A thought-provoking and fascinating non-fiction book that’s quite possibly my favourite read of 2021 (and this is really saying something, as I’ve read a sizeable number of truly excellent books to get me through an epically challenging time).
Neil Ansell catalogues his visits throughout the year to the New Forest, with its flourishing plant and birdlife; a forest that’s almost unchanged from its original, planted at the time of William the Conqueror who particularly liked to hunt game.
There are hints of sadness to the book as the author reflects upon the drastic diminishment of birdlife in England during the last few decades, plus the loss of habitat in general for wildlife. He also talks of how the Gypsies dwelt in the New Forest for centuries, living in harmony with the environment, but were then expelled to cities by those who thought they knew better.
Ansell manages to travel quite seamlessly backwards and forwards in time, weaving history, childhood memoir, the present, and the long-term ecological impact of failing to care for the environment.
About the author: Neil Ansell has been an award-winning television journalist with the BBC and a long-standing writer in newpaper journalism.
We’ve just had a gentle heatwave here in the South of England. The birds have sung from dawn until dusk. My garden is in bloom in the sort of wondrous clashing colours that only nature can pull off with aplomb. And my creativity has returned.
Thus, I’ve written two eco-poems for competitions, plus I know exactly what I’m going to write for three short story competitions. Meanwhile, a twenty by twenty-four-inch canvas is glaring at my back from its easel, if a quarter-painted landscape/seascape can be said to glare. (Yes, canvas, I’m going to retrieve my paintbrushes from the cupboard soon.)
So, what has everybody else been doing or not doing in the last couple of months?