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on 3 July 2014
Back in 1986 there was no internet and the few mobile phones that were available were far too heavy to carry in a rambler's kit. In any case, network coverage was virtually non-existent outside the capital. For anyone to take on a lone walk around the coast of mainland Britain was a courageous – some would and many did say foolhardy – undertaking. Krasner was in her mid-thirties. Her contemporaries were busy raising families or attempting to climb the greasy pole of a professional career. She is also small in stature so the sight of her under a back pack almost as big as her drew a great deal of comment from people she met along the way.

Midges, Maps and Muesli is her account of the journey which began in March 1986 and ended in January 1987. It tells of the places she visited and people she met, all described in a natural style that cannot fail to win over the reader. Whether describing the experience of being lost in fog within yards of a cliff edge or presenting the pros and cons of nuclear energy following a visit to Sellafield her prose never fails to engage the reader's sympathy.

Krasner wrote this book shortly after completing the journey at the beginning of 1987. When a proposed publishing deal fell through she put the manuscript away and got on with the rest of her life. Years later she decided to self-publish the account for friends. A career change as she approached her fifties saw her achieve success as a helicopter pilot trainer and aviation writer. This brought a new audience for Midges, Maps and Muesli and she soon had almost no copies left.

The world of independent publishing had been transformed with the arrival of e-books so formatting Midges, Maps and Muesli for Kindle was an obvious move. Kindle owners will be pleased that Krasner did so for it is a truly delightful read. I am now looking forward to her next book, Travels on Seven Continents.
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on 26 March 2017
Holds your interest from the first page
What an achievement.
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on 14 March 2002
I have read Helen Krasner's book twice and I'm sure I shall read it again. Yet it isn't entirely easy to describe what makes it so well worth reading. Although Helen claims to be an ordinary person, doing something which to her, while she was doing it, became quite an ordinary thing to do, her way of being ordinary is so extraordinary that it makes her book, and her walk, something very different and special.
Why did she walk round the island of Britain? One doesn't really know, at the end. But what is certain is that she got a great deal out of it, and much of what she got out of it , she has been able to pass on to the reader. Above all this is a book about people; the innumerable people she met in the course of her journey; most of them kind and hospitable, a few impressive, one or two more or less mad. And about places - two of the most interesting to Helen, and to us, are the beautiful North West coast of Scotland - she makes one determined to go there - and Sellafield nuclear power station. The power station not so much for itself, as for the effect it has on the people who live and work in the area, none of whom appear able to consider it objectively. If only this book could have been well illustrated with good photographs, it could have been very successful indeed. As it is, it's there, you can buy it, and after all, the text is the important thing. Helen Krasner is not just a long-distance walker - she is also the author of a fascinating book.
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on 19 August 2012
Written in an engaging style, this account of a one woman hike around the coast of Britain could be enjoyed anywhere. For me, the best place to read it was my cosy bed. Propped up against a pile of soft pillows, I marvelled at Helen Krasner's willingness to shoulder a backpack in order to pit herself against loneliness, strange terrain and the vagaries of the British climate. Early on in the book, she admits that her original vision had not allowed for `rain, blisters, unfriendly people and getting lost in the fog'. All of these Helen does suffer, but she also revels in magnificent scenery, the generosity of strangers and the satisfaction of a hard won goal.

From the comfort of my bed, I have enjoyed following Helen every step of the way from Brighton and back by way of Lizard Point, Morecambe Bay, Tobermory and Great Yarmouth, to name but four of her many stopping off points. As informative as a guidebook and entertaining as a novel, this is a book to please walkers and lazybones alike.
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on 3 February 2008
When I first read this book I enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought five more for friends who, I was sure, would enjoy it too. I was right, but each of them seemed to enjoy it in a different way. One, for instance, took several weeks to read it because she found it relaxing to read a few pages in bed before turning the light out. Another commented on the quality of the writing - for some reason, she seemed to think that someone who could walk around the coast of Great Britain couldn't possibly have a good writing style! Another said that she found it inspiring, and it made her want to do something similar - but she wouldn't fancy camping and sleeping in barns.

I enjoyed the matter-of-fact way in which the author apparently dealt with all the odd things and people that she encountered along the way. She might be small - she mentions that people found it hard to believe that somebody her size could walk so far with an enormous rucksack - but she was completely indomitable! Nothing seemed to put her off.

And I think that the thing I liked most about it was the fact that she was not, and is not trying to impress anybody with her amazing achievement: that much is clear from the way it is written. She just decided that she would like to walk around the coast of her native island, and went ahead and did it - not to get into the record books, not even to raise money for good causes, but simply because that's what she wanted to do.

If this book doesn't inspire you to think that perhaps you should just get up and do that mad thing you've always dreamt of doing, then I'm afraid you'll never do it. But read the book anyway - it's jolly good entertainment.
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on 17 August 2014
A very readable account of a very unusual adventure. Parts of it reminded me of epic travels (e.g. coming across other round Britain walkers, I quite expected them to have left messages or signs for each other, reminded of Amundsen and Scott). That's possibly an inappropriate analogy, since this trip was so obviously a 'this is something I want to do' rather than a 'I must do his to beat a record' adventure. Nevertheless an adventure, and so interesting to vicariously share in. I remember hearing about this walk back in 1986 but didn't get to read the book until recently. I would have liked to hear more about the (mundane) aspects of other places visited which I know about, if only as a record of how places change over the years, and which would today still be unaltered. An good read, an easy read, but for once written in an intelligent style.
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on 27 August 2015
At the outset, she manouvred a send off from radio and media teams at Brighton, though shrugging off the publicity at the end of her walk around Britain, though not sure about the point. She seemed determined and very opinionated, especially when encountering someone who didn't add up to her brand of correctness. She insisted on giving as good as she got, though did not tread lightly at times. However, her favourite word, it was an interesting account of Britain's coasline.
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on 25 August 2009
Having read quite a few of this sort of book I thought it might be just like the others. However, as it says on the cover this is quite simply 'an account of a walk'
It's a simple account - it doesn't feel over-edited.
I could simply say that I agree with the other reviews - they persuaded me to buy the book and having re-read them now they are spot-on.
Improvements? I would ask Helen to write about all the places she just glossed over - although I daresay she would tell us that she's written all the interesting bits already.
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on 5 April 2015
A very enjoyable read. To have the guts,stamina and self belief to even think about attempting this epic walk makes you realise that she is someone who would never consider failure,no matter the hurdles or scale of the task ahead . The anecdotes from along the journey, especially the diversity of the people encountered along with they're local customs and rituals makes for a very enthralling journey as you accompany Helen on her " fun walk"
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on 23 February 1999
This book makes a refreshing change from all those well planned, well researched travel books that are ultimately boring. This is how it would be for the likes of you and me. A very readable and interesting account that's often quite funny, for this is a walk for fun, not to beat a record, or raise money for charity. Helen's encounters are always worth reading, especially those with other coastal walkers, like the one who tells her what "a bitch" the Mull of Kintyre had proved, but is nonetheless horrified that she decides she'll skip it then! Not in the class of Bill Bryson, obviously, but still fun.
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