Monday, 29 January 2018

roadside snowdrops, burns night supper, the debatable land: the lost world between scotland and england by graham robb







Came across this patch of snowdrops when cycling on Saturday. They were on the verge between Clanfield and Black Bourton.

As last week, there are days that feel as if spring has arrived and others when winter whistles in with a vengeance.

On Saturday night we had our Burns Night supper. Delicious Cullen Skink and haggis, get-up-and-dance Orcadian fiddle music, tingling Cairn o'Mohr spring oakleaf wine and a dram of Highland Park. Not to mention a poem or two.

On a related theme, I was fascinated to read Melanie Reid's review of The Debatable Land: The Lost World between Scotland and England by Graham Robb (Picador, 334pp, £20) in the Times on Saturday. An exploration of the violent history of the borderlands of Scotland and England - or, as the Times intro put it 'the brutal past of the bloody no man’s land where two countries meet'.

More accustomed to writing about French literary history, Robb seems nevertheless to have produced a vivid account of the area to which he and his wife (my former boss) moved some years ago. Having heard a little of these lawless times from a friend who is a descendant of one of the fearsome border reiver families, the Armstrongs, this is a book that I look forward to reading.

Melanie Reid concludes by saying of Robb:

'His skill as a writer is to understand, without being fey, the fourth dimension: peeling back the modern landscape to find buried stories and forgotten paths, metaphors for life. He has the ability to bring alive quirk and coincidence - although sometimes too much - in the resonance of place and time. If nothing else, I hope his book encourages people off the M6 and into the lost interior of the Debatable Land.'

For those with access beyond the paywall: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/review-the-debatable-land-the-lost-world-between-scotland-and-england-by-graham-robb-k6htvtzhc.

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