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.
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are tumbling and whooping above the fields once more; and the fake curlew-calls of a talented local starling have been replaced by the Real McCoy.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.
Some stuff I thought worth sharing:
- Is Travel Writing Dead? asks Robert Macfarlane.
- Hilary Mantel reviews a new biography about a woman I’d never heard of: the Tudor countess Margaret Pole. Sounds like quite a character.
- 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.
- Claire Eamer investigates the importance of Viking wool.
- Christian Jarrett has been researching my hero Charles Darwin’s reading habits.
- Palaeoanthropologist John Hawks describes the vast amount of evidence we now have of human evolution.
- 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.
- 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.
- Talking of drawing, Amy L. Tigner has been having a go at making ink.
- Keziah Weir has written an interesting profile of American writer, feminist, and activist Rebecca Solnit.
- Scientists have shown that distantly related insectivorous plants have independently evolved the same solution for digesting their prey.
- 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?
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):
- a book review of Nicholas Crane’s The Making of the British Landscape;
- a book review of Julian Glover’s new biography of Thomas Telford: Man of Iron;
- to mark Charles Darwin’s 208th birthday, I revised the answer to the most popular Frequently Asked Question on my Friends of Charles Darwin website: If humans evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?
- an article about my recent photo-trip to the Welsh side of the Dee Marshes.
From paint to pufferfish: name a more eclectic newsletter, I challenge you!
Right, that’s quite enough of this malarkey. Those walls aren’t going to paint themselves.