Posts tagged #bookshops

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading List –2015

Summer Reading List –2015

It’s heartwarming, striding into a small, high street bookshop anywhere in the UK and finding whole shelves devoted to nature writing; even my home town’s WHSmith’s carries a selection of Robert Macfarlane’s titles. I’m not sure if more people are writing about nature or if the UK public are finally taking notice and they are getting the shelf space they deserve. Either way it feels like a nature writing renaissance, with the likes of Roger Deakin, Richard Mabey, Macfarlane and Caught By The River paving the way. I find it hard to track down these books, and books with the same sensibility in US bookstores. 

On a recent trip to the UK I couldn’t help stocking up on books, and blowing most of my luggage allowance getting them back to USA, the fruits of my labor are below, with their Amazon descriptions.

Feral - George Monbiot
How many of us sometimes feel that we are scratching at the walls of this life, seeking to find our way into a wider space beyond? That our mild, polite existence sometimes seems to crush the breath out of us? Feral is the lyrical and gripping story of George Monbiot's efforts to re-engage with nature and discover a new way of living. He shows how, by restoring and rewilding our damaged ecosystems on land and at sea, we can bring wonder back into our lives. Making use of some remarkable scientific discoveries, Feral lays out a new, positive environmentalism, in which nature is allowed to find its own way. Get a copy here.

Notes from Walnut Tree Farm – Roger Deakin
Notes from Walnut Tree Farm is a collection of writing by Roger Deakin For the last six years of his life, Roger Deakin kept notebooks in which he wrote his daily thoughts, impressions, feelings and observations about and around his home, Walnut Tree Farm. Collected here are the very best of these writings, capturing his extraordinary, restless curiosity about nature as well as his impressions of our changing world. Get a copy here.

Caught By The River - A Collection of Words on Water
From the Thames to the Telford, the Wear to the Wellsbourne; from canoe adventures to ice-skating, from angling to day-dreaming, "Caught by the River" is an exceptional new take on nature writing. Here, the writers take you on a journey down some of our most famous waterways and some of its best kept secrets. Funny, surprising, delightful and poignant, they all share one thing - a passion for the rivers of Britain and Ireland. The result is a uniquely modern take on an age old writing tradition - a rock 'n' rock nature book ever. The authors, many acclaimed and the rest soon to be, each contribute to a collection of writing as varied and unexpected as the rivers themselves.This evocative anthology of the best new nature writing is presented in a collection of essays on some of our favourite rivers, covering the entire length of the country. Get a copy here.

The Moor – William Atkins
In this deeply personal journey across our nation's most forbidding and most mysterious terrain, William Atkins takes the reader from south to north, in search of the heart of this elusive landscape. His account is both travelogue and natural history, and an exploration of moorland's uniquely captivating position in our literature, history and psyche. Atkins may be a solitary wanderer across these vast expanses, but his journey is full of encounters, busy with the voices of the moors, past and present: murderers and monks, smugglers and priests, gamekeepers and ramblers, miners and poets, developers and environmentalists. Get a copy here.

Rising Ground – Philip Marsden
Why do we react so strongly to certain places? Why do layers of mythology build up around particular features in the landscape? When Philip Marsden moved to a remote creekside farmhouse in Cornwall, the intensity of his response took him aback. It led him to begin exploring these questions, prompting a journey westwards to Land's End through one of the most fascinating regions of Europe. Get a copy here.

Wanderlust - A History of Walking – Rebecca Solnit
Drawing together many histories-of anatomical evolution and city design, of treadmills and labyrinths, of walking clubs and sexual mores-Rebecca Solnit creates a fascinating portrait of the range of possibilities presented by walking. Arguing that the history of walking includes walking for pleasure as well as for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit focuses on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from philosophers to poets to mountaineers. She profiles some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction-from Wordsworth to Gary Snyder, from Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet to Andre Breton's Nadja-finding a profound relationship between walking and thinking and walking and culture. Solnit argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in our ever more car-dependent and accelerated world. Get a copy here.

Meadowland – John Lewis-Stempel
Meadowland gives an unique and intimate account of an English meadow’s life from January to December, together with its biography. In exquisite prose, John Lewis-Stempel records the passage of the seasons from cowslips in spring to the hay-cutting of summer and grazing in autumn, and includes the biographies of the animals that inhabit the grass and the soil beneath: the badger clan, the fox family, the rabbit warren,the skylark brood and the curlew pair, among others. Their births, lives, and deaths are stories that thread through the book from first page to last. Get a copy here.

A Brush with Nature – Richard Mabey
Described as 'Britain's greatest living nature writer', Richard Mabey has revealed his passion for the natural world in eloquent stories for BBC Wildlife Magazine. This volume features his favourite pieces and presents a fascinating and inspiring view of the changing natural landscape in which we live. Get a copy here.

