I love a man with a sense of humour, especially when he doesn't mind poking fun at himself, and that is probably the main element that made me thoroughly enjoy reading this book.
Monty Hall describes himself variously as a "posh bloke", a Southerner, a Sassenach, a little boy out for an adventure and a hopeless DIYer, so he's probably not best suited to moving to the remotest corner of Scotland and taking on the ramshackle shell of an old cottage that needs totally renovating - all that's left are the outer walls, it hasn't even got a roof !! It's One Man and His Dog meets The Good Life meets The Wild Wild West (of Scotland !!) and the sense of adventure and well-earned self-satisfaction that Monty feels are palpable. With a lot of help from his new neighbours, Monty manages to live the traditional life of a crofter for 6 months, helping the "bothy" reemerge as a solid dwelling complete with vegetable garden and livestock. The description of the never-ending battle between man and the elements is exciting enough, but Monty also takes time out to introduce us to the spectacular scenery and wildlife of his unspoilt surroundings (complete with photos - his encounters with a magnificent stag on the beach and huge basking sharks are incredible), not to mention some of the more eccentric members of the local community !
The whole book is a great advertisement for Scotland - it certainly makes me want to go and discover the rugged beaches and remote heather-covered hillsides he describes - and I'm sure the accompanying TV series, which I haven't seen, only adds to this, showing the countryside and wildlife in all its glory. It's a real breath of fresh air.
Publisher: BBC Books; First Thus edition (5 Mar 2009)
Paperback: 288 pages
star rating : 5/5