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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Richard Mabey, as ever
I am alerted to any Richard Mabey publication and this one (short essay tho' it is) was as intersting as ever. I have lived along the Metropolitan line (i.e. in Metroland) all my life and in Chesham, at the end of the line, for 50+ years. Mabey describes many places well known to me in his own characteristic way which evokes childhood and school days, as well as...
Published 14 months ago by Barbara Young

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2.0 out of 5 stars going overground
not up to the standard of others i have read from this fine series. its ok worth a look though
Published 1 month ago by martin


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Richard Mabey, as ever, 29 April 2013
By 
Barbara Young - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Good Parcel of English Soil: The Metropolitan Line (Penguin Underground Lines) (Paperback)
I am alerted to any Richard Mabey publication and this one (short essay tho' it is) was as intersting as ever. I have lived along the Metropolitan line (i.e. in Metroland) all my life and in Chesham, at the end of the line, for 50+ years. Mabey describes many places well known to me in his own characteristic way which evokes childhood and school days, as well as describing nature in unusual and evocative ways. Did you know that tomato plants growing alongside roads, and in this case, the railway, indicate that people have thrown remnants of tomato sandwiches out of the window and the seeds have germinated?? This book also introduced me to the Penguin 150 anniversary Underground set and I have now have seven of them including the Piccadilly, along which line I travelled to school in the 1950's.
These little books are perfect presents for friends who might have connections with any of the lines.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review, 28 July 2013
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This review is from: A Good Parcel of English Soil: The Metropolitan Line (Penguin Underground Lines) (Paperback)
Yes, an easy read and clearly lovingly written by Mabey and well researched. I collect Mabey's books and was happy to receive this one.
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2.0 out of 5 stars going overground, 28 May 2014
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This review is from: A Good Parcel of English Soil: The Metropolitan Line (Penguin Underground Lines) (Paperback)
not up to the standard of others i have read from this fine series. its ok worth a look though
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 27 Dec 2013
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This review is from: A Good Parcel of English Soil: The Metropolitan Line (Penguin Underground Lines) (Paperback)
A good read looking at the areas alongside the line in terms of flora and fauna as well as the authors world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Casting a light on Metroland, 21 Dec 2013
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Good Parcel of English Soil: The Metropolitan Line (Penguin Underground Lines) (Paperback)
This is a splendid (little) book that seems to cast a light on a number of things.

Firstly and most obviously it is a potted history of the Metropolitan Line and the towns that grew up as a result of it being built. These towns form a region known as "Metroland" - a place where imagined dreams were sold and people escaped from London.

If this were the only thing the book looked at it would be interesting enough to recommend, as this was a huge project in commercial social engineering.

But I think that the more interesting part of this book is how it casts a light on much of the author's other writing.

Books such as "The Unofficial Countryside" - which addresses the ill-defined hinterland between urban and rural - and "Nature Cure" - which looks at the beneficial contact between people and a wild places - both have their origins in the experience, and sold dreams, of Metroland.

The turn of phrase and acute observation that I have come to expect form Mabey are all in place. If this book is typical of the others in this series, they will be worthwhile and interesting reading!

Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite, 13 Dec 2013
This review is from: A Good Parcel of English Soil: The Metropolitan Line (Penguin Underground Lines) (Paperback)
This charming and informative little book is another in the Penguin series issued to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the London Underground. This particular volume covers the Metropolitan Line (the purplish/claretish one - I'm a simple country boy and am not very strong on my intermediates shades!) which stretches out from the city centre out into Buckinghamshire and the Chilterns.

Like a few others in the series, it does not confine itself to simple regurgitation of basic facts about the line. Indeed, the line itself plays a relatively small part in the book. Instead Mabey concentrates on the impact that the development of the line had on the area that was to become known as Metroland: after all, Mabey has made a notable career out of writing and broadcasting about the symbiotic relationship between society and nature. He offers and informed, though never overwhelming, depiction of the changes that settlement brought, and an intriguing insight into the consequences of encroachment by residential and industrial estates into scrubland.

I first encountered the term "Metroland" when reading Julian Barnes's marvellous novel of that name, and was nave enough to imagine that he had coined the term. Then I discovered the television programme that Sir John Betjeman made under that title for the BBC back in the early 1970s (coming shortly after his appointment as Poet Laureate). However, the term predates even that, and was used by the railway company itself to conjure up an Elysian image that awaited would-be dwellers in the hinterlands that the line would open up for commuters who chose to move to the outer reaches of Middlesex and beyond.

Mabey describes his own boyhood in those suburban areas, and his forays into the unkempt lands just beyond the newly settled areas. Surprisingly, when revisiting them several decades later, there is much that remained unchanged, though one positive development is the resurgence in the area of the red kite, reintroduced into the area by the RSPB and now soundly re-established as a regular part of the local fauna.
I have never really used the metropolitan line much apart from the occasional jaunt to a concert at Wembley, but I now feel tempted to strike out to Amersham or Rickmansworth ("Ricky" as Metrolanders apparently call it) over the weekend.
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