Updated: Dec 10, 2022
Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when we all do our bit for economic growth. The time when we chip in a little extra for landfill waste. Yes, the pagan festival that was adopted by the Christians and adapted (from green to red by Coca-Cola). You are supposed to go out and spend unwisely.
I did wander around Conwy the other day. There are some absolutely lovely independent retailers there now and I really do wish them well. Prices are, as you know, high and the impact on small business is significant. We’ve sort of stopped buying presents in our house now. The thing is, if anybody wants something they just buy it either locally where we can or online and get it delivered. I do fear for the future of local shops. I went to three to get a 1.5 litres coffee cafeteria to use on next years’ workshops. Of course none of them stocked such a thing. A large online retailer was able to send me one straight away. How on Earth can the local shops compete with that?
Anyway, what will you be buying this year? I always recommend books. I like books. I know it's a forlorn conversation with some of you, but every year I try to tempt some of you non-readers back to reading. Hats off to those of you who thrive on reading, we love it in this house. I do like to point you towards what I consider good books. This year three have stood out for me. Each one is very well written in readable, accessible, enticing language. Each one is written with passion. Each one is incredibly well researched. Each one is intelligent and inspirational. These are my books of the year 2022. In alphabetical order.
Regeneration – The Rescue of a Wild Land, Andrew Painting. This is the story of the National Trust’s time at Mar Lodge in the Cairngorms. It’s a long story and the patience required to achieve the aims of the project and to write this book are very impressive. Andrew is an ecologist at Mar Lodge. He entices us to love the place though telling the stories of its inhabitants, be that plants, birds, animals or the so called lower plants. He takes us on a beautifully descriptive journey across the estates Mountain, Moors and Woodlands. For anyone with an interest in the uplands this introduction to what they look like, how they could look, how they are being managed and how they are changing is essential.
The Lost Rainforests of Britain, Guy Shurbsole. It’s fascinating, it’s well written and well thought out. No details are skipped but are always explained clearly and concisely. This is an incredibly important part of the British (and to be fair the Irish) ecology. It’s a big subject with some big issues. You may have heard of recent projects to look after the Celtic rainforest, or the Scottish Atlantic woodlands; these are the temperate rainforest that make up the lost rainforests of Britain. Many, many of our western upland valleys retain fragments of the temperate rainforest and a good few more could do so again with a little help. Another wonderful book and a great read.
Wild Fell, Lee Schofield. Lee is a thoroughly nice bloke and it was lovely to be able to interview him in the previous podcast series of Upland Lives which you’ll still be able to find online (renamed Outdoor Lives). I interviewed him just before this book came out, at the time I didn’t realise the full extent of his talent. Again, a beautifully written book that it’s hard not to rush through. There is so much wealth of story in here about our beloved Lake District. Lee is the manager of the RSPB run Mardale estate, the valley that contains Haweswater. The mission is to retain as much traditional farming as possible while making homes for nature. It is wonderful work. It is not without its challenges and Lee fully covers, with honesty, some of the more frustrating aspects of his work in the book. For anyone wanting to see a wilder landscape on our fells, the work of Lee and his colleagues provides a glimpse of what it might take. Another essential read.
Of course, the other type of present that works really well is membership to an environmental charity. Each year we pay for Sally’s folks to be members of their local Wildlife Trust. Maybe you could gift somebody membership of the https://www.snowdonia-society.org.uk/join/ or the society of your favourite National Park?
Whatever you do, take care, enjoy time on the hills, enjoy time with the family and book yourself (or give away as a super present) some Nature of Snowdonia workshop places
Merry Xmas all