What we leave behind by Stanislaw Łubieński

What we leave behind by Stanislaw Łubieński

Polish Nature Writing

Original tile – Książka o śmieciach

Translator – Zosia Krasodomska-Jones

Source – review copy

As many of you know the last twelve months I have featured a lot more nature writing on the blog so when I was sent a book in translation. that was a nature book it was great to combine to the two genres I really love books in translation and Nature writing. Stanislaw has written a number of books. He contributes regularly to paper in Polish papers and magazines this is his first book to be translated into English. He won the NIKE reader prize for one of his earlier books. The birds they sing. It says on his bio he grew up watching birds with his Soviet binoculars (reminds me of the early days I used bird watch a lot with my grandad’s old military binoculars).

Let’s start with a clarification to avoid any misunderstandings: hunting ducks has no practical justification – it’s purely for sport. A display of dexterity, like shooting live clay pigeons.

But what have the ducks done to deserve to die? Pond owners sometimes complain that they eat fish food. They certainly do. According to studies from the 1980s, they eat between 2 and 7,5 per cent of distributed feed. That’s not very much.

Scientists say that the presence of many bird species at ponds brings advantages that outweigh the drawbacks. Ducks, coots, grebes and even herons prevent the surface water from becoming overgrown, they eat the larvae of predacious insects that feed on spawn and fry, and they clear sick or dead fish from the surfaces Why do we kill ducks, then? Simple: it’s tradition.

The question about the value of Duck hunting is there any these Days !!

The book has the subtle A birdwatcher’s dispatches from the taste catastrophe. The book is formed of eight chapters a number of which take waste he had found. As you know I love correlations to my own life as a reader the journey isn’t just that of escape but sometimes reminds inklings of one’s own world and experiences. The first chapter had a collection of shotgun cartridges just left in the woods he speaks about the growing anti-hunting movements around Europe the ducks in the pond. reminded me of seeing shells often in the area I walked around Northumberland when I lived there many years ago with my dog. What Stanislaw does is mix the waste we see and the world he observes it just shows you how near we are to losing it all at times. The third chapter mentioned Gannets which as I had this some been to North Berwick home to one of the biggest Gannet colonies. He talks about the discovery of huge bands of waste drifting in the oceans discovered by sailors I remember how a container of Rubber ducks scattered in the sea. It had shown how far rubbish lost in the oceans can drift. But the worrying thing he talks about is microplastics are now getting into our food chain and the effects of that are relatively unknown long term. A book that sets you thinking and being watchful about your own impact on the world around you.

It’s more than twenty years since the sailor Charles J. Moore discovered a huge rubbish dump floating in the ocean between Hawaii and California. A mass of plastic packaging, bottles, lids and countless tons of unidentified waste. The area was named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and its growth has been monitored apprehensively ever since. New debris accumulates rapidly, carried there on the North Equatorial Current.

The huge rubbish dump was found drifting in the oceans.

It is fair to say I loved this it was inspiring and also an insightful book and also sounds a warning shot of how waste is everywhere even in some of the most remote places he visits he is shocked to see waste there. But each piece of waste in itself is a story of where it came from. Then how it could have ended up there. Even how discarded waste at times has changed nature itself over time. The concept of the book is very entertaining and also hits topping home it combines nature but also the great environmental questions facing the world. Do you have a favourite nature book that combines the natural world but also alongside the current environmental situation? It shows you how much we have to go to sustainable resources and move away from Plastic which is happening but it needs to quicken. As one of the first books to match my two reading styles books in translation and Nature writing this was a great book and shows we should try and get more nature writing from around the world. I will be trying to get some more books from around the world. That deal with nature when I see them around.

Winstons score – A this is an insightful book into the current situation of plastic waste and its effect the natural world.

 

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The Instant by Amy Liptrot

The Instant by Amy Liptrot

Nature memoir

Source – Library

I am back to the Wainwright longlist and this is a book from a writer that had won the Wainwright prize a number of years ago for her book The Outrun (which I wish I had read first as this book follows on from that book) her first book The outrun covered the time she had to get out of London and the drink and drugs world she was living in and return to her native Orkney back to the sheep farm where she had grown up on as she tries to rebuild her life. This book follows on after that time and feeling better and drink free she leaves the UK to head to Germany, to live in Berlin for a year.

