The Real Scandal behind the Nazca Lines

I’ll start off by saying how silly Greenpeace have been recently. In an attempt to increase pressure on UN negotiators meeting in Lima, the environmental organisation trespassed on the arid plains of southern Peru to lay a banner declaring: ‘Time for Change! The Future is Renewable’. In doing this, they have damaged a UNESCO world heritage site, famous for its geoglyphs etched into the earth by ancient Peruvians.

nazca-cizgileri-50943

With the resources available to Greenpeace, I’m fairly embarrassed for them that they didn’t research this project properly beforehand. Peru aren’t a wealthy country, and these intriguing lines must be worth a great deal to them, both sentimentally and financially. Greenpeace have shown little respect for the people of Peru, and it is now for them to reconcile the situation together.

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media have utterly ripped into Greenpeace regarding Nazca-gate..

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 13.10.13

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 13.13.44

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 13.12.38

When I googled this story, barely a single headline drew attention to the reason behind the stunt: to highlight the devastation caused by climate change and fossil fuels, and to encourage UN leaders to reconsider the future of our energy sources. Instead, they chose to focus on the damage caused by their footprints and encouraged the reader to direct our anger towards them. Certainly the damage needs highlighting – but what about the rest?

Throughout the 20th century, global temperatures have increased by 1%, with 15% of carbon emissions coming from deforestation and land use change. Climate change is going to effect the poorest regions on the planet, causing sea level rises and chaotic weather that will displace huge numbers of people around the globe. And the Nazca lines?

‘The lines themselves are superficial; they are only 10-30cm deep and could be washed away. Nazca has only ever received a small amount of rain, but now there are great changes to the weather all over the world. The lines cannot resist heavy rain without being damaged.’
Viktoria Nikitzki of the Maria Reiche Centre

In 2013, parts of the Nazca lines were also destroyed by heavy machinery used to transport limestone from a nearby quarry. The limestone firm had not been sanctioned or supervised by authorities, despite being in an archeological reserve. Yet interestingly enough, I don’t remember that story being splashed ferociously across the newspapers?

Over the last few decades, Greenpeace have been responsible for a remarkable number of successes, protecting vulnerable species and regions, and raising awareness for the damage caused by profit-seeking conglomerates. I wonder how many you have read about in the papers?

2001  The Deni Indians of the Amazon won formal recognition of rights to their traditional land, with all logging and mining thereafter prohibited
2010  They stopped Nestlé buying palm oil from sources that destroy Indonesian rainforests and the habitats of orangutans
2006  Spain confirmed it will phase out nuclear power in favour of clean, renewable energy, joining Sweden, Germany, Italy and Belgium
2010  Following a 10 year Greenpeace campaign, Europe has banned the trade in illegal timber
2010  They bought a plot of land in the middle of the proposed site for a third runway at Heathrow, after which runway plans were axed
2002  They exposed the use of illegally logged wood in the refurbishment of the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace and the Cabinet Office in Whitehall

I don’t work for Greenpeace; I’m not even a member (purely due to my financial constraints). But I’m not going to start forgetting all the amazing work they have done just because they made an insensitive mistake. Readers of this blog will know how much I criticise the mainstream media, and how I hold them responsible for so much ignorance and fear in the world. However, the other day I was thinking about it within the ‘chicken and egg’ scenario: Who is really to blame for these stories? The newspapers who print them, or the people who buy the newspapers?

Please don’t read about Nazca-gate and dismiss the work being done by environmental organisations. The papers might want you to get riled up and blame activists for a stupid mistake, but they aren’t the ones we should be angry at. There are logging and mining companies destroying acres of rainforest every day to line their own pockets, but this doesn’t sell newspapers anymore so we are encouraged to forget about it and focus on DRAMATIC things like this.

