#BookReview The Bumblebee Flies Anyway; A year of gardening and wildlife by KATE BRADBURY @chiffchat

ABOUT THE BOOK

Finding herself in a new home in Brighton, Kate Bradbury sets about transforming her decked, barren backyard into a beautiful wildlife garden. She documents the unbuttoning of the earth and the rebirth of the garden, the rewilding of a tiny urban space. On her own she unscrews, saws, and hammers the decking away, she clears the builders’ rubble and rubbish beneath it, and she digs and enriches the soil, gradually planting it up with plants she knows will attract wildlife. She erects bird boxes and bee hotels, hangs feeders and grows nectar- and pollen-rich plants, and slowly brings life back to the garden.

But while she’s doing this her neighbors continue to pave and deck their gardens. The wildlife she tries to save is further threatened, and she feels she’s fighting an uphill battle. Is there any point in gardening for wildlife when everyone else is drowning the land in poison and cement?

Throughout her story, Kate draws on an eclectic and eccentric cast of friends and colleagues, who donate plants and a greenhouse, tolerate her gawping at butterflies at Gay Pride, and accompany her on trips to visit rare bumblebees and nightingales.

Published by Bloomsbury Wildlife

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK
 hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

What a wonderful little book! As a keen gardener and wildlife lover, I’m probably the target audience I’m sure for a book written by someone who looks on their garden as more than an ‘outdoor living room’ or as a space to be ignored or paved over as is the trend nowadays, but this gem of a book perfectly explains just how important a little green space is to the owner and to the wildlife of the local area. From a tiny bee moving into a bee hotel, to the flock of sparrows enjoying the safety of a buddleia bush, this book left me itching to get even more involved with my garden and to do more to attract more wildlife.

Her memories of gardens she has spent time in over the years, especially with her family, are wonderfully told and had me remembering special times I have spent with grandparents and my parents who thankfully have always been fans of green spaces.

As a passionate amateur garden I totally ‘got’ this book – it understands just how you feel about your little patch of the world and the despair you feel when you see trees and shrubs being destroyed in the neighbourhood and surrounding areas. Through gardening it allows you to look back fondly at times spent out there, but also has you looking forward in ways you can help to attract more bees, birds and bugs to your garden. I recently saw this author present a piece on Gardeners World and her enthusiasm for bees especially had me wanting to rush out and buy a bee hotel or two, and that enthusiasm is clear for all to see in this book.

She looks back on tough times too, especially with her mother becoming unwell, and shows the importance of a garden on helping them both cope during that time. It’s a great distraction to sit out there with a cup of tea and toast and just to watch and see what is going on and let your mind wander!

It’s also fascinating to read the impact of humans are having on the ways of wildlife – habitats being destroyed and species disappearing and has just made me more determined to do my little bit, and hopefully it will encourage new gardeners to do the same and make people realise that whether they have a windowbox or a garden, there are things that can be done to help native wildlife.

I adored this book and highly recommend it as a memoir and as a book full of ideas and inspiration to help us all do our bit!

★★★★★

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#BlogTour The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell #BookReview @OMaraBooks #TheWildRemedy

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the wonderful Blog Tour for THE WILD REMEDY by EMMA MITCHELL.  My thanks to the author and Alara at Michael O’Mara Books for letting me be part of it all.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Emma Mitchell has suffered with depression – or as she calls it, ‘the grey slug’ – for twenty-five years. In 2003, she moved from the city to the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens and began to take walks in the countryside around her new home, photographing, collecting and drawing as she went. Each walk lifted her mood, proving to be as medicinal as any talking therapy or pharmaceutical.
In Emma’s hand-illustrated diary, she takes us with her as she follows the paths and trails around her cottage and further afield, sharing her nature finds and tracking the lives of local flora and fauna over the course of a year. Reflecting on how these encounters impact her mood, Emma’s moving and candid account of her own struggles is a powerful testament to how reconnecting with nature may offer some answers to today’s mental health epidemic. While charting her own seasonal highs and lows, she also explains the science behind such changes, calling on new research into such areas as forest bathing and the ways in which our bodies and minds respond to plants and wildlife when we venture outdoors.
Written with Emma’s characteristic wit and frankness, and filled with her beautiful drawings, paintings and photography, this is a truly unique book for anyone who has ever felt drawn to nature and wondered about its influence over us.

Published by Michael O’Mara Books

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

Author Website

MY REVIEW

This is one of those books that not only looks good – it’s packed full of beautiful drawings and photos – but it’s also a wonderful reminder of what is around us all if we just take the time to look.  You don’t need to travel far to see something, or even just to hear the sound of bird song in your back garden, it all works in a way to help detract our minds from the negative aspects of life and can set us back on  a more positive outlook on life no matter what we are going through in our personal lives.

I really connected with this book through the positive aspect that I’ve discovered of gardening and nature while I’ve suffer with the illness M.E.  It is a very isolating and lonely illness at times, and there are many days when, like the author with her depression, leaving the house is impossible or a major struggle and just by spending a few minutes out in the garden looking at new things growing, or hearing the birds sing can make such a big impact on your frame of mind for the rest of the day and make those darker days seem just a little bit brighter.  Having something different to focus on instead of concentrating on what your brain is telling you is so powerful and often better than any medicine you can take, and I’m truly grateful for all things green everyday now, especially when the world we live in is seemingly becoming more grey and full of concrete.