The internet is hectic and I go to the moon to relax, opening a new browser tabs for the moon’s wikipedia page and google maps of its surface. I follow new lunar developments from NASA. I learn that the moon was probably once part of the earth, sheared off by an asteroid. B who moved from Scotland to Tasmania, tells me that there is a different moon in the southern hemisphere: it waxes and wanes in the opposite direction. I learn that the moon is slowing down the earth’s rotation. The moon is holding on to us.

I grew more aware of the moon and, in particular, its effect on the tides when I was back home on the island. Low tide at the new moon is the time to dig for shellfish called spots on the beach, and after a full moon is the time to go looking for things washed up – ike driftwood and treasure – at the high-water line.

The moon is the way we follow the year as each chapter is called after the name of the full moon for that time of year.

This is a woman breaking free after a rough time and starting fresh in a big city and Berlin. As she wants to be inspired, find something she is missing (love or sex hard to tell or both !) alongside this it is clear she has grown in the country as some tat has partly spent time in my youth in the countryside you learn to see so much more about the world around us the changing seasons. as she starts to settle into life in Berlin in as she mentions what the Germans call a wandering year, she has the ability to be a digital nomad to live in Berlin and talk about seeing birds of prey trying top see a racoon ( this reminded me of a German novel I read about a lone wolf wandering through ice-cold Berlin. But there is a sense of being alone in a crown at times is Berlin just another Orkney? routines fill her day. Then she meets and falls for a man they camp with and grow close to him. But then there is a sudden change of heart on his part which sees her go back to her phone to the lunar cycle. we see Amy try and grow and live in a new city in a new country.

The racoons have become a symbol of this area of Plucky, scrappy Kreuzberg. The big  1 May party in the courtyard of our apartment block has racoon hand stamps. The racoons are known for resilience and adaptability that I hope to emulate.

I still don’t know if it was a racoon I heard from my bed that night but I know they are out there on the rooftops, moving silently and unknown above the reptiles and graffiti. I know we make rubbish to feed colonies, to build another city from, to shelter a species.

Racoon is a recurring theme in the book.

This was a surprise for me as I hadn’t read a book by Amy before I was aware of her just from seeing her earlier book in the bookshop. I like memoirs and I connected with Amy and her year in Germany as I had in my early 20s spent in Germany I lived for two years near the dutch border with a German girl. I connected with how it feels to be alone in a crowd but also that love and zest for life you can get in Germany a country where arts and being artsy or even in love with nature isn’t strange. I loved the way she used the moon’s cycle to navigate that year of lows and highs she also showed how love can be so passionate like a firework at times fly high than a bang. This was her rocket ride and it didn’t get a moon landing the voyage was good but it had to come back to earth. alongside this is a country girl’s eye to the world around her the birds the creatures she hears about like the racoons I never saw a racoon myself but saw so much over my years there that I couldn’t see here. Have you a favourite Memoir of nature?

Winston’s score – +B a solid memoir of a year in Germany brought back memories of my own youth which is always fun.

 

12 Birds to save your life by Charlie Corbett

 

12 Birds to save your life by Charlie Corbett

British Nature writing

Source – Library book

I take another step along the path of the Wainwright longlist books. It is strange I picked a book last month of my Trio of books that I had enjoyed was a memoir about grief this is another book around Grief. Charlie Corbett is a writer and a farmer that has spent his time between the Wessex Downs and Isle of Mull( you couldn’t get two places further apart in the Uk.he lives with his wife on the downs with his sons and a field full of skylarks which is one of the 12 birds of the book where he uses his love of birds and mixes into a memoir of Birds and the death and how his family coped when their Mother died and how birds have been viewed through time and he mixes them up this is his life in a hard time.

Peewits (otherwise known as lapwings or green plovers) are, in fact, a bird of the coast – a wader – but they breed up on hills during the spring and summer. And if you scan the sky in February, you might see great flocks of peewits circling up above looking for suitable places to nest. I almost drove off the side of the motorway when I saw such a sight not that long ago (once you develop a love for birds, almost crashing cars will become a common occurrence, I’m afraid)

I used to see these on a drive between towns growing up a bird we see a lot less of these days.

