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Where the Wild Winds Are: Walking Europe's Winds from the Pennines to Provence Hardcover – 7 Sep 2017
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SHORTLISTED FOR THE STANFORD DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDA Financial Times Book of the YearA Spectator Book of the YearA Daily Telegraph Book of the Year'Travel writing in excelsis' -Jan Morris, author of Venice'A thrilling and gorgeous tale, packed with meteorological wonder' -Amy Liptrot, author of The OutrunNick Hunt sets off on an unlikely quest: to follow four of Europe's winds across the continent...His wind-walks begin on Cross Fell, the highest point of the Pennines, as he chases the roaring Helm - the only named wind in Britain. In southern Europe he follows the Bora - a bitter northerly that blows from Trieste through Slovenia and down the Croatian coast. His hunt for the 'snow-eating' Foehn becomes a meandering journey of exhilaration and despair through the Alpine valleys of Switzerland, and his final walk traces an ancient pilgrims' path in the south of France on the trail of the Mistral - the 'wind of madness' which animated and tormented Vincent Van Gogh.These are journeys into wild wind, but also into wild landscapes and the people who inhabit them - a cast of meteorologists, storm chasers, mountain men, eccentric wind enthusiasts, sailors and shepherds., Soon Nick finds himself borne along by the very forces he is pursuing, through rain, blizzards, howling gales, and back through time itself. For, where the wild winds are, there are also myths and legends, history and hearsay, science and superstition - and occasionally remote mountain cabins packed with pickles, cured meats and homemade alcohol.Where the Wild Winds Are is a beautiful, unconventional travelogue that makes the invisible visible.
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As he progresses on his walk he describes the effects and influences of his chosen four European winds. Each has a history and is full of myths and superstitions. The book could have been entitled The Kingdom of the Winds. Hunt is the first travel writer to explore these winds.
The first wind is Helm. It blows across a corner of NW England. It has a dreadful reputation. The second wind is the Bora. It storms around the Adriatic.The third one is Foehn.This is a warm wind and Hunt begins his walk through it in Zurich in March. The fourth wind is the very famous Mistral.
A theme connects these winds. It is madness and the belief that it is associated with these winds. Van Gogh, for example, said the Mistral was wicked. Some winds are linked to a place. The Bora is linked to Trieste.There is a Bora Museum in the city. It has 150 different winds in bottles. They come from all over the globe. Hunt describes how artists pay homage to the Bora. Streets are named after it in the city.
He says rhat his journey has washed, scoured ,pummelled and uplifted jhim. You will feel the same after reading this entertaining book
From the moment the great storm of 1987 almost blew six-year-old Nick Hunt away, he has had the urge to travel. So many travel books are on the market, it is difficult to produce something new and exciting, but after coming across an interesting map of Europe, Hunt was determined to go on a journey that not many have attempted before. With a map listing the named winds of Europe, Hunt sets off on a quixotic quest to follow the winds.
Beginning in the Pennine Mountains, Nick Hunt takes the reader on a personal journey through the continent as he explores the towns and valleys the winds flow through whilst hoping the elusive tempests will occur so that he can experience them himself. With a mix of euphoria and disappointment, Hunt details his arduous journey providing additional knowledge along the way.
Some winds are more evanescent than others – one, discouragingly, not appearing at all – whereas one is so strong, Hunt witnesses a waterfall being blown upwards. Ignoring the warnings of the locals, Hunt, dead set on completing what he intended to do, takes us on a long walk from Italy to Croatia, a trek through the Alpine valleys of Switzerland, and a final expedition to the south of France.
Wind may seem like an odd topic to write a book about, but the Helm, Bora, Foehn and Mistral are no ordinary breezes. Their violence makes Hunt’s journey a dangerous and daring endeavour and is full of stories about past disasters that have occurred as a result of the strong, temperamental weather.
As well as teaching us about these four winds, Nick Hunt has collected facts and stories about the general areas he passes through. Personal stories of the inhabitants break up Hunt’s narrative, however, myths, legends, history and superstitions frequent the lengthy chapters as much as the winds themselves.
Giving wind a name provides it with a personality, as though it is something tangible that can be met and observed. Nick Hunt notes that artists such as Turner and Constable were interested in the weather and fascinated by the effects the wind had on the surrounding landscape. Another artist that was affected by the weather was Vincent Van Gogh - some of his paintings took place in France in the midst of the powerful Mistral. Just as the wind can be seen in his starry night skies, the scenery in France is evocative of a Van Gogh painting.
The winds do not only affect the lands they blow through, they have a strong impact on the wellbeing of the inhabitants. Some experience physical symptoms such as headaches, nose bleeds, dry skin and so forth, whereas others find themselves growing irritable, depressed and confused. The author himself has the opportunity to undergo the effects of these winds. Hunt also puts forward the suggestion that Van Gogh’s deteriorating mental health was a direct consequence of residing in the path of the Mistral.
From witchcraft to the Greek god Aeolus, there are a number of theories about why these strong winds blow. There are, of course, meteorological explanations, which Hunt attempts to explain, but admits he finds it as baffling as the next person. Regardless of the reason, these winds exist and it is captivating to learn about this aspect of Europe.
Where the Wild Winds Are: Walking Europe’s Winds from the Pennines to Provence is a fantastic, beautifully written book. Nick Hunt’s narrative is so personal that it becomes more than a travel documentation or informative non-fiction. As we read, we really get a sense of the emotions and physical hardship Hunt experienced, yet, at the same time, learn so much about European culture as well as, of course, Europe’s winds. Whether or not you are interested in travelling, this book will take you on a journey you will never forget.