Leaving her garden to the mercy of the slugs, award-winning writer Alys Fowler set out in an inflatable kayak to explore Birmingham's canal network, full of little-used waterways where huge pike skulk and kingfishers dart. Her book is about noticing the wild everywhere and what it means to see beauty where you least expect it.
What happens when someone who has learned to observe her external world in such detail decides to examine her internal world with the same care? Beautifully written, honest and very moving, Hidden Nature is also the story of Alys Fowler's emotional journey: above all, this book is about losing and finding, exploring familiar places and discovering unknown horizons.
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Fowler wanted an adventure and to be alone with nature. She thought about climbing in the Andes Mountains, but then reality brought her to seek something closer to home.
Fowler bought a portable, inflatable kayak that she could put into a backpack to explore the canals of Birmingham. The author describes some of the canals that were built in the 1790s. Fowler describes the wildlife and plant life that grows along the banks and in the water. She tells of paddling through the Dudley tunnel and through the Gast Street Basin as well as the Oozell Street Loop. Fowler also describes the floating rubbish, discarded industrial equipment and even floating coconut shells. I got a big kick out of her encounter with the geese.
The book is well written and researched. This is a sort of travel memoir. The book made me want to paddle the canals and observe nature. It also made me want to clean up the garbage in and along the canals and fight to have the canals dredged. I think if they were cleaned up they would make a great recreational area for people. Fowler states that volunteers are working to re-establish some of the forgotten canals that are unusable. The author made paddling the canals sound like great fun. I understand the book was on the short list for the Wainwright Prize.
The book was seven and a half hours long. Miranda Bunny Cook does an excellent job narrating the book. Cook is an actress and audiobook narrator.
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