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'Into the Secret Heart of Ashdown Forest: A Horseman's Country Diary' by Julian Roup

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Into the Secret Heart of Ashdown Forest is a love letter after a forty-year affair. Wry, funny, moving and vivid, this memoir chronicles the life of the author and the ten square miles of country he calls his Kingdom. This book is as good as a brisk walk in the woods on an autumn day.

Written with love and passion, it is a hymn to landscape and freedom. It is a close and deep observation of the writer’s adopted country, the fabled Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England, (the home of Winnie the Pooh), where he has lived and ridden for the past forty years.

His gift is the ability to take you deep into the landscapes that make this place resonate in his heart: its streams, woods, heathlands. You meet its literary residents, A.A, Milne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats. You get beneath its skin among the networks of fungi that allow the trees to speak. You taste its foods, meet its locals, both the living and the ghosts, and see its huge importance during the plague year 2020-21 through the pandemic lockdowns.

His passion for horses shines through these pages and his writing is, as he himself says, a form of ‘moving meditation’. He takes you under the soil of this place and he leaves a soft glow on the landscape when he is gone.

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About the author

Julian Roup is the author of three non-fiction books: a children’s book, A Day In the Life of an MP; A Fisherman in the Saddle, a memoir of growing up in South Africa; and Boerejood, which explores the miracle of peaceful change to democratic rule in South Africa in 1994.

Boerejood received critical praise from many, including the Financial Times in the UK, which described it as: “Brilliant, engaged, intelligent, personal….and funny”. The FT ran a 2,000-word feature on the book as its Weekend Magazine cover story in May 2006.

Julian Roup has a background which combines marketing, journalism and public relations.

Born in South Africa in 1950, he lived in Cape Town for the first 30 years of his life. He has a journalism degree from Rhodes University in South Africa, and worked at the Cape Times and the Cape Argus before emigrating to England in 1980, where he started off writing for the Mid Sussex Times.

He founded his own PR consultancy, Bendigo Communications, in 1993. Clients have included: Virgin Atlantic, Bonhams, Bradford & Bingley, and the Development Agency for the Western Cape in South Africa. He has also created PR campaigns for clients including the British Army, Black Horse Agencies, Christie's, the Government of Malta, the London Underground, British Rail InterCity, NSPCC, and the RSPCA.

He worked as Director of Press and Marketing for Bonhams, the international fine art auction company, for 12 years.

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