The book uses twelve birds native to the UK, which are common bar two of them which are harder to see the sections combine Charlie’s family life at what is one of the hardest times in people’s lives and that is the loss of a parent the effect on the wider family and how the sight of the birds and connections about myths and legends around the birds and how they have seen them over time. He also has a comic touch to describe some birds and their wider family-like calling a Jackdaw like the Danny deviate of the crow world. Then at the end of each section a guide to how to see each bird and how common they are and also it highlights how some birds over time have drastically declined those so common and still common mare getting less so like the little sparrow. It shows how we have to feed and make sure our gardens make birds welcome.

And if Danny DeVito had an extrovert cousin who liked to dress in Paris clothes, then that would be the Jay. The Jay is another characterful member of the Corvid clan. Though instead of the usual sombre black ensemble, the Jay sports a pink suit, bright white shirt with dazzling electric blue wingtips and a snappy black moustache under the beak. You’ll certainly hear a jay before you see one(its Latin name is Garrulous Glandarius). If you are walking through woodland, your ears will be assaulted by a shattering shriek, just as you remark to your walking companion, ” What the hell was that bloody awful noise?”, you’ll see this pinky-blue-white blur fly past with a kind of lazy undulation lollo. Yet despite its shouty call and garish costumes, the jay is, in fact, really rather a shy creature.It lives in woodland and really ventures out.

I loved this description of a jay in the section about Magpies.

I loved this as many of you know I love books that connect objects to things to memories it has always been something that has driven me as a reward this was one of the books that really jumped out at me of the Wainwright longlist. especially as I have always had a love of birds but also the myths and legends around birds which is something I have always loved. I often look for a robin when a bird is meant to be the soul visiting you at my mum’s grave site. They are one of the birds Charlie talks about. Then he talks about Kingfisher a bird I had on my wall as a kid one of the birds I love to see as you only ever see a brilliant blue flash as they so often disappear so quickly. He also has anBarn Owl which made me think of My work Owl there is a Tawny owl I have seen a few times it sites of a post at the back of work and I see it there and think I have seen a couple of things it has killed on the gardens at work. I think it is great as the first time I saw it a patient showed it me it made their day, especially showing me. Have you a favourite book that deals with Grief and its effect on a family?

Winstons score – B solid book around birds and grief and how they enter our lives their but sometimes we notice them more.

Goshawk Summer by James Aldred

Goshawk Summer by James Alfred

English Nature writing

Source – Personal copy

I decide to have this break and read some Nature writing which happened to be exactly the same time as we got the Wainwright Nature writing longlist for 2022. So I then decided to get all the books which I was so lucky to have found most of them on the Library system so Had to order to collect most of them as they are coming from all over Derbyshire. I am going today ( well actually yesterday !! as I wrote this yesterday) to pick up the first lot of books. But the two books I couldn’t get I ordered and they arrived before the weekend so I managed to squeeze in this book over the weekend James Aldred is an Award-winning wildlife documentary maker. He had just finished one project in Africa when he was hired to film some Goshawks in the New forest this is around the time of the first lockdowns in the Uk and he is able to go to the forest every day and to film the Goshawks during a summer that is like no other that has been for many a year and maybe won’t happen again. SO we see his observations of the forest and Goshawks.

Friday 10 April

The country’s been in lockdown for two weeks. I take our three boys into the empty landscape of the valley opposite for some decompression. They’ve been bouncing off the walls at home and it’s good to feel the stride of open ground. They bring their bows and shoot arrows high into the sky above the wide rhyme-locked levels. It’s a good way to let off steam for an hour or so. crossing one of the many small bridges. I glance down to see the five-toed pads of a dog otter imprinted in the soft mud.

I loved as he takes the kids out which many parents did he still sees the nature around him.

