Anyone who has enjoyed reading Roger Deakin’s books, especially Waterlog and Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, will love listening to these radio programmes that he recorded for the BBC. Produced by Sara Blunt, the 25 minute-long programmes capture Deakin’s unusual home and garden, and the man who lived there. The producer deliberately chose not to use an interviewer, instead allowing Deakin to draw you into his world with his own words.
The restored farmhouse has a timber frame – Deakin felt he was “living inside the skeleton of a whale” – and the sound of wood is omnipresent: timbers creaking and groaning in a gale, footseteps on a staircase, logs being split for firewood. You can also hear the rush of a summer downpour, a boisterous bumble bee, a purring cat, the echoing chatter of swallows in a chimney, all simple but evocative sounds of a house open to nature. Listen here
Some of the most vivid sections in Waterlog are when Roger Deakin comes home and swims in his moat – the stretch of water he knew best of all, after so many lengths swum.
After a dip in the moat, he takes us on a tour of the meadows around the house. We see everything in our mind’s eye guided by Deakin’s observations. We hear sounds throughout the seasons: the song of blackbirds on the first tangible day of spring, the tearing of tenacious dock plants being removed from the meadow (for the benefit of the cows), the scything of hay, and compacting of snow underfoot with rooks calling. You just have to close your eyes and you’re transported to the Suffolk countryside. Listen here