Easy access to the internet and faster broadband, for many in the West at least, mean that anyone interested in landscape, nature, geography, topography and related areas can now spend vast amounts of time casting their eyes over an almost limitless territory of online landscapes and environments.
As a result, it is quite possible for people to devote many more hours gazing at digital photographs of places near and far, than actually spending time in them.
If it is possible to be haunted by a place, then I think that I am. In this case it is Ashley Vale in Bristol – an exceptional urban oasis caught between the tracks, containing allotments, woods, hilltops and a pub next door to a farm.
Brandon Hill aside, other hills in the city have their own distinctively languid charm and grace, such as Park Street, while a few are simply brutes.
One of these is the short and abrupt St Michael’s Hill, stretching from Upper Maudlin Street to Cotham. The lower slopes are dotted with attractive iron street furniture, step-work and historic buildings – including the pretty Colston Alms Houses – but don’t let these architectural gewgaws deceive you – it’s a bastard.
From the blurb on my copy of H is for Hawk it was pretty clear that the book was about Helen Macdonald and Goshawks and TH White and grief. I didn’t mistake the book for the Observer Book of Goshawks and feel outraged by all the snot and tears.
I read it and loved it. Only then, did I discover that there are, apparently, very strict rules, about how Nature Writing should be done…