He has just returned to the Uk as we see Lockdown is happening and has just been given the job to sit in a Hide to film over the summer. In the New forest. We see as he travels back and forth to film in a world that is now quiet and how strange it is with nothing around that is usually the traffic on the roads, Planes in the sky all have vanished overnight and a new world of silence and quiet. As he settles deep in the forest in his Hide says how much he likes being in a hide hidden and watching whatever he is there to film. He grew up in the New Forest and is amazed when he sees the car parks fill as everyone went back into nature as he heads into the hide and watches this Family of Goshawks sit on the Eggs and then as the chick grows(there is an insight into how they choose which chick lives) we see the environment the bio system of the world of the Goshawks the world of the forest the squirrels which is the main diet of the Goshawks, other birds he sees he compares the other Raptures and places The Goshawks alongside them and how it all interconnects. All this is against the backdrop of the Pandemic and lockdown. I hope to capture the film he made of this Goshawk pair and the New forest in this time which is a time we may never see again.

Friday 8 may

A dry start. The forest leaves hang with mist, but the sky is clear and the 4 a.m. journey to goshawks is sublime. The full moon hangs huge and heavy above dark spires of conifer- a Spielberg backdrop in need of a flying silhouette. The road through Whitemoor glade is a bright bridge of silver and I turn of my lights to follow, rolling slowly forward as the trees eventually rise up to swallow the moon. As I re-enter the darkness a tawny owl is perched on a sign next to the road. It ignores me and remains poised with head tilted forward, listening to something in the leaf litter. I switch off the engine in their hope of watching it hunt, but it seems to notice me for the first time and flies off into the shadows.

his early morning walk to the hide deep in the woods.

I do wonder if in years to come we will get a series of books that will be described as Covoid lit or lockdown Lit. This time saw the best and worst of people but also as we see in James’s eyes it gave nature a small window away from the chaos of the world and  Pollution lessen as the cars on the road stop, I remember the driving to work myself in this time when some days I wouldn’t see a single car and also it was amazing hearing and see birds more than before. He captures this Goshawk couple in an extraordinary time this is a story of them but also has the reflections of the year which for James himself was a sad year With the loss of his father. I enjoyed the insight into a bird I haven’t seen it made me want to see a Goshawk at some point. Do you think there will be a section around ovoid and Lockdown in years to come or is it too early to tell? This was the first book I have read from this year’s Wainwright nature writing longlist.

Winston’s score – B a man in the woods captures a year like no other.

The Military Orchid by Joceyln Brooke

The Military Orchid by Jocelyn Brooke

English Nature writing

Source – personal copy

Well, I read Copsford last week and was bowled over by it and love the actual book itself it was a nicely presented work from the publisher Little Toller which until I brought that book I had never heard of so I went and had a look at there backlist of Nature writing classics and I choose two more to read and this is the first of those two books I selected Orchid Military which is the first of a trilogy by the English Writer Jocelyn  Brooke He was one of those old English characters he was in the military and had run away as a kid and then dropped out of Oxford before he joined the military in the medieval core this is also where he started to write and also discover the Orchid of the title of the book and also sent him what would be a google rabbit hole but then was discovering book after book and a journey of finding Orchids and the hunt for that one mystery Orchid.

Poor colonel Mackenzies! His book was not the best of introductions to its subject. Yet he was a true ochidomane, and I salute him across the years. I imagine him living in comfortable retirement in Surrey, in a red house with a drive and spiky gates, among pine trees; pottering on the downs above Betchworth and Shere but not often venturing further afield. Probably he did possess a copy of Bentham and Hooker, but he could have seldom have looked at it. It is a pleasing thought that another retired officer, colonel Godfrey, has written the standard Monograph on the British Orchidaceae (He also lives in Surrey)

His intro was the Colonel’s book on Orchids

The book opens as we see via a Mr Bundock how the young Jocelyn was drawn into Orchid and the first orchid he discovered was the Lizard Orchid this is the time he got one of the first of many books about the Orchids of Britain this was the colonel Mackenzie Orchids of Britain that was an example of a book that was written by the amateur nature writer. . But this book is where he discovers the Military Orchid ( `orchis Militaris). Which is the one orchid we see him hunting to discover if this very rare orchid is even confirmed as the book unwinds we Follow Jocelyn in the English countryside where we meet a cast of characters that are from a bygone age where the countryside is a mixture of snobs and those old country figures ( this remind me of living in Northumberland in my teens and the characters I used to pick up for my job in a day centre which had a number of character that reminds me of those that Jocelyn crossed. He also spends time abroad in his army career this is a mix of his military life and his growing love of Nature and Orchids as he gets more and more Orchid. books and he tells us about the writers on the whole a collection of amateurs like himself. We see if Evers gets to find this orchid and if it is even real.