If you are interested in cool, real news, you can read the agreement concluded by UN members in Lima on how countries should tackle climate change, the next step towards achieving a global climate deal next year in Paris.

ocelot__amazon_rainforest__ecuadorA south American ocelot

Poem of the Month: December

For December’s poem of the month, I thought I should probably pick something festive to go with the season. Yet, being in love with the Romantic poets, I find this poignant poem by George Gordon Byron expresses the true spirit of Christmas. It celebrates the love, loyalty and courage of the poet’s best friend, and all they gave to one another.

Byron was a handsome, troubled soul. Often described as the most notorious of the major Romantics, he was both celebrated and castigated for his aristocratic excesses, including debts, affairs with both genders and self-imposed exile. Behind this exterior, he was a devoted animal-lover, his favourite dog being a Newfoundland called Boatswain. When Boatswain contracted rabies, Byron nursed him without care for catching the disease himself. When Boatswain passed away, Byron commissioned a memorial stone larger than his own in the grounds of Newstead Abbey, his estate in Nottinghamshire. This poem is the epitaph that adorns the stone.

The poem is important to me for the poet’s recognition of the purity of animals and how they should be remembered for their devotion and strength of character. It is only humans that are immortalised in graveyards, despite the fact that they are ‘corrupt by power’ and ‘by nature vile’. It may seem like a gloomy poem for Christmas, but it’s not! It can be a fierce reminder of how we should admire the uncomplicated hearts of animals, and turn our backs on ‘Black Friday’, money and materialism for a more simple festive month.

Epitaph to a Dog by Lord Byron

Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
Boatswain, a Dog
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18th, 1808

When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown to Glory, but upheld by Birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below.
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well, must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who behold perchance this simple urn,
Pass on – it honours none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one — and here he lies.

A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society exhibited 1838 by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer 1802-1873

10 Years of the Hunting Act

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Hunting Act, which bans the hunting of wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales.

The idea of hunting animals for sport has always been abhorrent to me, and I find it perplexing how people can so willingly inflict cruelty on vulnerable creatures. I’m aware of the damage caused by wild foxes on livestock; they are known to break into a chicken coop and destroy every hen, after which they will eat only one. To combat these attacks, foxes can be caught by pest-controllers and killed in a quick, humane way; this is certainly the best option, although a better one would be not to eat chickens in the first place..

Thankfully, the majority of people are against blood sports these days, but there are a few trying to lift the ban in the name of ‘tradition’ or to ‘revive rural life’. I’m a great lover of the pastoral idyll; horse riding, pub lunches and walks in the wood are all my cup of tea, and I watch Countryfile and Downton religiously. But as American philosopher Bernard E. Rollin once said: ‘Immorality sanctified by tradition is still immorality’. There is no place in the modern world for blood sports, just as there is no place for slavery, religious crusades or gender inequality, all of which have once been an accepted part of ‘tradition’.

Whilst the ban seems fairly secure for now, there have been numerous cases of people flouting the law, chasing foxes with hounds and other offences. The League Against Cruel Sports are a fantastic charity working to expose and end cruelty inflicted on animals in the name of sport.  If you would like to keep hunting banned and help convict those who break the law, please have a look at their website and support them.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 20.48.26

Why I’m dumping the Body Shop

Having recently become a vegetarian, I am forever on the look out for more ways to make my lifestyle more eco-friendly. Food can be tricky; I’d really like to be a vegan but my body and mind aren’t ready to make the jump. With cosmetics, on the other hand, I don’t feel I can justify buying anything that damages wildlife or the planet. Make-up, haircare and cosmetic products are trivial things; they are a luxury and we don’t need them to survive.

Due to this, I’ve been on a little mission to get rid of the unethical products in my cosmetic routine. I am consciously avoiding palm oil in all food and cosmetics because of the devastation it’s causing in south east Asian rainforests. These rainforests are being torn down at an alarming rate in order to plant palm plantations. Although alternatives are still being debated, the situation has to slow down before their entire landscape is destroyed.

