I couldn't think of anything else to call this post because for those of you who, like me, enjoy some good nature writing and traipsing on a bit of a wander via the page with someone else, well the good books are stacking up in time for any lists of suitable gifts you might be compiling in the weeks ahead.
As you know this is all to ensure that no one gives you The Life and Times of Kim Kardashian unless you really want it that is.
I am still clueless about exactly who KK is and why so important..
But moving swiftly on, While Wandering - A Walking Companion edited by Duncan Minshull, and with a foreword by Robert Macfarlane, caught my eye on a recent foray to the Falmouth Bookshop and a copy made its way home with me...I paid for it first obviously.
This is a re-issue of a book first published in 2000 as The Vintage Book of Walking, so maybe check it isn't already on your shelves, because Robert Macfarlane's copy is apparently very well-travelled after many miles in a rucksack. I can see that it is exactly the sort of book you might want to settle down with after a day's hiking; an anthology of 'walking-writing,' which I am reading at the end of each day (whether I have walked anywhere or not) while the bath fills, and finding delights such as this...
'There is charm in footing across a silent plain..
There is a joy in every spot, made known by times of old.
New to the feet, although the tale a hundred times be told...'
John Keats 'Lines Written in the Highlands' goes on to describe 'when weary feet forget themselves upon a pleasant turf,' and I immediately remembered my recent Tamar River walk (more about that next week) and the relief of grass after a few miles of path.
This book will probably last me for a full year of daily reading, what better value can there be than that.
While I am on the subject of daily reading, I spotted Claxton- Field Notes From a Small Planet by Mark Cocker in the Caught by the River newsletter and immediately had to order a copy. If you don't know of Caught by the River sign up for the weekly e mail and you will soon be hooked (sorry)
"Caught by the River was born on a bankside seven years ago. Although initially an idle conversation between friends, it soon grew into an online forum for all things outdoors – angling, birding, walking, drinking, listening & living."
Mark Claxton, in a single year-long cycle,'explores his relationship to the East Anglian landscape, to nature and to all the living things around him.' It is an exercise in observation and awareness resulting in a concise but inspiring entry for almost every day of the year. So I put down While Wandering and pick up Claxton, and the bath still hasn't filled (because I now put it on very slowly.)
It is very local to East Anglia, and thus not of direct relevance to the view from my Tamar Valley window, and I wondered if that would matter...it doesn't. The observations are universal and can be of relevance wherever you live..
'The naturalist Max Nicholson once wrote something I always try to remember on seeing swallows, that trult they are not birds of the land; rather their primary habitat is a thin layer of sky that lies just above the earth's surface. Swallows are before everything citizens of the air.'
We certainly understand that living here...
Rising Ground - A Search for the Spirit of Place by Philip Marsden was another of those books I kept hearing about everywhere and for some reason seeing nowhere, when I would have thought it would be a book to trip over down here in the West Country.
Moving from a seaside village to a remote creekside farmhouse in Cornwall, Philip Marsden, surprised by his response to his surroundings, planned a journey around the county, creating in this book a 'fusion of travelogue, cultural history, nature writing and memoir' as he travels from place to place. He explores the myth and the magic, and the work of those who have gone before him...'the medieval chroniclers, the Tudor topographers, the eighteenth-century antiquarians, post-industrial poets, abstract painters' and in doing so tries to pin down that sense of place and belonging which had first struck him.
The quest is in progress, and 150 or so pages in I am completely spellbound by the mix of personal anecdote (the house is falling down, the water supply is dodgy...I have some sympathy) the local history and the wider travels. For one thing I will have to look at Bodmin Moor with new eyes, and not just as a bleak and desolate traverse in order to go shopping in Truro, or those hills in the distance from our garden. I blame Daphne du Maurier, she never made Bodmin seem particularly warm and friendly did she, it's not a place that beckons with the same power that Dartmoor does.
Finally, and keeping pace with the grayscale cover trend, Underlands - A Journey Through Britain's Lost Landscape by Ted Nield. I am so wrapped up with what's happening above gorund that a look at what lies beneath will be in order very soon. Ted Nield 'unearths the veins of coal, stone, oil, rock and clay that make up the country beneath our feet,' as he delves into the history and geology of 'this forgotten Britain.' A quick dip tells me I am going to be learning new things, probably a whole lot of 'Did You Know' for car journeys too...perfect.
It reminds me what a work of art is the geological map of Britain too, a patchwork quilt of Jurassic, Devonian, Cambrian and a whole lot more in between... like a beautifully marbled endpaper.
But I have a final thought. Four really excellent books...but all by men.
Are there really no women out there being observant and walking too...