Les seuls Vrais Paraadis, said Proust, sont les paradis qu’on la perdus: and conversely, the only genuine infernos, perhaps, are those which are yet to come. After the post-Munch period, with its atmosphere of slowly gathering crisis, the outbreak of war itself was like a sudden Holiday, bringing a sense of release, almost of relief: the kind of relief which an invalid feels when a definite disease has declared itself, replacing the vague, indefinable mails by a set of recognisable physical symptoms

I love this Proust quote(a little jealous I never got past the first books of Proust)

This was just what I need it is one of those books that is written by someone with a passion for their subject which for Brooke is Orchids alongside his growing up and witnessing Both wars and the inter war years and his Military career and home life. He mixes a comical view of the time of the world around him. Add to this is the wonderful Orchid pictures we get that illustrate a lot of the plants that we have read about. This is a mix of styles Memoir, Satire and military history during and after world wars it is also a quest work his ask is the Military Orchid you can see as the years go by and he hasn’t seen this rarely record Orchid does it even exist. It has a bit of Waugh, a bit of Edith Holden and added to that is his Quest it is a sort of Holy grail search for his beloved Orchid.He wrote a number of other books after this book, I will be looking out for the other two books in this collection of the collected trilogy as the other two books are meant to be as good as this one is. Have you read any books by Brooke? do you like memoirs that combine a love of Nature?

 

Winstons score – A two wars and the inter war years are a hunt for a mythical Orchid. Sees a man grow and discover a passion.

Copsford by Walter J. C. Murray

Copsford by Walter J. C. Murray

British Nature writing

Source – personal copy

I have decided a couple of years ago that every time I go and put flowers and visit where we scattered my mum’s ash which is about an hours drive from where I live in Derbyshire .I would by some nature writing my Mom and my Granddad who are also scattered on the same site in Macclesfield in Cheshire with were great nature lovers my granddad had a love of birds and birdwatching he paid for my old YOC membership growing up (the youth section of the (RSPB). So there is a mid-size Waterstones there which is slightly big than the one we have here so I went to the nature section and had a look round and actually had another book in my hand when this one caught my eye with its Black white cover which by the sheer tone of the photo you could tell it was an old print. The book was written by Walter Murray he was from Sussex and had been living in London in a third-floor flat when he decided he want to do a Thoreau (as in Walden) and he decide to return to Sussex and rent a heap the hep on the cover a cottage called cops ford and try and make a living of the land grow and drying herbs and making a simpler life.He had a lifelong love of nature and took photos of Nature the photos in this book are from the original book when it came out in 1948( The Copsford year was in the 20s though)

“No one ain’t lived in Copsford for more ‘an twenty year’ he protested “Its do be out of repair like’

“You’m best go an’ ; ave a look around first,’ he suggested. Then returning to the familiar rut, ‘Ice going ‘ ploughin’ in the ten-acre.’

He readjusted his hat and began to harness his two horses. He was happy again, so I set off across the field to inspect Copsford, this cottage “sech a mile from nowhere” where no one wanted to live.

He goes to look at cops ford after the farmer warns how it is derelict.

I am drawn to the idea of living away from it all one of the things I want to do in the future is go back to Northumberland and live in a small village. So the book opens when he decides to leave his third floor flat and his life in London and with his Dog floss his sheepdog. The farmer iS taken back when he asks if he can take on Copsford the cottage had been empty for decades and was broken down as you can see ion the cover also it is full of rats. So the opening few chapters we see him first trying to get at least one room liveable as he then tries to get rid of the rats from the property all this as he is having to fetch water and live by candlelight as he also reconnects with his childhood sweetheart a music teacher, this is about the time in the mid-twenties when Murray became a teacher and eventually a headmaster at his own school. What fools is his upon and downs as he Lears to live on the land and also at the end chapter sees him comparing what he made to how he lived in London to the money earned for rent and living costs in Copsford.

