An extract from John Grindrod’s Outskirts: Living Life on the Edge of the Green Belt, our competition prize on tomorrow’s newsletter. Make sure you’re subscribed for the chance to win.
Introduction – The Last Road in London
I grew up on the last road in London. At the end of our front garden there was a privet hedge, and beyond the rickety pavement there lay a narrow grass verge, streetlights that glowed a dim orange from dusk, and the road. A tarmac outline to our estate: that was all there was to mark it from the little wilderness beyond. And that wilderness was the woods. It wasn’t like all the other streets on the estate, where a row of identical council houses would stare back. Here we lived opposite a wall of old trees, the gentle slope of a valley and a cantankerous family of crows. In ten steps I could run from our front door and be in the countryside. On Sundays folk emerged from somewhere riding horses along the strip of land opposite, and if the council was feeling flush it would send big tractors to mow the first few feet of it. In their oak tree facing us the crows hopped and cawed and stretched their inky black wings. Owls that we never saw hooted at night. Every year the cow parsley and nettles, elm and ash were furi- ously growing up and dying back. They were constant reminders that, even without human intervention, the woods were quite busy enough thank you. There was life here that didn’t need us. And yet here we were, so close, watching it all from across the road. (more…)
Words and pictures by Jude Rogers
Somehow, out of nowhere, it’s becoming late summer. The stitches of pale, clear lime in the farm fields next door have suddenly become tough cores of corn, their leaves flowering out flamboyantly from the stems, keen invitations for hard hands. The field beyond that is a giddy, golden blonde, its sheaves of wheat calling out gamely to conversative rebels. I walked through this field last week, but on the advice of the farmer, our neighbour, followed the deep tracks that his tractor takes through it, like a girl lost in its sea. No trampling. No running. I’m not a monster. (more…)
J. A. Baker’s The Peregrine, much loved by our readers and contributors alike, is considered one of the most influential nature books of the twentieth century. Hailed by Robert Macfarlane as “a masterpiece of the literature of place”, The Peregrine is treasured and acclaimed by many, yet very little has emerged about its author since the book’s publication 50 years ago.
With its title inspired by a fragment of J.A. Baker’s writing discovered in the archive, My House of Sky by Hetty Saunders will be the first ever biography of J. A. Baker. Little Toller have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the costs of publishing the book – and have nearly reached their target, with 36 days to go – but they’re not there yet!
To find out more about the project and help them get over the line, click here.
The long-awaited third pressing will be released on 4 August. You can pre-order a copy here.
Tickets available here or in person from Coventry Cathedral Gift Shop.
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