#AudioBookReview ON THE MARSH by SIMON BARNES #BookReview



ABOUT THE BOOK


How the rewilding of eight acres of Norfolk marshland inspired a family and brought nature even closer to home.

When writer Simon Barnes heard a Cetti’s warbler sing out as he turned up to look at a house for sale, he knew immediately that he had found his new home. The fact that his garden backed onto an area of marshy land only increased the possibilities, but there was always the fear that it might end up in the wrong hands and be lost to development or intensive farming. His wife saw through the delicate negotiations for the purchase. Once they’d bought it, they began to manage it as a conservation area, working with the Wildlife Trust to ensure it became as appealing as possible to all species. For their son Eddie, who has Down’s syndrome, it became a place of calm and inspiration.

In Wildness and Wet, we see how nature can always bring surprises, and share in the triumphs as new animals – Chinese water deer, otters and hedgehogs – arrive, and watch as the number of species of bird tops 100 and keeps on growing. As the seasons go by, there are moments of triumph when not one but two marsh harrier families use the marsh as a hunting ground, but also disappointments as chemical run-off from neighbouring farmland creates a nettles monoculture in newly turned earth.

For anyone who enjoyed books such as Meadowland, or the writing of Stephen Moss, Roger Deakin or Adam Nicolson, this is a vivid and beautifully written account of the wonders that can sometimes be found on our doorsteps, and how nature can transform us all.


PUBLISHED BY  SIMON & SCHUSTER

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audioversion of this book.

This was such a lovely listen. One of those books that transports you away and helps you look at the wonders of nature through the eyes of someone with a deep passion for wildlife and the conservation of his local area.

The author lives by a marsh, so when a larger plot of marsh was available to buy he jumped at the chance and this book is an ode to the natural world, and how he and his family have worked to keep this area as wild as possible for the benefit of the local wildlife, and their own enjoyment.

Their son has down’s syndrome so he also shares his experiences of how that changes his outlook and how his son thrives with the connection of the birds and animals surrounding them and it was really touching to see his compassion for the surrounding wildlife.

The author explores the local sights and sounds that he and his family are lucky to see and hear, along with comments on how many humans are seemingly hellbent on the destruction of these natural areas and the devastating consequences that these have on the wildlife.

It’s such a gentle and pleasant book, that helps to share the pleasure in spotting the little things that go on around you and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole relaxing and immersive experience of their story shared.

★★★★

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#BookReview THE OTTERS’ TALE by SIMON COOPER #20BooksOfSummer20

ABOUT THE BOOK

Otters hold an almost unique place in the animal kingdom of the British Isles, being one of the very few creatures that give birth once every two years. They are the most secretive yet also the most popular mammals – they are found in every county but are so rarely seen that they have been raised to mythical status.
When Simon Cooper bought an abandoned water mill that straddles a small chalkstream in southern England, little did he know that he would come to share the mill with a family of wild otters. Yet move in they did, allowing him to begin to observe them, soon immersing himself in their daily routines and movements. He developed an extraordinary close relationship with the family, which in turn gave him a unique insight into the life of these fascinating creatures.
Cooper interweaves the personal story of the female otter, Kuschta, with the natural history of the otter in the British Isles, only recently brought back from the brink of extinction through tireless conservation efforts. Following in the footsteps of Henry Williamson’s classic 1920s tale Tarka the Otter, readers are taken on a journey through the calendar year, learning the most intimate detail of this most beautiful of British mammals. Cooper brings these beloved animals to life in all their wondrous complexity, revealing the previously hidden secrets of their lives in this beautifully told tale of the otter. 
PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM COLLINS


MY REVIEW


This is Book 10 of my 20 Books Of Summer 2020


What a lovely endearing and insightful book!

Full of everything you ever wanted to know about otters, and an awful lot more!, this is a beautifully written book of the observations of Simon Cooper who was lucky enough to live so close to the otters when he bought an abandoned watermill. He watches the family flourish and has artistic licence with his imaginings of family life amongst the otters, and it’s just charming! Watching the mother otter Kuschta, her behaviour and the way she raises the pups really gets you to understand their way of life.

I learnt so much from this book – how the otters have adapted to changes in their habitats over the years, the family dynamics and the dangers they face on a daily basis – none more so than now with human encroachment on the places they use to live and hunt.

This book left me with nothing but respect for these secretive but resilient creatures. The author and his magical descriptions of otter life were wonderful!


★★★★