I’ve always loved buying from Lush because they have taken palm oil out of all their products. I then decided to visit the Body Shop too as they have a reputation for being ethical, and I foolishly didn’t think twice before buying raspberry body butter. When I got home, I checked the ingredients and realised it was full of palm oil! I decided to write to them and express my concerns, and ask what they were doing to keep palm oil out of their products. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you as a loyal Body Shop customer with concerns about the ingredients in some of your products. I have been thinking very hard about how to change my cosmetic choices to help our environment and dwindling wildlife. After careful consideration, I decided to start buying my cosmetics from two stores: Lush and the Body Shop. I believed both of these stores to be ethical about where they sourced their products, and I could find all my cosmetics needs in both.

However, very recently I bought a tub of your ‘Early Harvest Raspberry Body Butter’, as I have dry skin and your body butter has always been one of my favourite products. I was very upset to find that it contains Ethylhexyl Palmitate, which is derived from palm oil. Being a supposedly ethical company, I’m sure you must be aware of the terrible things happening in Indonesia, and the orangutans that live there are rapidly losing their homes and dying horrific deaths as their trees are being felled by powerful machines.

Palm oil is not a necessary ingredient in anything, and alternatives can easily be found. I recently spoke to Divine, the ethical chocolate company, who do not use palm oil in any of their products. They mentioned that in their caramel bar, palm oil would have been the go-to ingredient to make the caramel soft and squidgy. They admitted that it had taken some time, but they had succeeded in finding a perfect palm oil substitute. I have tasted their caramel bars, and they are absolutely top notch.

I’m aware that many companies claim they use ‘sustainable’ palm oil, and perhaps this is what you believe you are using. However, in Greenpeace’s report Cooking the Climate, they discovered that ‘sustainable’ palm oil can be just as dangerous as uncertified palm oil. Many of the large businesses like Cadbury’s Tesco and Unilever who are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are taking no steps to avoid the worst practices associated with the palm oil industry, and deforestation continues at an alarming rate. There have also been examples of land being taken from natives without consent in order to plant palm crops.

I believe you to be an ethical company, and I would still like to buy cosmetics from you. However, I cannot consciously help a business to profit from these kinds of practices, and I have started looking elsewhere. Are you aware of the consequences of palm oil production? Have you looked into changing your ingredients?

Yours sincerely,

Tiffany Francis

After a long, long wait, I finally received a response to my enquiry. Rather than an informed reply addressing the individual concerns in my letter, I was disappointed to receive a generic ‘palm oil response’, which they obviously hand out to anyone who questions their ethics. It’s one of the most blatant displays of poor customer service I’ve ever seen, and has made me completely rethink my attitude toward the company. Here is their enlightened response:

Dear Tiffany,

Thank you for your letter. Palm oil is one of the world’s most popular vegetable oils, used in thousands of everyday products, from margarine to lipstick and is consumed by over a billion people across the world. It is also a common ingredient in many of our products, like our soaps. Indonesia and Malaysia are home to 90% of the world’s palm oil and 100% of the world’s orangutans. The rainforest in Borneo has halved in size and where once 300,000 orangutans roamed the earth, 50,000 now struggle for survival. If this continues, orangutans will be extinct in 12 years. Clearing forests for palm oil plantations deprives local communities of their livelihood, and sometimes forces them off the land.

We were the first retailers to join the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is changing the way palm oil is traded. Several palm oil plantations are now in the process of meeting the new international standards we have helped to set up through the RSPO so the way they produce palm oil is far less damaging socially and environmentally. In 2007 we started using sustainable palm oil in our soaps.

We are pleased to inform you that since 2011, 100% of the unmodified palm oil use in the Body Shop products has been certified sustainable by the RSPO. Our supplier, based in Papua New Guinea, has been certified by RSPO. The Body Shop’s soaps contain the largest percentage of sustainable palm oil out of all our products. Soon, all soaps at the Body Shop will display the RSPO logo on the packaging, as a way of raising the profile of this important not-for-profit accreditation association. I hope this answers your question.