I hope this inspires some reading, I certainly have a lots to do. If anyone has suggestions for books or authors from the USA that I should be reading please let me know. 

London

London

London

Yes London. Although I'm a country boy at heart, at times I find myself in the big smoke and to me, there is no other city I would rather be in. A long time ago, when I was fresh faced and bright eyed about the world I spent a few years working hard in London, and it still has a very special place in my heart. I thought I'd try and highlight a few of my absolute favorite destinations in London and prove that there is a ton of VHD fodder to be found in the city.

Rule's Restaurant

Rule's Restaurant Picture By Herry Lawford

Rule's Restaurant Picture By Herry Lawford

If I'm ever asked about places to eat in London my first suggestion is always Rules, London's oldest restaurant. Opened by Thomas Rule in 1798 it has served the finest British cuisine to a captive audience in London's Covent Garden ever since. Imagine, if you will, a wood paneled living room festooned with hunting trophies, oil painting and imperial memorabilia. An ever changing menu of seasonal game, sourced from its own country estate, is prepared by 35 chefs fronted by David Stafford. Dining here you join such prestigious alumni as Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Galsworthy and H.G Wells. Nowhere else will you get such a distinct display of fine British cuisine. I highly recommend the venison cottage pie.

Parks and Trees

A great London Plane in Berkeley Square Gardens

A great London Plane in Berkeley Square Gardens

London is truly a city of parks; it has over 25,000 acres of green, all designed to be strolled through and enjoyed. This trip however I came armed, on mission if you will. I had picked up a copy of "Great Trees of London" (yes, there is such a book)  and this great book (published by "The Lonely Planet" in conjunction with "Trees for Cities") took me into new parts of London; to secret squares, nooks and crannies in the hunt for trees of note. There were some amazing specimens but also, unfortunately, one that is no longer there. The St James's Church Catalpa tree on Piccadilly was cut down in 2012 - I just missed it. After it was felled the pieces were carved by artist Clinton Chaloner into the church's nativity. So it still lives on in one form or another, although I would prefer if it still were alive.

Pubs

The Grapes

The Grapes

There are over 7,000 pubs in London, of varying qualities I must admit, but the good ones are real gems. On this trip I naturally visited quite a few but my favorite was The Grapes in Limehouse. This wonderful pub was my lunch spot while I was walking the Thames Path between Greenwich and London Bridge and was well worth the stop. The Grapes opened its doors in 1583 and has played an important part in the history of Limehouse, an area frequented by the likes of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, Edward Wolfe and Charles Dickens. It is believed that Dickens even made mention of the pub in “Our Mutual Friend”

A tavern of dropsical appearance … long settled down into a state of hale infirmity. It had outlasted many a sprucer public house, indeed the whole house impended over the water but seemed to have got into the condition of a faint-hearted diver, who has paused so long on the brink that he will never go in at all.
— Charles Dickens - Our Mutual Friends, 1864–65

The pub has a friendly, local atmosphere, it smells of old wood and history and I'm glad to say it was bustling when I went in. The bangers and mash were delicious as well as the ales that washed them down, the co-lease holder, Sir Ian McKellen was not around but there was a rather cool Gandalph model in the back parlour overlooking the Thames, along with a complete set of Dickens' work. 

Bookshops

I'm pretty much in my element when surrounded by stacks of old, dusty books. One of my favorite London activities is to simply stroll down Charing Cross Road and duck into all of the amazing book shops. Some are real collector, antique type stores, some are bargain basement places but they all have a nostalgic atmosphere. They also pay heavy dividends if you are willing to put in a little work. Checkout "Quinto & Francis Edwards Bookshop", "Henry Pordes Books"," Any Amount of Books" and, of course, "Foyle's". Foyle's has been selling books for a long time. They stock mainly new books but also have a few second hand, either way they must have exceptional buyers as it's always stocked with a great selection. Their travel section is particularly spectacular.

Markets

A little something picked up from Arcadia

A little something picked up from Arcadia

Whatever you're looking for London most likely has a market for it and this trip my destination this time was Spitalfields on a Thursday. In the main, old hall they have an excellent antiques and knick-knacks market. It might not be the biggest market but the quality and selection is exceptional. Be sure to swing by Andrews of Arcadia for all your fishing needs.

And there we have it, this is very much my own, very concise list and may not be for everyone. I have hardly scratched the surface of London itself, I'd love to talk about museums, galleries, monuments and go deeper into pubs, restaurants and history but this is already a monster post, so that might just have to wait for my next visit.

Posted on May 7, 2013 and filed under VHD.