If the herb is taken too late from the drying-room, and this quite frequently happens when a spell of dry weather suddenly succeeds a long damp, blowdrying period, the plant is so brittle that it crumbles to dust. The rosette of pale green leaves of cleavers is so slight that there is always some loss of herb at the bagging-up time, but that is better than mould. Other herbs, if allowed to become to dry, just cannot be handled; they smash and crumble and fall away into useless fragments, Others again – a few – one never seems to be able to dry enough; they always feel moist or oily to the touch, no matter how many days they hang on the line

He learns how to dry the herbs he is wanting to harvest dry and sell

 

 

I said in the intro I called this a Thoreau he did similar when he went to live next to Walden lake it was a way to escape the pressure of the present and this is similar he just wants to capture the countryside and live on the land with his dog Floss and he does what he does is also start to notice the seasons and the world around him as he struggles to collect and work at his plan to gather and forage for Herbs to dry and sell. Then there is also the budding romance between him and his childhood sweetheart who lives near Copsford. The cottage itself becomes a character in the book, even more, when he decides to stay in the winter as he said it was the last gift it gave him. This book is timely there seems to be a movement toward a simple life post-Lockdown people have reconnected with nature and want a simpler life it’s strange that the Similar events in the 70s with strikes and cost of living crisis lead to the likes of the Good Life. I think we all love a bit of the countryside I know I love the mix of that and going to the city or a large town. This was republished just before the lockdown and maybe should be read if you like a year of nature-type books or want to see how the simpler life was never to simple even 100 years ago. Maybe it is the prototype Cottagecore book if you want to be present and live in the moment and be sustainable this is the book for you. Also, it has his wonderfully evocative pictures to bring to life the text and the year he spent there. Have you a favourite back-to-nature book?

Winstons score – +A just loved slipping into his year in copsford.

 

Vesper flights by Helen Macdonald

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

Nature writing

Source – Personal copy

I said to myself at the start of this year I need to add a couple of non-fiction books here and there which is something in all the time I have blogged has been thin on the ground I always see other Bloggers and Vloggers mention different non-fiction books and think I should read some of the books they have mentioned and I have always been a fan of nature writing but had only reviewed one book a year in the woods in my time blogging I had read a couple of other books A roger Deakin being one but not reviewed any of them anyway the second book from Helen Macdonald I brought last year when we visited were we scattered my mum’s ashes in Cheshire (which is an odd connection given the cover could be Jodrell Bank the radio telescope that dominates The area of Cheshire I grew up so the Linocut cover caught my eye). So I brought it last summer and the other memory of that day was a squirrel that was so tame it stood a mere couple of feet away as I place some flowers near when we scattered my mum’s ashes.

This creature was not what I expected, despite its slap of familiarity. It had the forward-meancing shoulder of a Baboon and the brute strtength and black hide of a bear. But it was not really anything like a bear, and what surprised me most of all was that it was nothing like a pig. As the beast trotted up to us, a miracle pf muscle and bristle and heft, I turned to the boy, and said, surprised, “It’s nothing like a pig!” With great satisfactionhe grinned and sad “No they’re really not.”

The meeting of a wild boar in the woods when it was reintroduced to the UK

 

I was immediately grabbed by her writing when Helen Macdonald talked of this collection as being like a Wunderkammern ( a box of curiosities ) this collection of Nature writing. that we get insight into how she first wanted to be a naturist the opening story talks of Nest and egg collection which Naturists used to do in the past but now seems so out date to the modern Naturist. I was reminded of Gald Durrel and his Amateur Naturalist series and book I loved when I was younger the way he collect things like Nest and eggs. Then we see how the reintroduction of Wild Boars makes walking in the wood different these days !! ( this also remind me of the film Beast of the southern wilds which had a recurring motif of an ancient giant Boar running ). An essay that touched me was her connection with a boy that Autism a touching tale of when they met. Then a tale of old Field guides which mention an old guide written about seeing birds through your opera glasses Elsewhere we see the effects of building on birds and An essay about Ants. Hares are the subject of another essay I was reminded of Moring in  Northumberland where I see the Rabbits and hares out in force near Alnwick Castle in the fields around as I walked my first dog.