May we thank you for your interest in the Body Shop online and we look forward to serving you again in future.

Dusan Kovacevic, UK Customer Relations

So what questions have they actually answered in this letter? They have ignored my question about considering alternative ingredients; they have ignored my question about the effectiveness of ‘sustainable’ palm oil and the RSPO. They don’t even seem to have read my letter, as they have quoted facts and figures back at me that I have already mentioned, as if I didn’t know about deforestation and the RSPO.

Although I would be foolish to discredit an entire organisation based on one letter, this is merely the icing on the cake. They have been the centre of controversy in recent years when they were part-bought by L’Oréal, who have a history of animal cruelty and anti-semitism. When I read things like the Wash your Hands of Palm Oil campaign at Lush, and see how much effort they are putting into creating beautiful, ethical products, why should I give my time and money to a company that can’t even be bothered to send me a genuine letter?

I will no longer be shopping at the Body Shop, and I encourage you to do the same. I am also very excited to announce that I am currently constructing an ethical food and cosmetics list, which will become a permanent page on my blog. If you are keen to buy products that are kind to the planet, watch this space!

Bornean orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus); Tanjung Puting National Park, South Kalimantan (K. Selatan), Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Indonesia

Poem of the Month: November

I’ve been very excited to post November’s poem of the month as it was written by someone I know! Bruce is an ex-Marine, personal trainer and actor who enjoys dabbling in poetry, and he wrote this lovely poem about a rather out-of-place duck in Trafalgar Square. I think it’s fabulous, and I painted a silly little illustration to accompany it. Enjoy!

A Duck Amongst the Pigeons by Bruce Alexander

Trafalgar square is the place to land,
Many a tourist with bread in hand,
A certain dress code is required though,
Unless you’re a pigeon, you just don’t go.

No penguins there in evening suit,
Nor swan or goose or glebe or coot,
A bird of prey might pass on through,
But they have no taste for the birds in grey and blue.

Swallows, tits, finch and wren,
They think of coming but think again,
The pigeons rule this al fresco venue,
With only bread upon its menu.

Until that is, I spy a sight,
One that filled me with such delight,
A flash of colour amidst mediocre grey,
I will always remember ’til my dying day.

A duck amongst the pigeons here,
A sight that filled my heart with cheer,
Through the crowds he waddles proud,
Never afraid to be too loud.

Words and water cannot harm,
As he wanders along so cool, so calm,
A lesson to all, be yourself and shine,
Then with Nelson you can wine and dine.

IMG_4185

My Green Reads

I once wanted to be a journalist for a while, and although this dream has pretty much dissolved in a haze of media hatred, I have retained my love of specialist magazines. I rarely touch newspapers anymore, but I read a small collection of publications surrounding the theme of wildlife and environmental conservation, and I thought I’d share my favourites! Sort of like book club, but shinier and with more pictures.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 00.14.25  1363769780_bbc-wildlife-magazine-april-2013-1

Resurgence & Ecologist is a fairly new title formed of two established magazines, Resurgence and The Ecologist (shocker). It covers environmental issues, ethical living, philosophy, art and spirituality, and is very much a voice of the green movement in Britain. I really enjoy the eclectic range of topics covered, and there is always something unexpected to learn about. The scientific articles are particularly fascinating, and the entire reading experience is just good for the soul.

BBC Wildlife is one of my favourites mainly because my subscription comes addressed to Lady Tiffany Francis (such fun). It is a vibrant and visually delicious magazine all about wildlife in Britain and around the world, with some really beautiful photography and illustrations. Aside from updates on conservation and research, it features fantastic articles on different species and ecosystems, as well as identification pages to help you explore nature around you. This month’s issue had a great little article about rainforest-friendly coffee that is grown in the canopy shade rather than logging to clear space.

