The Hedgerows Heaped with May: The Telegraph Book of the Countryside
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An exploration of everything the countryside means to us, from a hundred years of the Telegraph's archive. The Telegraph is, as its former editor Max Hastings identified, more than any other national broadsheet the newspaper of the countryside, which over the years has been written about in its pages by such distinguished writers as J.H.B. Peel, John Betjeman and W.F. Deedes, alongside eminent modern naturalists like Richard Mabey and even unlikely proponents of the rural life like Boris Johnson. This anthology is no bland celebration of bucolic idyll, but rather an exploration of everything that the countryside represents to the British. For some it means the reintroduction of long-lost wildlife such as the red kite, or ancient crafts like thatching. For others it means jouncing along a green lane in a four-wheel-drive Range Rover. To the Prince of Wales, his new town of Poundbury is the countryside while subjects as diverse as crop circles, second homes, Mad Cow Disease and polytunnels are all flashpoints in the modern debate about what, and who, the countryside is for. Hugely varied, by turns funny and provocative, this is an essential exploration of a central aspect of our national identity.
don’t want any movement in the country. They want to ossify it, crystalise it or preserve it in aspic. They want their picture postcard there for immortality. What we need is compromise and being able to learn from one another.’ Raffaella Barker, the novelist, agrees. She and her family moved from London to Norfolk six years ago. ‘You learn to love Wellington boots in the country and if you can’t hack that then you shouldn’t even try it,’ she says. ‘You can’t go poncing around saying you want
for the Gulls Peter Marren Amorous Birdwatchers Get Back to Nature Tougher Than Ever on the Wildlife Beat Maureen Paton Obituary of Maurice Burton Nature Note: Hares and Science Robert Burton Nature Note: Mole Robert Burton Nature Note: Weasel Robert Burton Beware the Devil’s Darning Needle Peter Marren Letters to the Editor: Painted Ladies ‘Miss, Are They Pigs?’ Clive Aslet Country Diary Robin Page A World of Natural Wonder Stephen Moss Birds: Now for the Good News . . . Malcolm
Big Freeze John Lister-Kaye It is winter in the Highlands. In the marsh and the trackside ditch, in the loch’s peaty mires, in the pinewood, the pulses of life have slowed and stilled. The nature of the Highlands has shut up shop; the signs have all come down. It is winter. The bugs and weevils are hiding now, the worms, the millipedes, the caterpillars and leatherjackets, the frog and the toad, adder, slow worm, wood mouse and vole, the squirrel, the hedgehog and the fat snoring badger are
us as we cut across clay flats, while the Parrett meandered away in a huge curve. By the time we rejoined the river, the air was full of screaming gulls. The Parrett looked a major waterway now. Exposed mud banks had cracked and fissured into crocodile shapes. The Old Ship Inn at Combwich did us proud with tangy cider. Patrick, the barman, who was having his head and beard shaved for charity that night, pointed us along the headland for our final lap. Farmhouses at Steart have their backs to
a field on a fine day in Leicestershire. And it was exceptionally white, even for an Iceland gull, indicating, according to my trusty Collins field guide, that it was a young bird that had lost its mother and had wandered hopelessly off course on the way to Reykjavik. That would also explain why it was just sitting there, staring into space. This was one sad gull. It didn’t move as I walked up, which wasn’t surprising because by then I could see that my Iceland gull was actually a milk bottle.