The process of indentifying aniumals in this way has a fascinating history, for field guides have closely tracked changes in the ways we interact with nature. Untilthe earlyyear of the twentieth century, bird guides, for example, mostly came in two kinds. Some moralised, anthropomphic life hiostories, like Florence merra’s 1889 Birds through an opera-glass, which describes the bluebirdas having a “model temper” while the catbird possessed a “lazy self indulgence”. “If he were a man,” she wrote of the latter “you feel confident that he would sit in short sleeves at home and go oin the street wthout a collar.” The other kind was the technical volume for ornithological collectors.

Old field guide this made me smile with the description of  the old guide looking through Opera glasses.

I think you can guess from my description how much I loved this book I love books that make you think of your own experiences and I have always loved Nature I used to love walking in the Northumberland countryside and now these days in the Peaks I think it was Durrell’s book that opens my eyes and that is the beauty of a book like this is that it reminds you to appreciate the world around us and it also reminds us how fragile the world around is us is and how much effect we can have on the world around us. If you like nature writing I would say pick this up it left me wanting to read more from Helen Macdonald and also wanting to go out and observe the world around us again afresh. Have any of you read her Memoir H is for Hawk?

Winstons score – +A, A gem and uplifting read for a dull January day !!

A year in the woods by Colin Elford

A year in the woods

Notes –

Colin is a forest ranger working for the forestry commission in Dorset ,His neighbour is angling journalist who suggest he publish this book from his notes made over a year working in his job .

The book –

We start of in January with Colin going round the woods with his two dogs checking that everything is ok for the year ahead .We learn what his job entails the control of the deer with in the land making sure the wood is in tip-top condition .We she him training a German to stalk a deer although he doesn’t like him that much he is touch by the farewell and the gratitude of the skills he has passed on to this guy .There are funny accounts like the time he has rushed out to help to rutting deers that have got there antlers stuck together .Now a note of caution there is hunting of animals described in this book .

It’s early and in the dark I stagger to find the door handle to the kitchen .A blast of wind and rain throws itself at the kitchen window and stare into the darkness ,jugding the opposition .

outside i point to the open door of my truck and both dogs are quavering in anticipation ,waiting for my command .I say the word -up ……………

the opening lines of the book .

My view –

I have always loved nature books from notes from walnut tree farm to Walden ,Colin drags you in to the Dorset woods and a year of the land changing around him the coming and going of nature wonderfully descriptive and insightful with the real sense of Colin’s love of his job and the land he is working in .A true gem for any nature lover .

book booty from nottingham

On friday i went to an exhibition at Nottingham contemporary gallery ,this gave me chance to pop in to the large waterstones they have there and get some books this is what i got –

  • how to live by Sarah Bakewell – part biography /part philosophy Sarah’s book is about the 16th century french noble man and writer Michel De Montaigne who wrote numerous essays on a wide range of  subjects .I got heads upon this via rob at robaround books .
  • desert by J M G Le Clezio -The french writer was little known in the uk before his noble win two years ago this is a new translation of what is his most widely acclaimed and respected novel ,two intertwined stories one about tribal uprising the other set in a shanty town this is meant to be a tough read .
  • the year of the hare by Arto Pasilinna – This is highly regard in his native finland and france ,the story follows a journalist as he drops out of society to follow a hare he injured with a car into the wilds of Finland .
  • The conservationist by Nadine Gordimer – i got this at local Oxfam ,it’s a booker winner and one i ve want for quite a while .it follows Mering as his life falls apart a bit like the south africa around him .
  • A year in the woods – Colin Elford -This was my birthday gift from my darling wife and was a book i really wanted i love good nature writing and have want this since it was mention in a radio programme a start of the year ,it follows Colin a forest ranger for a yearn the ebb and follow of the unwinding seasons the wildlife and plants he sees .

December 2022
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