Friday, 7 April 2017

Review: Floating: A Journey Through Roger Deakin's Waterlog

Floating: A Journey Through Roger Deakin's Waterlog Floating: A Journey Through Roger Deakin's Waterlog by Joe Minihane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For those that haven’t read Waterlog, then you should. In my opinion it has reached the point where it could be considered a classic tome now. Joe Minihane was one of those who has discovered the delights that the prose of Roger Deakin could offer. In the process of reading and re-reading this book, a germ of an idea grew. Twenty years after it was first published, Joe decided to recreate Deakin’s journey by swimming where he had before and to see how the wild swimming landscape had changed in the two decades.

A lot of the locations could be reached fairly easily, close to a tube station or at the end of a ride on a bicycle. To get to some of the others in the more remote parts of the UK would take a bit more effort though, especially as Joe can’t drive! It was time to find companions who want to join him in the cold waters of the UK and perhaps rekindle some old friendships that had faded in the busyness of modern life. However, this project was going to have a much more profound effect of Minihane’s life. He was to use the rituals of swimming to fight against the black dog depression and anxiety that he suffers from, slowly opening up to friends and seeking the professional help that he needs.

But this is more than that, not only does he describe the joys and shocks of immersing himself in the cold waters in this island, often with a sharp intake of breath, but like Deakin’s original, it is a frog’s eye view of the present state of our watery natural world. He lets his worries float away downstream and develops stronger bonds with old friends. Waterlog is a tremendous book, and this book by Minihane is a fitting tribute to Deakin and his legacy. A poignant reminder of the healing power of nature.

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