Words With Vicky Allan and Anna Deacon…

For The Love of Trees

What are your connections to the Lothians?

Vicky: I’ve lived in Edinburgh since 1999, and my dad partly grew up on a farm somewhere near IKEA at Straiton Park. I’ve brought my kids up here and it feels like all of the Lothians is our back yard. One of the things I love is exploring the beaches, the woods and other wild places.

Anna: I’ve lived in Edinburgh for over 4 years, but have close family here going back generations, so it has always felt more like home than anywhere else.

Are you ‘gloomy-fog-over-the-castle’ or ‘summer-on-Princes Street-gardens’ types?

Anna: I definitely prefer Edinburgh when it is quiet and a bit more gloomy – but still, there’s something so vibrant about the place when the festival is on and the place is buzzing…

Vicky: Such a tough one! I do like a bit of an atmospheric wander in the mists – and was loving the trees in the fog on Leith Links the other day – but right now I wouldn’t say no to a lovely lounge in the sun on the grass by the bandstand.

Vicky Allan

How would you introduce us to your life and passions?

Vicky: I’ve been a writer of some sort all my working life – mostly journalism, though I have also written a novel. I’m passionate about writing and I love people’s stories – having people tell me their tales is at the heart of the three books I’ve had out over the past year (two of them with Anna Deacon): Taking The Plunge, For The Love Of Trees and Still Hot! 42 Brilliantly Honest Menopause Stories. Beyond that my big love is nature and the wild spaces. Wild swimming; the forest – being immersed in nature. This is now tangled up with a whole load of anxiety about the climate and biodiversity crises, and the desire to do writing that is part of the solution to the problem. It’s a small contribution, but I believe fostering connection with nature helps us fight for it, and I hope For The Love Of Trees, will do that.

Anna: I have worked as a commercial photographer for many years, and particularly love photographing nature and people. My passion for wild swimming led me to start a photo study of swimmers and investigate why they do it, which in turn led me to being introduced to Vicky and our first book together Taking The Plunge. We then went on to collaborate on a second book this year For The Love Of Trees.

What are your greatest achievements so far – personally or professionally?

Anna: I’m particularly proud of Taking The Plunge as I never would have imagined that project becoming a book. We were interviewed live in the Radio 2 studio by Jo Whiley about it which was terrifying, but also such a wonderful opportunity. I’m also proud of our enormous International Women’s Day swim event last year which raised thousands of money for Edinburgh Womens Aid and other charities across the UK.

Vicky: Doing three books in just a year – particularly researching For The Love Of Trees during the pandemic – feels like quite an achievement. But then I’m very much a creature of the moment, so if you ask me for my best ever swim, I’ll say that one I did last week, or my favourite tree, I’ll say the yew I visited a fortnight ago… I’m not very good at cherishing the more distant past.

Anna Deacon

And when you’re not working?

Vicky: In the sea. Under a tree. Running along the beach. Shovelling compost at the community garden. Playing cards with my kids. Walking and talking.

Anna: And I’m usually found swimming in cold bodies of water, wandering around forests with my camera, chasing my dog around parks and baking with my children.

For the Love of Trees combines amazing photographic portraits of people and trees with powerful personal testimonies, it tells stories of unique relationships with favourite trees.

Black & White Publishing, October 2020.

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