Somewhere on the Downs above Postling

The downs are driven by a fierce westerly. The dry valleys built of soft Cretaceous chalk are a kaleidoscope of greens and yellows as the sun catches the grasslands and trees. Water is whipped from the eyes; ears deafened by the roar. From the crest of the escarpment there is a dim view of Dungeness…

January in the Clavering Hundred

In the very west of Essex, on the arable fields above the small village of Manuden with its distinctive church spire that appears half buried in the hills, the dawn is quiet, clouded and cold; new red-roofed houses huddle together in the valley. Undaunted, a song thrush sings its distinctive double tap from the edge…

L’ancien et le nouveau chez Boisjarzeau

The hot weather of August produces great storms that travel from the west and on one day monumental clouds rise up over the hameau.   The hameau, like many hereabouts, is part old and part new as homes are created in the ancient limestone buildings. On the old well (le puits) at Bois Jarzeau there is…

Ashdown Forest in February

The view at dawn from the high ridge near Gills Lap looks down over Eeyore’s gloomy place to rivers of mist that fill the Wealden clay valleys below. The land is quiet in February; a cock pheasant runs whilst crouching across the track muddied by winter clearance of swathes of old, leggy gorse. The gorse…

Karapinar and Ereğli Bird Surveys

The ongoing Turkey Breeding Bird Atlas project involves two visits, one in spring and a second in summer, to a chequer board sample of 50km-squares across the country within which records are kept of all bird species observed or heard during the course of a day. Within two 10-km squares, two 1-km squares are selected and a…

Rye Harbour and Camber Castle

The sun shines all day with lines of puffy clouds to the north; the wind blows steadily from the south. Walkers and an assortment of dogs crowd the tarmac path that runs from the car park by the small harbour along the straight channel that is the river Rother to the sea passing weather-beaten, old…

Postcard from the Suffolk Coast

On a fine day, the narrow, shingle edge that shelters the great reed bed in the wide valley between the villages of Dunwich and Walberswick is one of the great coastal walks. There is a distant view of Southwold to the north across the bay. To the south, beyond the pretty houses and abbey ruins of…

Life and Death in Late Winter

The view from the old, stone castle or Ankara Kalesi stretches beyond the houses, tower blocks and mosques to the empty white mountains. The capital city has been exploding from a small town of some 50,000 in 1945 to a city of 5 million today. Young people continue to leave the harsh demands of the distant countryside…

Winter windfalls

Adrift in the North Downs, the small village of Eastling sleeps in the early morning sun. The great yews bury much of the churchyard in deep-frozen shade. A goldcrest briefly emerges from the dense needles in its hunt for tiny prey. Goldfinches sing their light, liquid trickle from high, hidden places. A chaffinch bursts into its plain, spring song but…