A mysterious letter. A secret journal. An ancient wood, in borderland territory. Deceptive paths and strange, ghostlike figures, stirring at the edge of the trees. These were some of the elements that quickly took hold and drew me into Ryhope Wood, when I first read about it aged 15.
Recently I re-read it, rediscovered and found many new things to treasure.
As the beam touches you, it has a near instant effect, quickly drawing your thoughts out through the window and filling you with a desire to be out there, on the other side of the glass, walking in the sunlight, exploring the city streets, or escaping over the horizon, (I like to think of this particular effect as a positive variety of Corpse-light or Willow-the-wisp, but without the danger of being drawn into some terrible dark and boggy end).
At the inaugural Balham Literary Festival, a gathering of Nature Writers, Landscape Writers and Writer writers came together to discuss the state of the natural world. Here’s my report on what I saw and heard.
It’s dark. It’s raining. January is upon us and the season of reflection, projection and resolve is underway. For voracious readers, this means that the perennial question: what to read next will be nagging at their shoulders more urgently than ever.
This post originally began as a rant about ‘gatekeeping’ in so-called ‘New Nature Writing’. Since then, I’ve tightened it up a little, and updated some of the links, esp. re lack of diversity in nature writing, creeping nativism and more.
I was recently nominated by a friend on Facebook to post a list of the 10 books that had made the most impact on me. It was a lot harder than I thought and I’ve had to miss out some real favourites. I could have written ten lists, let alone ten titles, featuring almost entirely…
I must admit that when I first heard about the campaign to make London the world’s first National Park City, I thought it was a joke.
And yet the more I thought about it, the more interesting the concept became.
All book lovers and avid readers, whatever type of book or subject matter they’re into, are faced with one great big non-negotiable truth – YOU’LL NEVER READ THEM ALL.
Imagine a map that grew and shrank, advanced and retreated as we lived out our lives. This map wouldn’t simply chart every building, street and pavement encountered, this map would change according to the weight and resonance an individual gave to a place.
Landscapes, places and routes that meant more to you personally would be given greater prominence.
Equally places you had never visited, or didn’t care, for would shrink in relative size, or disappear altogether. This would be an emotional map, a map of the inner world as much the external one.
I’ve just returned from a three-day visit to the Port Eliot Festival, in St Germans, Cornwall. It’s hard to put into words just how good and right the place and atmosphere felt. On the last stage of the drive you wind through a series of roads that alternately give views across small fields that are…