Posts tagged natural history
A Little Summer Reading...

We're just reaching the end - I hope - of our manically busy few weeks and with a bit of luck we'll begin to slide into a slower August.

I thought that this summer I'd try and make sure that even though we're not planning a 'proper' holiday, I'd attempt to do things a little differently so that it feels like a change from the usual routine. The danger of staying at home I've discovered is that I spend too much time just doing the same old things, so this year I've got a plan...

It's not a hugely outrageous plan, in fact it's probably quite tame, but having thought about what I miss most about holidays I realised it's that I don't give myself time to just sit and read. When we go away I have no problem sitting and reading for hours, but for some reason if we stay at home I just feel guilty doing it, so this August I am going to pretend I'm on holiday and catch up with some of the books I've been stockpiling by the side of the bed for the last few weeks.

Would you like to see the stack?

I suppose you could see some thread or theme running through most of these - a love ofthe English landscape and a desire to learn more about it perhaps.

I bought the WG Hoskins - The Making Of The English Landscape some months ago and I've been dipping in quite often, but most of my reading is done at bedtime and this is a book I'd really like to sit and make notes with - not easy when you're doing your best not to fall asleep.

If you've found me on Instagram you'll know that I'm an avid hedgerow-watcher, so the John Wright - A Natural History of the Hedgerow was a must when I spotted it recently in the bookshop. I've been photographing the hedgerow where I walk the dog for the best part of four years now and I'm beginning to know my way around some of the plants, but the more I get to know it, the more I realise how much I don't know - I'm really hoping this will deepen my awareness.

I'm not sure what I'll make of the Claire Leighton - Four Hedges.To be entirely honest I only skimmed through when I saw it near to the John Wright book, but it has the most wonderful illustrations and it has me intrigued - so I'll let you know what it's all about once I've read it.

The book of poetry by John Clare is another book I've been dipping into for weeks now. I can't believe it took me this long to begin to know Clare's work. It's only been in the last couple of years that I'd even heard of him, but what a remarkable poet he was. I wonder if I've come to appreciate him now as I've begun to appreciate nature at a deeper level - I do have a theory that sometimes we meet the right book at the right time and this might well be an example of that.

Nicholas Crane's - The Making of the British Landscape is almost the most recent addition to the pile and I've barely opened it at all, but having ignited the whole topic with the Hoskins I was fascinated to read a more recent take on the same subject (and anyway I like Crane's style) - I'm going to enjoy getting to this one.

So I think there's definitely some connection between those five titles, but the last two are in the stack simply because they called to me.

Kassia St Clair's - The Secret Lives of Colour was serialised on BBC Radio 4 a few weeks ago - did you hear any of it? I was hooked just from listening, but when I saw the hardback in Topping I was delighted. It's brilliantly put together, laid out in colour sections, it gives you the story around a range of individual colours. This book is perfect for occasional dipping into, but I could just as easily sit and read it cover to cover (and I very well may). If you're at all interested in colours and/or art history do have a look out for this title.

And finally...Frank McLynn - The Road Not Taken just set all my history-junkie juices flowing. It's not about roads - it's about how Britain has narrowly missed having a revolution from 1381 to 1926. Because let's face it, we've come close and sometimes when I listen to the news on the radio I wonder how close we might be coming again. And history is usually written by the winners, so it's refreshing to read about protests from a different perspective - eye-opening in some ways. So far I've read about the Peasant's Revolt and Jack Cade's rebellion - and I can't help thinking we should teach more of this in schools today.

I've never been very good at writing book reviews, so I can't promise to come back and tell you what I thought, but if you've read any of these, do let me know what you thought about them. 

So that's my reading list for now - what are you reading this summer? Do you pick and choose or do you pursue a subject in depth? 

Happy reading!



Feeling the energy...

