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Accompaniment to the television series,
This review is from: Coast: A Celebration of Britain's Coastal Heritage (Paperback)It has to be said that this book is a little bit of a disappointment compared to the joys of the television series. The series (hopefully due out on DVD) offers an epic journey round the British coastline - it's been done before, but not as well. The television series was absolutely first class. The book?
Well, it is beautifully illustrated, although you do feel that it would have benefited from being physically bigger, from having a chance to display its images on a grander scale. But it does seem to offer loads of photographs with only limited text to support them. Having seen the television programmes, maybe you want something more substantial, something to flesh out the geology, geography, and history of each of the myriad landscapes and seascapes the camera visits.
Perhaps that's the problem. Given the shape of the British Isles, there are few of us who have not had some intimate contact with the sea - if not brought up on the coastline, few live more than 30 miles from it, and virtually everyone will have a beach or stretch of shore they knew as a child or visited regularly at some point.
Most of us have some sort of intimacy with the sea and the coastline - watching the television, I could rejoice in revisiting places I have lived (London, Liverpool and Cardiff), but I most wanted to see the Solway Firth of my childhood and youth. There's an element of excitement in following the TV programmes, looking forward to the night when the cameras with get to your special stretch of coast. That element of anticipation isn't present in the book. You can just turn to the right page.
And the page doesn't seem very substantial. It's well written and informative. It is an excellent stimulus, an excuse to get out there, to go fossil hunting, to start studying geology, to take an interest in local history, to watch the wildlife, to worry about pollution, to decide you want to paint or photograph. That's the problem! The coast is such a potent stimulus, has so many facets, has so much magnetism, once your enthusiasm has been fired, a whole shelf full of encyclopaedias won't satisfy your curiosity or thirst for knowledge.
The television programme is a first class stimulus to action. The book is interesting, informative, and a useful little reference volume to have to hand - nice pictures, convenient text, some useful addresses and contacts at the back. But, of preference, you'd buy the DVD first ... and hopefully get yourself back down to the shoreline with a fresh perspective and renewed interest.