Next to Nature: A Lifetime in the English Countryside

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Next to Nature: A Lifetime in the English Countryside

Next to Nature: A Lifetime in the English Countryside

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I got “Next to Nature” for Christmas 2022 and started reading through its monthly collections of essays in January. I fully realise that these writings were originally written for the Church Times, but I maybe wasn't expecting quite so much of it. To immerse yourself in this East Anglian year is be reminded of why we love and value the rhythms and realities of rural life. And no wonder, when he seems such wise and genial company, one of those rare souls who understands that "it takes an age to create one's own peerless dust and muddle. I started this in March, and was playing catch-up until October, but really it would have worked much better read month by month; it's only a shame that there isn't quite an entry per day.

I decided to read each month’s entries at the beginning of each month of 2023, which has undoubtedly been the best approach as it has made this wonderful book last a whole year.After the brilliant and much acclaimed "Akenfield", I found this to be a disappointing book having endless and tiresome quotations from literature and the Bible (Mr. Poignantly, he turned 100 in November 2022 and died just two months later, so this book and my careful reading of it through the year are both tributes to his long and faithful life, much of it lived in an old farmhouse in Suffolk. We use Google Analytics to see what pages are most visited, and where in the world visitors are visiting from.

an expansive exploration of how land­scapes, humans, and words interact, touched with great humanity. All the charm, wonder, eccentricity and vigour of country life is here in these pages, and told with such engaging directness, detail and colour. Blythe's observations of nature are as unforced as breathing, and his descriptions are precise, celebratory and unexpected . I would not normally select anything with a religious theme but this warm and transparently kind man reminds me of chapel in my Dales upbringing. The structure is perfect, compiling Blythe's columns from the Church Times by date, but not by year, so that we read through the circular time of the natural and ecclesiastical year, without altogether knowing where we are in a linear time that seems far less significant out in this little patch of the old rural England, where any self-respecting village needs something to hang dreadful stories on; Borley Rectory was just down the road, and "This was a Mabey walk to rival his walk with me to Wormingford Mere where, although I don't like to boast, we have a dragon.I cannot fault the quality of the writing, but the endless references to the Bible, sermons and church life generally, although they may form a huge part of Blythe's life today, have very little to do with the dramatic change we have seen in the countryside, even since Akenfield.

From here, Blythe has spent almost half a century observing the slow turn of the agricultural year, the church year, and village life in a series of rich, lyrical rural diaries.All the charm, wonder, eccentricity and vigour of country life is here in these pages, and told with such engaging directness, detail and colour . Reading this book is to be in the company of a supremely sensitive observer who has spent a lifetime seeing and scenting nature .



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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