Newsletter No. 4: ‘Paint to pufferfish’

Rich Text newsletter masthead

24 MARCH 2017


I think it was Tennyson who observed that in the Spring a middle-aged man’s fancy rashly turns to thoughts of decorating. Or something like that. Which might explain why the last month or so has been spent not so much getting stuff out there, as scraping stuff off there, and daubing paint up there.

Sistine Chapel
Yours truly applying a few finishing touches to the guest room ceiling.

Spring has finally sprung, here in the West Yorkshire Pennines: the garden daffs are out; lapwings are tumbling and whooping above the fields once more; and the fake curlew-calls of a talented local starling have been replaced by the Real McCoy. I’m already starting to get jittery about seeing my first wheatears and swallows of the year.

Since the previous newsletter went out, I exhibited some of my local bridges photos at a Caught by the River event in Hebden Bridge. Afterwards, I wrote a few thoughts about the experience.


Some stuff I thought worth sharing:

  1. Is Travel Writing Dead? asks Robert Macfarlane.
  2. Hilary Mantel reviews a new biography about a woman I’d never heard of: the Tudor countess Margaret Pole. Sounds like quite a character.
  3. I had a quick chat with Caught by the River Poet in Residence Martha Sprackland at the Hebden Bridge event. One of her poems that I particularly enjoyed was called Snail.
  4. Claire Eamer investigates the importance of Viking wool.
  5. Christian Jarrett has been researching my hero Charles Darwin’s reading habits.
  6. Palaeoanthropologist John Hawks describes the vast amount of evidence we now have of human evolution.
  7. A Brazilian grandmother has been praying to Elrond from The Lord of the Rings, having mistaken a figurine of the pointy-eared, half-elf for St Anthony. It could happen to anyone.
  8. Every year, I half-heartedly resolve to take up drawing. I’m pretty hopeless at it, but it strikes me as an excellent way to learn to observe more closely. Perhaps this year. Ben Brignell seems to have the right idea: he has been falling back in love with sketching.
  9. Talking of drawing, Amy L. Tigner has been having a go at making ink.
  10. Keziah Weir has written an interesting profile of American writer, feminist, and activist Rebecca Solnit.
  11. Scientists have shown that distantly related insectivorous plants have independently evolved the same solution for digesting their prey.
  12. My friend GrrlScientist describes a study to resolve a question most of us would never have even thought to ask: do pufferfish hold their breath when inflated?

Shameless plugs

Some stuff I managed to get out there since my last newsletter (during the rare moments I wasn’t stuck up a stepladder, that is):

From paint to pufferfish: name a more eclectic newsletter, I challenge you!

Feel free to contact me with any feedback. And please forward this newsletter to any friends you think might enjoy it, urging them to subscribe, if for no better reason than it will make me happy.

Right, that’s quite enough of this malarkey. Those walls aren’t going to paint themselves.


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