Trevayne - My Paradise

LifeBook Memoirs editor Steve Edwards shares his experience of working on one of his favorite projects.

The front cover of Trevayne – My Paradise

As a child, I listened to the stories that my family told about their camping holidays at Trevayne, a Pembrokeshire Coast farm, back in the ’50s and ’60s. This, I’m pleased to say, was long before I was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, but, as I listened to them remembering the fun they’d had there, on “the best beach in the world,” I always felt that I had missed out on something good. Their recollections always seemed so warm and fuzzy. It was, therefore, a happy if unexpected surprise when a project for Mr. Reed, the tenant farmer at Trevayne, landed – metaphorically speaking – on my desk.

Mr. Reed’s book would prove to be an entertaining romp through the many facets of his life, but there were issues to resolve before his story could take shape. Mr. Reed has kept a diary since 1956, recording everyday events and the goings-on of the wider world. He had at his fingertips the story of his life in minute detail, and he wanted to incorporate in his LifeBook Memoir as much of it as he could, but therein lay the rub: how to incorporate that volume and breadth of detail within his story. It’s not, after all, every LifeBook Memoir that defies its team to document a life without losing its narrative thread somewhere between the respective details of a silage clamp installation and the assassination of Robert Kennedy. After a few false starts, we devised a “Life Highlights” chapter organized by decade and by subcategories that suited Mr. Reed. It worked.

Issue resolved, we concentrated on writing Mr. Reed’s life story in the best way possible. And what a life story! From raising a family and managing a farm to breeding racehorses, after-dinner speaking, acting, hunting, charity fundraising, and waterskiing, Mr. Reed had, it seemed, done it all.  

His, however, was not just a life of fun and games; it was a life of relentless work and risk. Consequently, his book has more smashed elbows, broken legs and noses, unexpected blackboard-related injuries, missing fingertips, hedge-trimmer mishaps, accidental shootings, tumbling tractors, exploding batteries, unexploded bombs, flipped cars, bullock confrontations, surgeries, and near-death experiences than any I’ve worked on. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of tragedies.

It is, therefore, astonishing to learn at the book’s conclusion that its now 80-year-old author still has plans and ambitions. Neither age nor risk stop him. He needed crutches when he last climbed onto a stage to perform, but perform he did. He also harbors a dream to one day own a Grand National winner.

Every LifeBook Memoir is a unique experience for its editorial team, but this was one of my favorites. From milk churns, corn stooks, and “kale jungles” to the bovine break-outs, blizzards, runaway cars, and tent-invading sheep of the farm and campsite that he speaks of with such fondness, and which my own family so loved, Trevayne – My Paradise is a love letter to the land where the author has lived and worked, and a testament to a hard life well lived.

Written by Steve Edwards, LifeBook Memoirs editor 

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