Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills
By Neil Ansell. Kindle Edition, Penguin, 2011, 207 pp.
When he was thirty, Neil Ansell undertook an extreme adventure. He moved into an old Victorian gamekeeper's cottage, situated in one of the least populated regions in Britain. Without electricity, gas, running water, or plumbing, Penlan Cottage—uninhabited for decades—had only some basic furnishings, and Ansell brought nothing with him beyond some clothes. "I wanted to know how lightly I could tread on the earth," he writes.
Ansell remained for five years, and Deep Country is the story of those years, a sojourn during which he experienced droughts, torrential rains, being snowed in, both mild and serious illness, and intense isolation. At one point, when he hiked to the village shop, he found that when he spoke to the shopkeeper, his voice cracked, and he realized that he hadn't spoken a word to anyone in at least two weeks. But this isolation was part of the challenge: He wanted to find out "who I was when I could no longer define myself in terms of my relation to others."
For most of the book, we accompany Ansell on his daily rounds and he is such a good storyteller that I found myself engrossed in the details of his life— Read More