Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Hidey Holes

Hidey Holes is a book of Beautiful Hideaways, Bolt Holes and Harbours in England and Wales.

It is by Robin Whitcomb and it is a truly fascinating book. So fascinating that I have had to wait for a couple of weeks to review it because my wife was absolutely riveted by it!

Yorkshire-born Robin Whitcomb has lived an interesting life. A student of Cranleigh School in Surrey, after a couple of years working in the oil industry in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he spent time in LA with his older brother Ian, a musician who had a smash hit with "You Turn Me On", who introduced him to Sonny and Cher, who, at that time, were a pair of rapidly rising stars.

Robin became their drummer and perchusionist and who played on their smash massive hit: "I Got You Babe".

After returning to the UK, Robin played cricket for the MCC and rugby for Richmond and other clubs.

Amongst other things, after several years on The Daily Telegraph he taught at Dulwich Prep for 33 years.

This is his third book.

The book brings the reader to a variety of absolutely charming places in and around the coastal areas of England and Wales.

There are some perfectly crafted paintings by local artists and also some stunningly beautiful and well-composed images photographed by Robin himself.

There are also some first class descriptive texts that tell you all that you need to know about the villages, towns, hamlets and small communities that he found on his travels with his (late) companion, his Labrador Coco. She was his constant companion throughout the five years that it took Robin to create this utterly charming and quintessentially English book, which he, with considerable English charm,  dedicated to Coco.

See the drama that is Mullion Cove, the majesty of Boscastle -and the local Witchcraft Museum!- the Ship Inn of Mousdehole and the story of how it was attacked and almost totally destroyed by Spanish raiders. Squire Jenkin Keigwin was able to kill six of them who had attacked his house, before he was cruelly murdered, but still with his sword in his hand. A brave Cornishman to the very end!

It was later famed as the home of Dolly Pentreath who died at age 101 who was reputedly the last person able to speak in the ancient Cornish tongue, when she died in 1777.

See dramatic mine ruins, read about the smugglers who worked the coast and of novelists like D. H. Lawrence and Agatha Christie who made Cornwall their homes for lesser or greater times.

There are preserved railway lines, cliff railways and much, much more.

Moving on to Northern England there are castles, like Bamburgh, fishing villages like Craster, and locations like Robin Hood's Bay.

Moving round the coast we find the magic of Norfolk, with basking seals, motoring museums and the birthplace of Lord Nelson. And more preserved railway lines, like the Wells-Walsingham Railway.

There's the magical coastline of Pembrokshire, including Porthgain. There's Solva -with the horrifying story of why there was always three light house keepers and there's Abereiddy with its Blue Lagoon and the interesting story of how it came into being.

This high quality coffee table sized book is published in hardback by Troubador at a remarkably reasonable £14.99 and will make a wonderful conversation piece and an equally superb present for the armchair traveller. Or for the person who wants to have things to look for when they take a coastal holiday.

It is available from the That's Book and Entertainment book shop, which you will find to the right hand side of this book review.

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