I have loved the sea and coast for as long as I can remember. Every day that you visit is different because one of the numerous factors has changed and I like the dynamics of the constantly changing light and tides. I would love to watch a winter storm from the cosy confines of a secure house too. However, for some people there is too much change where the land meets the sea. On the very eastern cost of our country, erosion of the soft cliffs there is happening at a dramatic rate.
The house on the edge of the cliff was demolished this week, which means we are now the house on the edge of the cliff.
Juliet Blaxland is one of those living on this fast-changing coastline. Way back in time there used to be a village there and in 1666 the church succumbed to the waves. The battle between sea and land has continued until now. Back in June 2015, her house was 50 paces from the cliff edge. Now, it is half that and getting closer year on year. One day their home will have to be demolished, they just don’t know when that day will be.
It is not just a book about the frightening rate of erosion, but about living a life in a place that she loves. Moves from wider contemplations on the rewilding of landscapes that mankind has realised that they cannot control to tiny details of day to day life and how that can affect our moods. She has come to understand that we are momentary beings on a transient planet; our three score and ten on this rock are nothing when compared to the lifetime of the Earth, though it saddens her with the way that is changing so rapidly.
I am not sure that I could live with that inevitable feeling that your home is going to one day fall into the sea, they can lose chunks as much 3 m in a single storm. Those who wanted to live closer to the sea are suddenly much closer than they ever thought that they would be. However, Blaxland is quite philosophical about the whole thing. I really liked this book, Blaxland’s writing is evocative, whether she is writing about the roar of a storm, jugs of homemade Pimm’s or the attempt to create a crop circle. She has a deep love of the coastal landscape she inhabits. They still live there and will do until the bitter end.
Paul Cheney 4*
The Easternmost House by Juliet Blaxland
Sandstone Press 9781912240548 pbk Apr 2019