Countryfile Magazine - - Lazy Days -

Em­bark­ing on a restora­tive quest fol­low­ing a mis­for­tune is a fa­mil­iar sub­ject for coun­try­side writ­ing. But Donaldson makes a de­light­ful and re­fresh­ingly un­con­ven­tional guide – she’s a work­ing-class Es­sex girl who has faith, packs lippy in her ruck­sack and is pet­ri­fied of daddy lon­glegs. Fol­low­ing an evic­tion and painful break-up, she quits her RSPB job to walk through her adopted North Kent Marshes, one of the most windswept, iso­lated and (Whit­stable aside) un­fash­ion­able stretches of coast in Eng­land. It’s a back­wa­ter of floods and foghorns, creeks and cranes, power sta­tions and pris­ons, where in­dus­try rubs shoul­ders with wet­land na­ture re­serves and barely prof­itable farm­ing.

The walk­ing be­comes a form of pil­grim­age and as Donaldson tra­verses the Hoo Penin­sula, Med­way es­tu­ary and Isle of Shep­pey, she en­coun­ters an ex­tra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion of fel­low non-con­form­ists ek­ing out a liv­ing in old house­boats, car­a­vans, buses and cab­ins. She ex­pertly re­counts the chal­lenges and re­wards of their al­ter­na­tive, low-im­pact life­styles, but finds that the re­lent­less march of money and ‘progress’ is putting their fu­tures at risk. Her beloved wa­ter­land on the fringes of Lon­don is threat­ened by ev­ery­thing from pro­posed is­land air­ports to de­vel­op­ments of chic water­side apart­ments, and you won­der how much longer it can sur­vive. Ben Hoare, BBC Wildlife

Sun­rise over Kingsnorth power sta­tion and a derelict boat on the Isle of Grain on the Hoo penin­sula. Carol Donaldson ex­plores these wa­ter­lands in On the Marshes

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