Tuesday 16 August 2011

Life in the Slow Lane

Two editors of the Idler Magazine, discussed slow living with Al Senter.

As the rain poured down on the Edinburgh International Book Festival tents in Charlotte Square, Matthew De Abaitua talked about the joys of camping. Spending time in a tent in a wild place can take you back to nature, he argued, and help you rediscover a self that is more in tune with the natural world, more able to cope with mild adversity and become more self sufficient. His argument might have been more convincing if the weather had been better, but he was certainly very interesting as he outlined some of the history of camping as a leisure pursuit and tool for developing character. He also shared some of his personal experiences of camping, from watching an early sunrise to the problems of camping on a roof in the middle of London.

Then the focus moved to Tom Hodgkinson, who talked about his move from city living to living in a huge abandoned farmhouse and taking up smallholding with his family. He also very eruditely talked about the history of 'back to the land' literature (mentioning Thoreau among others) and of farming didactics in poetry (mentioning Virgil among others as writers of verse that was intended to offer instruction in agriculture as well as entertain). He talked about how we can reclaim the best things from our ancestors, arguing as did de Abaitua that we have lost our once close relationship to the land.

There was then a lively audience discussion about how can we find more space for nature and slowness in our lives without necessarily moving to the countryside or spending all summer in a tent in a muddy field in the Scottish Highlands. Ideas included:

* spend time in public parks

* watch the clouds

* carry a notebook at all times to jot down thoughts or make sketches

The Art of Camping by Matthew de Abaitua published by Penguin.

Brave Old World by Tom Hodgkinson, published by The Idler

Disclaimer: I had a free press ticket for this event.

Later in the day, I went along to hear Sian Bevan reading a short story as part of Story Shop, an Edinburgh City of Literature project celebrating emerging writers in Edinburgh.


Mavis said...

Lucky you being able to go to all thos inspiring events. E B F season is the one time I regret being on Islay


Anonymous said...

Yes, lucky you :) Enjoying your updates. The thing I hate about camping is the packing and planning - if someone else could do all that, I'm in!

HKatz said...

I love those ideas.

Also, as a city-dweller, public parks and gardens are among my favorite places. I really do feel like I can slow down and breathe more deeply when I'm in them.

RG said...

S l o o o o o o wwww down!

Everyone is supposed to spend at least 7 nights per year under the stars.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I think I already live in the slow lane Juliet - but as for camping - you can count me out I am afraid I am a hotel kind of personm albeit a nice remote hotel.

I keep meaning to ask you if you have read Roger Deakin?

Martin said...

The modern world doesn't give up the answers, willingly, to the oldest and most asked questions.

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Love the ideas of visiting parks, looking at clouds and the notebooks. I don't enjoy camping at all. Way to many poisoness things where I live and too darn hot and humid. Now a tiny stone cottage with a warm fire, hot tea and a good book...fabulous.
xx, shell