I might as well be upfront aboutÂ it, that when I opened Margaret Hallidayâ€™s latest memoirÂ (on Kindle so the front cover wasnâ€™t immediately obvious) I was expecting a doggy tale.
However, WWOOFing, it appears, is not just for dogs, and in this instance, itâ€™s nothing at all to do with them beyond the random canines â€“ and other animals â€“ Halliday encountered whilst experiencing World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFing).
Once I had the correct definition established, I was intrigued by the premise. As an avid traveller who likes to experience life as it is for â€˜ordinary folkâ€™, the idea of touring beautiful parts of the world living and working on organic farms sounded idyllic. But as with any trip to any place, nothing is perfect and Halliday describes frustrations as well as the idyll.
The â€˜North and Southâ€™ of the title refers to New Zealand and Scotland, the countries that feature in Hallidayâ€™s extended trips. Itâ€™s most definitely a book of two halves split between these two countries and essentially itâ€™s Hallidayâ€™s diary revisited and edited. Told this way, it is on the lengthy side and slightly repetitive (great to dip into whilst travelling?) and there are also points where we get the start of a story or introduction of a character â€“ never to hear what happens next, but then, that is the nature of travel. However, it is also funny and tongue in cheek at times, and very readable.
The factual information included alongside Hallidayâ€™s personal experiences would be invaluable to anyone considering going the WWOOFing route. The locations (and the hosts) range from the infinitely welcoming to the quirky to the downright odd â€“ and she copes admirably!
At times, Halliday is challenged, and one of the strengths of the book is that she doesnâ€™t shy away from sharing that. She is upfront about her middle age her health and mobility issues, and being a lone woman traveller. Interestingly, none of these worry her unduly but they can and do affect the way she is, at times, treatedâ€¦
Overall though, Halliday writes with enthusiasm, with accuracy and is undoubtedly a worthy ambassador for WWOOFing North and South (and east and west).
Available as a paperback and eBook.Â https://www.amazon.co.uk/WWOOFing-North-South-Margaret-Halliday-ebook/dp/B01FUVJE46