Or to give it its full title, Sea Change – the Summer Voyage from East to West Scotland of the Anassa.
I first came across Mairi Hedderwick as the author and illustrator of the delightful children’s series of Katie Morag, so I was really pleased to discover a few years ago that she also writes illustrated travelogues of Scotland, where I often holiday with my Scottish husband.
I bought this book in Oban, one of the places mentioned in the book, and it provided perfect holiday reading as we pottered about the Highlands (on land), though we have also sailed off the west coast so were familiar with the territory.
While it will have extra resonance for those who know the area, it will also captivate anyone unfamiliar with what is meant to be Britain’s last wilderness, or who is interested in the Caledonian Canal.
Historical and Political Context
As well as describing her journey, she touches on the region’s history and politics, and although she wrote this book in 1999, her observations are still relevant and topical in 2016 after the last couple of turbulent years in Scottish and British politics.
Adding another layer of interest to the narrative is that it represented a moment of huge personal significance for the author, as it was marking a time between living on islands and returning to the mainland. Her reflections on property ownership and on the difference between living in houses and in boats were very interesting. The final section, in which she and the Captain rescue two young girls is also very thought-provoking.
The Artist’s Eye in Prose Form
Her artist’s eye shapes her colourful prose, which is accompanied by watercolours and pen and ink sketches of key points on the route in her distinctive and much-loved style, perfect for the delivery of this beautiful land-and-seascape.
As far as I can see, Mairi Hedderwick doesn’t have a website, but her appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs should be well worth listening to and is available as a podcast here.