Newsletter No. 16: ‘Snippets of nature writing’

Rich Text newsletter masthead

7TH JUNE 2019


I appreciate I promote this as an ‘occasional’ newsletter, but a six-month gap borders on a hiatus.

My planned Darwin book is progressing slowly. Very slowly. But it is progressing, which is the main thing.

In my previous newsletter, I explained I’d been writing regular ‘sideline’ pieces to keep my juices flowing. They’re mostly snippets of nature writing. I finally decided to publish them in a new Sidelines section on my website. Although I swear blind my Sidelines aren’t diary entries, if you’d like to read through them through in chronological order, as if they were diary entries, here are my 2018 Sidelines and 2019 Sidelines.

Some stuff I thought worth sharing:

  1. My friend Julian Hoffman’s four-part series exploring the history, biodiversity, cultural traditions and associated bird and human migrations of the traditional salt pans of Southern Spain and Morocco: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4.
    Julian’s book Irreplaceable will be published on 27th June. It’s available for pre-order.
  2. (Audio) Landscape painter Norman Ackroyd meets Robert Macfarlane, landscape writer. Two nice chaps talking shop.
  3. Amy Liptrot’s short piece about breastfeeding, Mother Animal. A wonderful example of left-field nature writing.
  4. Pippa Marland of Land Lines’ interview with Jon Woolcott of Little Toller, the marvellous, Dorset-based nature writing publishers.
  5. Katherine Rundell’s fascinating piece on a remarkable creature I’d never heard of, the golden mole.
  6. When I studied physics at university, it was seen as an embarrassment that the kilogram was still defined by something as crude as a 100-year-old lump of metal locked away in a vault in Paris. Finally, at an ‘emotional’ international conference, the kilogram has been redefined.
  7. (Audio) Every so often, BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time seeks listener suggestions for topics to be covered. I invariably suggest Sir Thomas Browne (a name which should be familiar to anyone who’s read my book On the Moor). I was, therefore, delighted to catch their recent programme on Sir Thomas Browne.

Recent Reading

More soon

Now I’ve got back into the swing of this newsletter malarkey, expect more (occasional) updates soon.


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  1. Myra Barrs avatar
    Myra Barrs

    I just want to thank you for your book On The Moor. I’m just over half way through and I’m learning so much up there on the moor. My brother used to live in Hebden Bridge so I know it, a bit. But I’m completely absorbed in the life of the moor as you tell it, with such everyday erudition. Thank you!

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