I was delighted when another book arrived that I might be able to slot in alongside my daily reading of Roger Deakin's Notes From Walnut Tree Farm, this one The Country Diaries - A Year in the British Countryside edited by Alan Taylor and published by Canongate.
The cover suggested that the book would work but I've been test-running it through September just to be sure and I can report it's definitely fit for purpose, plus it has a ribbon bookmark which surely should be standard on all books like this.
A daily compilation of extracts from rural diaries in the same style as The Assassin's Cloak which I enjoyed so much.
Those of you who endure grievous disquiet at the notion of writing in books should look away now because I often use a book like this as a diary of my own too, scribbling alongside the date something that has happened here that will jog my memory in successive years. It gets worse because I only had a fountain pen with J.Herbin's Violette Pensee ink to hand so that had to do I'm afraid.
In books like this I always dash to my own special dates just to see how they have been remembered and thought the entry for my birthday just had to be a really special one and then I could look forward to it every year, perhaps Kilvert out walking with someone who had met Wordsworth at Ambleside and been to tea at Rydal Mount or one of his marvellous little anecdotes about country customs,
'I called on Mrs Martin. She was busy picking pheasants' feathers to make a pillow. Talking of feather beds she said, 'Pheasants feathers will do very well for a bed, but no pigeons' feathers. People don't like to sleep on pigeons' feathers.' 'Why not?' I asked. 'Well,' said Susan Martin mysteriously, 'folk do say that a person can't die on pigeons' feathers.'
or going out to tea
'At tea I sat between Miss and Mrs Oswald and opposite and tongue. May I never sit opposite a tongue again, at least if I have to carve it with a new round-headed small knife as blunt as a fruit knife...'
Or perhaps my day would be blessed with a little nugget from Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Hopkins has that unerring microscopic eye for detail that I'm slowly trying to acquire on my Book Pondering walks, it's all about giving enough time to the looking and it's not easy,
'There is a large-leaved kind of ash which grows in tall close bushes: when the wind blows it the backs of the sprays, which are silvery, look like combs of fish-bones...'
or perhaps a Gerald extract that spoke pure Hopkins-esque language
'Young elmleaves lash and lip the sprays. This has been a very beautiful day - fields about us deep green lighted underneath with white daisies, yellower fresh green of leaves above which bathes the skirts of the elms, and their tips are touched and worded with leaf too...'
Oh, yes, please let my day be a Gerard Manley Hopkins one, so I rushed to the date with great anticipation,
'Had a thorn taken out of the middle of that part of the body which Derham calls a large flat cushion of flesh by my wife last night.'