Ashley Mullenger had never planned to become a fisherman. It came by chance, when she was twenty, and hangs on a single statement: ‘Does anyone fancy going on a fishing trip?’
That trip - a morning’s mackerel fishing from Wells Next the Sea in Norfolk – would be the start of an obsession that would spiral into a love affair. One that, alongside skipper Nigel (the same skipper who took her and her mates out all those years back) would culminate in her transformation, by the time she reached her thirties, from a clean cut office worker to owning and working on their two commercial fishing boats, Fairlass and Saoirse.
The sea has captivated people ever since humans first set sail on it; its beauty, its potent force, the mysteries it holds. For a select few who make their living from it, like Ashley and Nigel, trying to understand it, to second guess its ever-changing moods, creates an addiction to salt water that keeps them coming back for more.
Ashley will document the reality of that life, from bringing those two boats home - from the Outer Hebrides and Northern Ireland respectively - to the day to day drama that is life for any fisherman, arguably the most dangerous of any peacetime profession. She’ll document the physicality and sheer doggedness required to work at sea, and the daily stuggles to make an honest living out of a job that relies entirely on the weather and the tides, plus a fisherman’s legendary faith in their intuition.
But this is also a love-letter to the people of our fishing industry, the colourful, weather-beaten, and idiosyncratic characters who have dedicated their lives to catching seafood, just as Ashley does today. It’s from them and their stories that Ash learned respect for their skill and courage, and began to understand how the actions of the past have shaped the fragile fishing industry we have today.
With the marine environment changing – both politically, and as a result of global warming - The Salt Life will lift the lid on what it’s like to be one of the country’s very few female fishermen, and also do justice to an iconic industry that, while it feeds and impacts almost all of us, remains one of our most mysterious and misunderstood.
Lynne Barrett-Lee was born in London and became a fulltime writer shortly after moving to Cardiff in 1994. She is the author of ten novels, including her acclaimed debut, Julia Gets a Life, and Barefoot in the Dark, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. Her novels have been translated into several languages and she has also contributed two titles (one ghostwritten for television presenter Fiona Phillips) to the UK’s Quick Reads Campaign, which provides easy-to-read books for adult emergent readers.
Most recently, Lynne has returned to h...
More about Lynne Barrett-Lee,
Ashley is commercial fisherman owning two boats that operate from Wells Next The Sea on the North Norfolk coast.
Ashley is a first generation fisherman who gave up the rat race of the nine to five in 2018 to peruse a career at sea. In the last 4 years Ashley has used the power of social media to provide a window into life at sea in the commercial fishing landscape.
Ashley advocates for breaking gender stereotypes, supporting the small scale fishing fleet while promoting British seafood and providing insight into how the fishing industry actually works.
Most recently Ashley has won ...
More about Ashley Mullenger