England. Acrylic on Canvas (Daniel Graham)

Swooping from plant to plant, the butterflies of Bristol Zoo Gardens are quite marvelous to watch. Catching Johnny’s eye, a glasswinged butterfly dances through the humidity of the house and lands on a banana plant. He gazes up at the lepidoptera, its wings transparent, its proboscis curled.

I painted this portrait of Johnny with the ambition of capturing the studious and captivated look marked across the entirety of his face.