Countryfile March14_800_600_140218023947   bwp_25_5_cover

I can’t help but love Countryfile magazine as I worked as an intern for them whilst at university. It’s a great magazine (and programme) because it explores and celebrates the relationship between humans and nature, from heritage sites and walking trails to country fairs and birdwatching. The only problem I have is they aren’t allowed to take sides with debates like the Hen Harrier crisis, as their target audience is rooted in both sides of the argument: the wonderful nature lovers and the rather short-sighted grouse moor landowners. However, it’s a great magazine and solid companion for country walks, and certainly celebrates the great outdoors!

British Wildlife is one of my favourite finds in recent months. It comes from an independent publishing house and has been a brilliant tool in my personal journey towards understanding ecology. My specialist subject has always been English Literature and I love my Masters which I started in September. However, as I am hoping to become a successful nature writer, I am also determined to get a thorough grounding in ecology and understand how our natural world works. British Wildlife is a super journal with intriguing and thoughtful articles about our nation’s biodiversity, and it has been a really rewarding read for me. I recommend it if you are interested in more than just pretty pictures (although it has those too), and you have a thirst for fresh research and amazing nature stories.

Going Vegetarian

I very recently made the decision to become a vegetarian! I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while, but could never bring myself to give up lamb chops or bacon. I’m too poor to buy meat on a regular basis, but I love a slither of something crispy.

However, as you may have realised I am extremely passionate about protecting the environment and reversing the damage we have done to the planet. I’m the first to admit that I can get pretty heated and preachy about it all, but I realised that by continuing to eat meat I am being incredibly hypocritical. So I’ve decided to give it up – and it feels great!

o-VEGETARIAN-facebook

So why go vegetarian? My reasons are mostly environmental. I absolutely love animals and have always bought free-range where I can, but I chose to become a vegetarian because of the bigger picture. In July The Guardian reported that the red meat industry has a larger carbon footprint than the motoring industry, producing 18% of the world’s global carbon emissions. If that statistic isn’t enough, we are given constant visual reminders of the devastation caused by the industry. Huge areas of rainforest are legally and illegally logged every day to make room for grazing. If you didn’t like Saruman’s treatment of Fangorn Forest in The Two Towers, imagine it happening every day in the Amazon…

maxresdefault

GP04BXU.greenpeace.herkales.clearing.1.568

I love doing anything I can to combat our environmental crisis, and it feels really good to finally have the balls to give up meat and fish. The main reason I’ve given up fish is because of our global problems with unsustainable fishing and wildlife destruction, and also because of something my friend told me, who works in marine conservation: Our oceans are now so full of plastic that they are starting to find plastic molecules in the fish we eat. Lovely!

‘A recent study into historical records has revealed that since we started fishing on an industrial scale 120 years ago, our major fish stocks have shrunk by a staggering 94%.’
Rabbit Science

wwf-bluefin-tuna-overfishing-designscene-net-01

I’d like to go the whole hog and become a vegan one day, because the dairy industry can be just as cruel and carbon-consuming as the meat industry, but a dairy-free diet is such a massive lifestyle change. However, it would be a great thing to do and I will one day! For now, I’ve asked for vegetarian cookbooks for Christmas, and I’ve been experimenting with lots of intriguing pulses and funky vegetables.

I’ve also bought one of those lovely brown Paperchase books to collect vegetarian recipes together as a sort of food journal, so please let me know any delicious recipes you’d like to share!

You can follow these links for more information…

Why Go Veg? (Vegetarian Times)

Solutions to Deforestation (Greenpeace) 

Working for Sustainable Fishing (WWF)

A Short Rant: Climate and Celebrity

A few weeks ago I joined half a million people across 166 countries to protest against climate change, and marched through London from Temple to Westminster. It was a fantastic event and inspirational to meet so many people who are passionate about saving our planet from ecological disaster. Being a fundraiser for a wildlife charity, life can get extremely depressing when you speak to a hundred people and not a single one is interested in the environment, or even know why it needs protecting.

