Book of the month: Claxton

Book of the month: Claxton

©Jonathan Gibbs, from Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet by Mark Cocker Nature writer, bird obsessive and Buxton boy Mark Cocker has recently been appointed Ambassador for Friends of the Peak District, a role that should present few problems for someone so passionate about the landscapes and wildlife of his childhood. Mark no longer [...]

Book of the Month: A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Book of the Month: A Child’s Christmas in Wales

There are the Christmas classics that are known and loved from birth, then there are classics that are happened upon later in life and cherished all the more for it. I'm sure Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales falls into the first category for many, but this short story written in that familiar Thomas lilt has been an unexpected treat for me this year – a wide-eyed, rosy-cheeked, mischievous memory of a childhood Christmas. And, of course, never-seen-again, epic tales of snow [...]

Book of the month: The art of fire

Book of the month: The art of fire

At the risk of sounding horribly environmentally unfriendly, I'm loving the pervading smell of bonfires and chimney smoke that starts wafting down the valley at this time of year. Edalians are a hardy bunch and most would eschew central heating in favour of a glowing, spitting, crackling fire in the corner of the room to keep warm. Wood is collected and stored with unspoken art and village children grow up accustomed to the joys and dangers of this new, seasonal member of the household. Ample compensation for the loss of leaves and the darkening of the days outside [...]

A 21st Century Yokel

A 21st Century Yokel

I'm eagerly awaiting the new book by one of my favourite writers Tom Cox. 21st Century Yokel is out next week and will no doubt cement Tom as one of the nation's best (and funniest) collector of tales from the British landscape. The promise of a new book has led me back to Tom's website and some of his past writing. As the temperatures plummet here in the valley and I've just seen the first Christmas advert of the year on the television(!), I was drawn to a piece entitled One Winter. I love it and hope Tom won't mind me including an excerpt on this blog [...]

Deer and the (former) Derbyshire Laureate

Deer and the (former) Derbyshire Laureate

For a relatively compact city, Sheffield – our closest metropolis – is a hive of culture, creativity and composition. Over the last month, Sheffield's curious minds have been soothed by Off the Shelf, one of the UK's largest literary festivals, as writers, poets and thinkers have been spouting forth in various venues across the city. Acclaimed poet and one of Sheffield's own, Helen Mort, took to the stage alongside Stuart Maconie at The Leadmill last week with the pair's 'poetry pub crawl' – a collection of contemporary poetry celebrating the nation's favourite sanctuary. [...]

More landscape and language

More landscape and language

Thanks to Robert MacFarlane and his attempts to keep the vocabulary of nature vital and accessible to all (see previous blog post), I've been learning new words that describe succinctly some of the wonders of the valley. My favourite has to be rionnach maoim, an old Gaelic expression meaning the fleeting shadows of the clouds as they scud across moorland. It's such a precise distillation of something so beautiful, but there is huge pleasure to be had in knowing that the moving picture show I see playing across the sides of the valley has been loved enough by others to have been given its own name. [...]

Book of the Month: The Lost Words

Book of the Month: The Lost Words

Naturalist and writer Robert MacFarlane is not only a champion of nature, but a committed hoarder and conserver of natural language – the language of landscape. His latest book, and our Book of the Month, is The Lost Words, a beautiful collection of wild plants and animals whose names have been unceremoniously dropped in recent [...]