Last day of summer break before I go back to work, a week before my class comes back. It's been a strange summer, back to travelling, a bit of relaxing, a bit of personal stress. The kids are old enough to entertain among themselves, but not good at going out to find their friends due to Covid, so I think they'll be excited to go back to school.
Getting to go back to Scotland twice was amazing. Once on my own to Lewis and Harris with lots of writing and relaxing, once with some of the kids to Glasgow to see friends and family. Both were pretty perfect. After my big book haul in Ullapool, we also hit the bookshops in Glasgow. My younger son has gotten into manga, so Forbidden Planet became his Mecca and after he struggled for so long to get into reading with dyslexia, I was happy to oblige him. Luckily the airline didn't weigh our carryons as I think between the two of us they were a bit heavy with books.
With the travelling, I just managed to finish Ponies at the Edge of the World by Catherine Munro this week. I have to admit I'm not a real non-fiction reader, I struggle with being told what connections to make when reading, but I was a pony-crazy girl, so this seemed a natural draw to me, Scotland and ponies.
The book's not really about Shetland ponies, though they are the hook that drew the author to Shetland as well as me to the book. Munro uses ponies and the relationship between man and animal in an environment to look at her own developing relationship with the Shetland Islands and how she found her own place within it. Filled with beautiful descriptions of the ponies and other native animals and landscapes, Munro draws us to the beauty of the islands.
It's her descriptions of the local people I found more interesting. She doesn't shy from the Shetlandic language and shares some local traditions and customs, but she was also able to capture how the small population spread out over the islands manages to create a strong sense of community, between each other and the land. Her non-fiction asides on adaptation and connection to place which were part of the research that took her to Shetland were applied to the ponies and the people and herself, but didn't feel too heavy-handed.
Ponies at the Edge of the World shares a unique view of the Shetland Islands and its people and animals, connected to each other and their landscape and how choosing to be a part of this place requires a sense of personal adaptation and acceptance. Worth a read.
August is the Sealey Challenge month, to read a book of poetry a day for the entire month. It's already the second and with school starting for me tomorrow, I know it isn't going to happen. I did pick up some poetry books in Scotland, so my goal is to read them over this month. I post on Twitter first and then collect them here as I did last year.