Dear Readers, this is just a gentle reminder that today is the last day for submitting your answers to the Christmas Quiz if you decided to have a go. I have been removing completed answers from the comments so that they didn’t influence anyone who came after. Answers will be published tomorrow.
Dear Readers, ever since I was a little girl all I ever really wanted for Christmas was books. However, it’s often hard for non-readers to appreciate this. Mum and Dad, for example, would look at my Christmas list, shake their heads, and buy me something that they wanted to buy me instead. One year it was a leopard-skin print shirt dress. One year it was a pink faux-fur dressing gown. On one semi-successful year they seem to have bought up the entire contents of The Body Shop, and I smelled of Dewberry for the next eighteen months. I was always grateful, even though the aforementioned leopard-print shirt dress was several sizes too big and creased every time I sat down. After all, part of the joy of Christmas is in the giving, and I was always glad that people had loved me enough to buy me something.
This year has been sad in many ways, but goodness, it’s been a long time since I’ve been so happy with my Christmas presents. I think that nature writing in general is having a real renaissance, and so I was delighted to get ‘The Wild Life of the Fox by John Lewis- Stempel, one of my favourite nature writers, with a long history of interesting, prize-winning books behind him. However, I was also lucky enough to get one of the publishing sensations of the year, by Merlin Sheldrake – ‘The Entangled Life’ is a mind-blowing guide to the world of fungi, an area that I’ve become more and more interested in during lockdown, partly due to the infectious enthusiasm of my friend A, who is never happier than when she’s clambering up a muddy bank in search of an elusive mushroom.
And then there’s this book, by an author who is new to me, Marianne Taylor. Long-time readers will know how I love to champion underloved wildlife, and as gulls are so often cast as villains I fully expect to be enlightened and cheered by this book.
Now, aside from books which will be informative and fun to read, I like to have some heavier reading material so that I can educate myself. First on the list is the new book by Jeff Ollerton, whose London Natural History Talk on Pollinators and Pollination was so interesting. This will be one that will require taking notes and highlighting things I’m sure.
And I have recently fallen in love with the British Wildlife Collection – these books are both beautiful and interesting, and range widely across their subject areas. It makes me happy just to look at them. Roll on retirement, when I can really get stuck in!
But finally, here is a very beautiful book. Not one for taking out into the field for sure, but one to dip into, and one that I’m sure will help when the Wednesday Weed returns very shortly.
Each double-page spread features two plant illustrations that are somehow related – often something from a very old flora juxtaposed with a much more recent painting or photograph. The book explores our relationship to flowers in a myriad ways, and makes me constantly question what I held to be true. Much more than just a coffee-table book (though it is extremely beautiful) I can see me poring over it for years.
And so I feel truly blessed in my friends and family this year, and can’t wait to settle down and get stuck in. In truth, if I lived to be 300 there wouldn’t be time to read all the books that I want to read, but what a joy they are! I would love to hear what Santa Claus brought you for Christmas, and how you’re getting on over the holidays. I am always up for a chat.