A man who grew up in Grantham has published a book containing fond memories of the town, time spent in the country and tales from his own family history.
Neil Sentance, who now lives with his family in Dorset, has been writing articles for a website called Caught By The River, an online forum for artists of all kinds.
And now a series of these articles has appeared in a book called Water and Sky: Voices From The Riverside.
Neil, pictured with a copy of the book, grew up near the Witham in Grantham, but his grandparents owned a farm in Foston and Neil spent many an idyllic summer playing in the area as a youngster.
In the book Neil explores his family history and the landscape in which they lived. Neil, who used to live in St Vincent’s Road and was a pupil at King’s School, said he his delighted with the book and feels very “humbled” that his writings have been published.
Neil said: “I grew up in the town until the age of 12 and then we moved to Old Somerby. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ farm in Foston. The Witham was a fixture that ran through my childhood.”
Neil works in publishing, although his full-time job is on the academic side of the business. He said: “I have always dabbled in writing and I think when you reach your mid forties you become more interested in family and family history. I became interested in merging the landscape with my family history. I realised my family was rooted in a particular place – south west Lincolnshire – where the name Sentance is particular that that area and I wanted to explore my family history and that landscape and see how they reacted.”
Neil is married to Kate and they have a seven-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. Neil has lived and worked in London and other cities but says the family “gravitated” to a more rural part of the world in Bridport, Dorset, while the children were young.
Neil added: “The countryside is very important to me. The book is thematically organised but I have used the River Witham as a central point and then wrote about my family through the last 100 years.”
The book is a collection of memories, some of them from Neil’s holidays in the 1970s and 80s as well as a depiction of the people who lived and farmed in the area.
The book also includes photographs of family members, dating back to the early 20th century. Neil describes it as “part reflection, recollection and part reimagination”.
He says those remiscences of childhood are “ingrained” in his memory, but he has also had help from family members including his grandmother who is in her 90th year, who has been a great source of material. The book has received a great deal of praise, not least from travel writer Robert MacFarlane, who wrote The Wild Places. MacFarlane said of Neil’s book: “It is wonderful to read such experiment of voice, tone and vision.”
Voices from the Riverside is available to buy for £12. Go to caughtbytheriver.net and click on the Water and Sky tab.