10622710_10152432290877252_8395381871702696455_n

Lots of celebrities used their influence positively and marched in London, New York and across the world. Emma Thompson, Peter Gabriel and Vivienne Westwood joined the London march, with Thompson and Westwood giving glorious speeches outside the Houses of Parliament. New York saw celebrities Mark Ruffalo, Evangeline Lilly, Sting and Leonardo DiCaprio take to the streets alongside the normals, using their global fame to highlight the catastrophic changes global warming will bring.

It was great to see so many famous faces taking responsibility with everyone else for our destruction of the natural world, but in many ways I was disappointed. Think of how many ‘celebrities’ there are in the world; that is, how many people are watched, judged and idolised by the rest of humanity. Can you imagine what it would have been like if every one of these people had marched for climate change, and talked about the subject with their fans? Can you imagine how many ridiculous teenagers would have actually shown an interest in renewable energy and Sumatran tigers if One Direction had tweeted about it beforehand?

I am generally very optimistic about the future of our planet, because otherwise it is just too depressing to think about. I’m fighting alongside wildlife organisations, conservationists and naturalists to start fixing the damage we’ve done – but I just wish the people who eat and drink money would gain a little perspective and use their influence for something worthwhile.

10612804_10152432373592252_6304310894111215637_n

Poem of the Month: October

Despite the unnatural mugginess of the London streets, it is now officially Autumn! It’s hard to say, but I think this may be my favourite season of the year. I’m not one for warm weather; I like fresh, crisp afternoons with blackberry crumble, dog walks and lots of tartan.

The poem I have chosen for October is from the Romantic period, which I believe to be the best literary era. Think Wordsworth, Coleridge and Austen, and the emotive language used to describe the wonders of our natural world. George Monbiot wrote a fantastic piece in the Guardian today about our reckless destruction of the planet, and it seems fitting to reflect on this poem by John Keats, from a time when the world was greener and people were deeply connected with nature.

I find the poem comforting in its reminder not to be sad that the warm months are gone, because Autumn has its own music to play.

To Autumn by John Keats

1

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.

2

 Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

3

Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too -
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day;
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

mg_0551

Thoughts on Meadowland

Since deciding to pursue nature writing as a career, I’ve been collecting and reading delicious works of naturalist and environmental writing to help influence my own! After spotting a review of John Lewis-Stempel’s Meadowland online it seemed just my cup of tea, and a few days later I was kindly sent a copy by Doubleday.

MeadowlandThe book explores a life in the year of a farmer’s meadow on the border of England and Wales. Through the author’s careful, quiet prose, we watch badgers, foxes, rabbits, woodland birds and livestock as they survive the British seasons, and witness first hand the ruthless process of natural selection.

Yet, it is not the gritty reality of the life cycle that overpowers this book; it is an incredibly pleasant read and left me with a feeling of peaceful tranquility after every visit. Yes, the rabbits were pursued by hungry foxes and tiny songbirds froze in the deep winter, but the warmer months were brimming with life and rebirth. The final effect was one of contented acceptance of nature’s magnificent state of flux.

Meadowland also provided a fantastic insight into the relationship between farming and the natural world. I’m very interested in farming from a consumer point of view, and I take particular care to source my food ethically and organically when possible. Lewis-Stempel doesn’t appear to be a mass-producing farmer on a large scale, but the intimacy he has with his crops, livestock and the wildlife on his land is something I admire him for, not only as a farmer, but as a man wholly connected with the food he eats. Too many modern consumers are completely disinterested in how groceries end up in their fridge.

This is a lovely book for anyone interested in the secrets of our vulnerable hay meadows, something Iolo Williams spoke passionately about in his speech at the State of Nature conference in Wales last year – absolutely worth watching. I recommend Meadowland to anyone who cherishes our countryside and the wild things within it.