Taking refuge in nature

We all need to get away from things from time to time. To recharge our batteries and to regain perspective on our often chaotic lives. And there is no better place to do this, science is now telling us, than in the outdoors. Where we can leave our troubles behind us and embrace the deeper rhythm of the natural world. Where we can take time to heal. Continue reading

Changing how we think about nature

There are books that make me laugh and books that make me think. But there are very few books that actually change me as a person. Feral by George Monbiot is one of those books. It has transformed fundamentally how I think about the world and has inspired me to be more courageous in challenging the received wisdom of our times. Continue reading

It’s the little things

My new favourite author, Michael Perry*, has a theory about making it as a writer. It is, he says, like shovelling horse manure. If you keep at it long enough, sooner or later you’ll have a pile so big that people can’t ignore it any more.
Pencil

In my writing, as in life more generally, I have a tendency to forget this. I seem always to be aiming for the one big idea. The thing that will bring everything together. A towering monument to my own accomplishment.

This is, sadly, just as unlikely as it is pompous. Continue reading

A populist explosion

Unless you’ve been particularly unobservant or on an extended spelunking expedition, you’ll have noticed that politics has gone through a bit of a change recently. People whom we would previously have dismissed as loons are attaining political office. The gap between the political establishment and the man or woman in the street has become a chasm. And everything that we thought we knew about electoral maths no longer seems to apply. Continue reading

On pastures new

I’ve been to the Lake District three times now. And each time I go there my love for this remote corner of the country grows a little bit stronger. But I’m very aware that I do little more than skim across the surface of this ancient and revered landscape. I do not truly know it. I do not understand it. And I most definitely do not belong. Continue reading

On (flatpack) democracy

There’s a general feeling at the moment that voting in elections isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Politicians are all the same anyway, so the consensus goes, and you get an almost identical old bunch of self-serving, out-of-touch buffoons regardless of the candidate or party you select on the ballot paper. Whether it’s a national election or a local one, it seems, you might as well stay at home and rearrange your CD collection. Continue reading

One man and his hill

It started, as such things tend to do, with a Land Rover. Now, if you’re anything like me, this will be enough to get you racing out to buy the book. But add the bleak and forlorn beauty of the Brecon Beacons, a can-do cast of sturdy local characters and a ramshackle old farmhouse with an image problem. Well, that’s enough to make you want to ditch the laptop and get out there house-hunting. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you…) Continue reading

On the run

The more I run, the more I want to learn about running. Not from textbooks or training guides, but from the experiences of other runners. So it was an absolute delight to read two great books by fellow runners. Both very different in style and content, but both equally riveting. Even if you’re not really that into running. Continue reading

Some harsh truths about what we eat

I’ve never met Jay Rayner. I have seen him a few times on television, though, and have always written him off as an opinionated Londoner who could wax lyrical for hours about the joys of the perfectly cooked scallop, but didn’t know diddly squat about where food actually comes from. Continue reading

The power of dreams

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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We all have dreams. Some of us continue to merely dream them, but others find the courage to make them reality. And to my great delight, two such individuals – or, rather, books by or about such individuals – found their way into my Christmas stocking. And given that I’d read them cover to cover by new year, you can probably guess that I found them both rather riveting. Continue reading