Well what a week! Thank you to everyone who's followed me over here from Dreaming In Stitches, I really appreciate that very much indeed. And a huge welcome to the new readers who've found your way here too - welcome. 

early elderberries

After all the excitement of going live with A Stitchery Spellbook last weekend I was half expecting this week to be a return to something less frantic, I had a mental image of wafting about in a clean tidy home, scented with fresh laundry and sitting down to stitch with a vaguely beatific smile on my face.  Which as you can imagine isn't exactly what happened. Instead the pile of domestic stuff which I'd probably been ignoring for a bit too long decided to gang up on me and pounce - but anyway, here I am, trying to regain my rhythm and to settle back into what I've occasionally laughingly called my routine....

In the lane...

While I've been out walking the dog this week, it's really struck me how the energy of spring has now given way to something different, something slower and more introspective. The showy blossom season has passed and now we're beginning to see the fruits appear. The energy which was so palpable has turned inwards and it's harder to connect with it as we walk along the lane every morning.

Looking closely it's surely going to be a wonderfully abundant autumn. I've got my eyes on the sloes (so long as I can afford a couple of bottles of gin to pop them in), and judging from the cascades of tiny bullet-hard blackberries that are starting to form, there will be ample blackberry and apple pies this year. But there are also masses of elderberries on their way, acorns aplenty, haws, hips and crab apples by the bucket load and best of all, hazelnuts.

And these are just the things I can spot and know what to do with. I imagine any naturalist worth their salt could easily add to this list of foods for free.

But for all that, the feeling I have in the lane at the moment is almost tiredness. It's not the first time I've experienced this, to me it seems as if all that effort during spring has left it exhausted. Now it's conserving itself, pouring it's energy into the fruits with little left to dazzle the daily dog walker as she ambles past.

Well, that's as it should be. We're all creatures of cycles and rhythms and there are times when we sparkle and times when we just trudge on. The thing is to recognise that and not to fight against it. Sometimes you have to let things roll, put your energies into the place they need to be.

Over the last few years of walking this route every day I've begun to feel these patterns as they happen and now it's much less of a worry than it first felt, now I think I'm beginning to learn to roll with the rhythms too.

In the frame

I'd have to admit that my stitching rhythm's been a bit off lately too. I've been working on this latest Rose Window inspired piece and although there are aspects of it that I'm enjoying, I can't say that I've entirely bonded with it yet. From past experience I know this isn't necessarily a problem, some pieces don't reveal themselves until you've committed quite a lot of work, nevertheless, I can't decide how this one really feels at the moment.

stitched rose window wip detail.jpg

What I'm learning from these Rose Windows is that there is something hypnotic about the shape, and whilst the gothic windows which inspire them are perfectly symmetrical, I rather like bending them, twisting them a little and introducing some leafy curves or petal shapes. It is confined within a circle, a repeated segmentation, but each part is unique. I'm already thinking about the next one - which might be part of the problem - but I'll stay with this one for now and see where we go.

Old Places...

I thought this week was going to be gallivanting-free and devoid of old places but on Monday evening the OH asked if I fancied going with him to Bath again the next day and so off we went at crack of dawn on Tuesday. This time I have to admit my main preoccupation was with books - I may have re-homed a few more, which of course is merely a public service. One of the books I came home with is The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair. Did you hear excerpts on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago? Well it's brilliant, buy a hard copy if you're in the smallest bit interested in colours.

(The others (ahem, several in fact) I'll tell you about another day).

To be honest I didn't really do much heritage-wandering on Tuesday apart form the inevitable gazing about that you always do in Bath without even thinking about it. The rain had kept the crowds back down by the Abbey so I took a few pictures of the Abbey front. It's a bit later than many medieval cathedrals, dating from about 1520 and unusually features angels ascending Jacob's Ladder. 

And so there you have it. A week of trying to get back into a routine and not entirely succeeding, but that's alright, I'm going with the flow. Hope you are too. Do you have any tips for riding the ups and downs of energy levels? I feel that women of a certain age are probably the world experts on energy levels, but that's another story.

As always, you'll find me on Instagram and Twitter most days, it would be lovely to hear from you there or here anytime. 

Happy stitching x