In this book, the author takes us through her diary month by month to share her honest and frank experiences of how the depression affects her way of life and the way she thinks, and how each month she notices different things around her in nature which she draws, collects, takes photos of – it’s the little things in life that give you hope and clarity and she shows  how much the importance of noticing the smallest things can give the biggest amount of joy.  I loved the touches of humour too that she puts in – and the importance of Annie, her canine companion, in getting her out of the house when it all feels too much.

I’ve always taken photos of things around me that I see, but this book has inspired me to notice more and also start collecting leaves and flowers to press to keep an even more satisfying record of the world around us to help lift my spirits on the darker days when I’m unable to get out and about and this book is a beautiful reminder of how something as simple as birdsong, or the first signs of Spring can be so rewarding and a real benefit to your mental well-being and I highly recommend it as a must have on any bookshelf

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Things to look out for……

#BookReview The Long Spring by Laurence Rose #nonfiction

About the book

Exploring the wildlife, places, traditions, culture, and personalities associated with spring throughout Europe, and introducing readers to cultural, scientific, and historical research and his recollections of 30 years of continental travel, Laurence Rose paints a vivid picture of one of the world’s most significant and beautiful natural phenomena: spring.

Laurence begins his journey in the first week of February, arriving in southern Spain with the storks that herald the beginning of Europe’s spring on San Blas Day. Swallows, cranes and, later on, wild swans are his constant companions as he journeys his way north through Spain, France, and the UK, eventually crossing over to Sweden, Finland, and Norway before finally reaching the Arctic Circle four months later.

While on the road, Laurence follows live data from satellites tracking birds as well as other indicators of spring. Throughout his travels, he meets people living closely with nature. He also encounters new behaviours, such as cranes wintering in France, and explores how they link to climate change.

The further north he travels, the more unpredictable the events of spring become. At the end of his journey, Laurence reflects on what he has learned, as the long Arctic days stretch out into 24 hours of daylight. 

Published by Bloomsbury Natural History

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £12.99

waterstones  £16.99

Bloomsbury  £15.29

MY REVIEW

All the I’s for this one – Informative, Interesting and Insightful! – and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time immersed in this book as the Author followed the journey of many birds from Africa to Europe, sharing his thoughts on what he sees and what he learns along the way, and really gives you a greater understanding of the amazing journey these birds endure each year as they work their way through Africa, Spain, France, UK, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

With the Author visiting each country along the way you get a real sense of the conditions they face through each leg and also how the landscapes have changed over the years as he has visited many of the countries over a number of years through his own interest and work he has been involved with for the RSPB. He gives a great background to the history of places he visits, along with damaging accounts of how enviromental disasters over the years have afffected different species and their habitats, and it is abundantly clear just how passionate he is about birds, wildlife and the planet in general.

I loved hearing mentions of the birds that I’m lucky to get to see when they pass through the UK, such as the Egrets and Geese in Leigh On Sea, and Blackcaps in my back garden and that really helped me connect more with this book. He also says how important that ringing and satellite tracking has been in helping over the years in plotting the birds and their journeys and how that never used to happen.

His journey allows him to meet numerous ‘birdy’ folk along the way and it’s inspiring to know that there are so many people out there who are doing all they can to help protect many species, especially in a world nowadays where a lot of young people spend less time outdoors and don’t seem able to connect to the world of nature as maybe we did in the past. 

It’s written in a very relentless fashion, in diary form, sharing details from each stop along the way of birds he sees and other forms of wildlife too. I would have loved to see photos or more illustrations but am thankful for internet searches to illustrate for me certain bird species so I could get to enjoy some bird watching of my own, and it has definitely made me aware of different species that I can now hopefully look out for. A really enlightening read for all nature lovers.

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The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel – book review

THE BLURB

From the Winner of the Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015

Traditional ploughland is disappearing. Seven cornfield flowers have become extinct in the last twenty years. Once abundant, the corn bunting and the lapwing are on the Red List. The corncrake is all but extinct in England. And the hare is running for its life.

Written in exquisite prose, The Running Hare tells the story of the wild animals and plants that live in and under our ploughland, from the labouring microbes to the patrolling kestrel above the corn, from the linnet pecking at seeds to the seven-spot ladybird that eats the aphids that eat the crop. It recalls an era before open-roofed factories and silent, empty fields, recording the ongoing destruction of the unique, fragile, glorious ploughland that exists just down the village lane.

But it is also the story of ploughland through the eyes of man who took on a field and husbanded it in a natural, traditional way, restoring its fertility and wildlife, bringing back the old farmland flowers and animals. John Lewis Stempel demonstrates thta it is still possible to create a place where the hare can rest safe.

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This was a fascinating and delightful read of one mans’ vision and journey in reclaiming some farmland to return it to the ways of old, along with the wildlife and wildflowers that this brings along with it.

It is beautifully written with such passion that it often made me angry – not at the book but at the way mankind looks at nature nowadays, just trying to find the easiest and quickest way of producing things, without any thought to the damage that does in the long term. We seem to have forgotten to embrace nature that has sustained humanity since the year dot and then wonder why wildlife and wildflowers are disappearing at astonishingly high rates.

There’s a wide variety of wildlife featured, alongside old farming techniques and wonderful background history and information in many forms. 

It was horrifying reading at times with lists of plants lost to the British countryside thanks to different farming techniques, but also heartwarming to see how just one man full of determination proved that by going back to the old techniques he could show that it wouldn’t take much to reintroduce the balance back into fields across the country – it just takes some effort!

I’d highly recommend this as a book to read for all as it is a fascinating insight into nature and the modern world and it is a lesson that needs to be learned before it is too late!