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Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain Paperback – Import, January 1, 2000
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- Item Weight : 10.7 ounces
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0099282550
- ISBN-13 : 978-0099282556
- Product Dimensions : 5.08 x 1.02 x 7.8 inches
- Publisher : Vintage; New Ed Edition (January 1, 2000)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #121,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Two, I love to travel. When I am not travelling I am dreaming of where to go on my next trip. Heck, sometimes I dream of several trips after the next one I plan on taking.
So on her advice I ordered Waterlog and soon realized that I needed to have an Atlas and Botany / Entomology field guide nearby while reading this.
Mr. Deakin takes us not only on a swimmers journey about Great Britain, he takes us on a historical tour of his homeland. Water has played such an important part in the development of the towns along the way and his knowledge of this is related to us almost as a natural thought process of the swimmer getting into the groove of the long distance strokes.
One thing I certainly appreciated is his sense of total awareness of his surroundings as he is living in the moment, something we all need to be reminded of from time to time. His knowledge of, or at least his desire to learn about the flora and fauna from whence he swims portrays his total immersion in the moment. Nothing seems too small to escape his notice. When I go about my morning swims in the Lake where I live, I am reminded to do the same.
For someone who has no hesitation to swim in any body of water from small canals to the open sea, he is honest enough to admit to occasionally think about what “every swimmer fears from time to time.”
What is that fear? If you are an avid water dog, you know what that is. If you are not, then you really should find out.
Top reviews from other countries
Waterlog slips into this mode once or twice, but I was pleased to find that this book is not about 'Britain' (or 'England') at all. On the contrary, it brings a modern and cosmopolitan sensibility to the subject of swimming - specifically wild swimming (in places not made convenient or safe for recreational immersion), although he does visit purpose-built facilities too, from village pools to municipal baths in the city.
Deakin writes very effectively about the sensual and convivial experience of swimming, especially the intimacy with wildlife that it can afford. He also makes a passionate case against those private and public bodies that make spontaneous, non-profit swimming an option for only the most daring and enterprising individuals. The meandering course of his journey - which defiantly refuses to conform the conventionally-planned tour - is richly flavoured with a wealth of trivia and anecdotes about swimming in unusual places.
The narrative is punctuated by several epic projects, which required careful planning and assistance (West Loch Tarbert, the Medway estuary and - considered, but eventually abandoned - the Corryvrechan whirlpool) but what matters most is the intensity of the moment: 'The great thing about an aimless swim is that everything about it is concentrated in the here and now; none of its essence or intensity can escape into the past or future. The swimmer is content to be borne on his way full of mysteries, doubts and uncertainties. He is a leaf on the stream, free at last from his petty little purposes in life.'
Again and again, his descriptions lift you out of the ordinary. If he occasionally yearns for the era of Pullman coaches or wistfully evokes a billiard room or quotes Thomas Hardy, this is a Britain that is mostly seen through an international lens. The song of the wood pigeon is compared to Charlie Parker playing 'Peanuts'. In the Helford River in Cornwall Deakin's reference points are the Louisiana bayous and the Limpopo. The Little Ouse reminds him of the 'lush palm groves of the Draa Valley south of Marrakesh.' In Malham, he writes, 'I could have been in California.'
And of course the inspiration for the whole thing was John Cheever's story about a man making his way home from a party on Long Island, furtively dipping in all the pools along the way - an exercise he duplicates most closely at the book's end as he joins up all the swimmable water between his house in Suffolk and the sea at Walberswick, twenty-five miles away
Deakin is described by Wikipedia as "a writer, documentary-maker and environmentalist". Clearly an adventurous character, the book describes his experiences of wild camping, swimming and exploring places as diverse as the Yorkshire Dales, Cornwall, the Scotland Islands and Essex. This is not a book of superfluous words, but compelling details, coming together to create one of the finest books I have read in recent years.