Tag Archives: nature

#BookReview ‘Wildwood’ by Roger Deakin #trees #nature

Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees is the first nature book by Roger Deakin I’ve read, now I want to read more. I’ve always loved trees, in nature, in art, the timber, wooden objects. As we know, it is beneficial to lose ourselves outside in nature, breathing in the fresh air, absorbing the quiet, acknowledging the trees and flowers, and so I found the experience of reading this book. It will make you want to camp outside in the woods. Roger Deakin

The first half of this book is a journey through the woods of Suffolk around Deakin’s home, talking to woodlanders and slipping in literature, poetry, woodworking and science. The second half is travel writing… about trees. Deakin travels to Kazakhstan in search of wild apple groves, the founding trees on which all our domesticated apples are based. In complete contrast are the chapters about Australia. Deakin lives and travels with local people in both places, enthusiasts and specialists in their subject, and this comes through in his writing. Both parts of this book are fascinating, just different. In the UK he talks to artists, woodcarvers, naturalists and thatchers in East Anglia, the New Forest, Wye and the Forest of Dean. His memories of schoolboy camping trips to the New Forest analysing and chronicling a small part of woodland show how young minds can find a fascination that lasts a lifetime.

At times quite dense with detail, I read this in short bursts rather than in one long reading session. Deakin inhabits his book with real people, he describes what they look like and how they speak, their cabins [often rough shacks in woodland], their tools, the timber they grow, manage and work with. Many are scientists others are artists. It is a homogeneous read in that everyone featured loves trees.

A delightful read. I was particularly pleased to read about artist David Nash, whose work I saw at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and instantly fell in love with.

If you like this, try:-
Landmarks’ by Robert Macfarlane 
Notes from Walnut Tree Farm’ by Roger Deakin 
Holloway’ by Dan Richards, Robert Macfarlane & Stanley Donwood 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#BookReview WILDWOOD by Roger Deakin #trees #nature https://wp.me/p5gEM4-40D via @SandraDanby

A poem to read in the bath… ‘A Shropshire Lad II’ by AE Housman #poetry

Alfred Edward Housman published two books in his lifetime, A Shropshire Lad in 1896 and Last Poems in 1922, followed after his death by More Poems. His part-patriotic, part-nostalgic poetry appealed to a population at war, his words of nature, sorrow and the brevity of life striking a chord during the Great War.

AE Housman

[photo – EO Hoppé]

This is the second poem in A Shropshire Lad. Please search out the poem in an anthology or at your local library.

‘A Shropshire Lad II’

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide

Listen to Alan Brownjohn read ‘A Shropshire Lad II’ at The Poetry Archive.

Read these other excerpts, and perhaps find a new poet to love:-
The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost
Japanese Maple’ by Clive James
The Cinnamon Peeler’ by Michael Ondaatje

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A #poem to read in the bath: ‘A Shropshire Lad II’ by AE Housman https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4bG via @SandraDanby

A poem to read in the bath… ‘Along the field as we came by’

Best known for A Shropshire Lad, the poems of AE Housman reflect the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside. Popular throughout the Victorian and Edwardian periods running up to the Great War, this two stanza poem by Housman transitions from first romantic love to death and grief, followed by hope and new love. It was his simplicity of style that appealed, and his nostalgic nature settings.

Here is the first verse.

‘Along the field as we came by
A year ago, my love and I,
The aspen over stile and stone
Was talking to itself alone.
‘Oh, who are these that kiss and pass?
A country lover and his lass;
Two lovers looking to be wed;
And time shall put them both to bed,
But she shall lie with earth above,
And he beside another love.’


‘The Picador Book of Funeral Poems’ ed. by Don Paterson [UK: Picador]

Read these other excerpts, and perhaps find a new poet to love:-
‘Cloughton Wyke I’ by John Wedgwood Clarke
‘Elegy’ by Carol Ann Duffy
‘Sometimes and After’ by Hilda Doolittle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A #poem to read in the bath: ‘Along the field as we came by’ by AE Housman https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3dN via @SandraDanby

A poem to read in the bath… ‘After a Row’ by Tom Pickard #poetry #nature

Winter Migrants by poet Tom Pickard is a collection of poetry and prose, starting with the prize-winning sequence ‘Lark & Merlin’, an erotic pursuit over the hills and fells of the poet’s Northern-English homeland. In truth, I could have selected anything from this slim volume, but ‘After a Row’ just caught my mood today.

Tom Pickard

[photo: carcanet.co.uk]

Because of copyright restrictions I am unable to reproduce the poem in full, but please search it out in an anthology or at your local library.

‘After a Row’
A lapwing somersaults spring,
Flips over winter and back.

After a fast walk – my limbs
The engine of thought – up long hills
Where burn bubbles into beck and clough to gill

Tom Pickard


Read these other excerpts, and perhaps find a new poet to love:-
‘Sometimes and After’ by Hilda Doolittle
‘Cloughton Wyke 1’ by John Wedgwood Clarke
‘Forgetfulness’ by Hart Crane

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A #poem to read in the bath: ‘After a Row’ by @tompickardpoet http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2UD via @SandraDanby



Book review: A Sudden Light

a sudden light by garth stein 22-9-14How to define this story? It’s a coming of age tale, a ghost story, it’s about forests and trees and about man’s responsibility to nature. I loved it, one of the best books I‘ve read this year and quite different from everything else.

Garth Stein [below] is a new author for me. I was attracted to this book by three features: the ethereal cover, the setting in the Pacific North-Western corner of the US, and the family/saga ghost story combination.

Trevor’s parents are separated. His mother has flown home to England for the summer while Trevor visits for the first time his ancestral home on the Olympic Peninsula outside Seattle. Trevor’s objective is to repair his parents’ marriage, he is not sure how. But from the first day he and his father, Jones, arrive at Riddell House on The North Estate, everything seems strange. The house is enormous, built by Trevor’s great-great-grandfather Elijah Riddell a century earlier, testament to Elijah’s riches earned from his logging business. It is a mansion, built from timber, set amongst trees, isolated and rotting. The house is at the centre of this story; its physicality, its history, what it meant to Elijah and his son Ben, and what the sale of it could mean to the current Riddell generation: much needed cash. Trevor meets his aunt Serena [she asks him to call her Simply Serena] and his Grandfather Samuel, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. The mysteries start from day one. garth stein - photo garthstein.com 22-9-14Is the ghost of Jones and Serena’s mother dancing upstairs? What exactly is Serena’s agenda, is she trying to seduce 14-year old Trevor? Is Grandfather Samuel speaking rubbish, or not? And what secret is Jones hiding? Money is at the centre of this tale, a family who earned fortunes as the 19th century turned into the 20th by forging timber links with the railroads. That same family now has a mansion which is falling into ruin, while Jones is newly bankrupt after the failure of his boatbuilding business.

Everyone has an agenda at Riddell House that summer, including Trevor.

To watch the book trailer for A Sudden Light, click here.
To visit Garth Stein’s website, click here.
Click here to explore the North Estate, the enigmatic setting for A Sudden Light.
‘A Sudden Light’ by Garth Stein [UK: Simon & Schuster]