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.
You can find out where to buy a copy of The Circling Sky by visiting the publisher’s website https://www.tinderpress.co.uk/titles/neil-ansell/the-circling-sky/9781472272362/
Other books by the same author:
- Deep Country
- Deer Island
- The Last Wilderness (shortlisted in 2018 for Wainwright Golden Beer Prize and the Highland Book Prize)
Two nights ago, I experienced my first Covid-related dream. Often, if a dream is memorable enough to stay in your mind for hours after waking, you realise its fragmented storyline was a weaving together of snippets out of your previous day, things you’ve read or experienced in the past, and whatever is your present chief preoccupation.
My pandemic dream was interesting, to say the least. Someone had drilled through rock layers and accidentally released the Covid-19 virus from the age of dinosaurs into our time. Thus scientists concluded that this virus caused dinosaurs’ extinction — the event known as Cretaceous-Tertiary — and would be the cause of humanity’s extinction, too. I thought to myself (still in my dream), Okay, this thing is too big to fight, so best to enjoy myself while I can, out in the sunshine hopefully prolonging my life with Vitamin D. Then I went on to dream about a rather fine Jaguar convertible sports car.
Isn’t the mind great? I realised the drilling part of my dream originated from the fact that several oil drillers had started following me on Instagram, despite my profile making it clear that I am into conservation and nature. Of course, if you’re into eco stuff, you’re bound to think about extinction quite a lot, so the dinosaur theme is a logical extension of this. As for the car, I have long held the mistaken belief that oil comes from dead dinosaurs: however, since my dream, I have discovered it comes from decayed marine organisms. Never too late to learn!
Has anyone else had any Covid-related dreams they would like to share?