Late last year, I was given a lovely gift, 'Seasons', a compilation of poetry and prose charting the changing year from a natural history viewpoint. The pieces chosen spanned several hundred years, from the 1400s right up to 2016, and with a broad range of styles.
Some authors' work I was already familiar with, including Gilbert White, Amy Liptrot, Roger Deakin, John Clare and Mark Cocker. However, I hoped that the collection would also signpost the books of authors with whom I was unfamiliar. In this respect, I was not disappointed.
The first piece to grab my interest was from Olivia Laing's 'To The River'. It is the story of the author's journey on foot from source to sea of the River Ouse in Sussex, the river in which Virginia Woolf drowned in 1941. The intertwining threads of literature, nature and a personal journey were woven with a sensitivity that appealed to me.
A very different book of nature writing was Neil Ansell's 'Deep Country'. Here, the author lived for five years in a remote cottage, with no transport and no phone, documenting the wildlife and landscapes he experienced. For me, the time he took watching animal behaviour provided some fascinating insights, as can only be gained by long term study in the field.
I would recommend both books unreservedly, the actual volumes more than living up to the promise of the small samples from the 'Seasons' compilation.