A Wild Read: Feral


I don’t know why I’m always reluctant to pick up non-fiction. When I finally do I inevitably devour it. Feral was no exception. I uncovered this book from one of the many must-read piles and was quickly captivated by Monbiot’s call to ‘rewild’ our natural spaces.

I imagined the possibility of wolves, lynx and elks amongst our wilder corners of the land, felt frustration over the choices of the land-owning few, and surprise at the picture of a country stripped bare by grazing animals. Given that the grazing problem is mainly of the woolly variety I felt torn over my love for this fibre.

Monbiot describes many of our wild open spaces as ecological monocultures, often actively maintained as such due to popular belief that this is how these hills should look. Certainly my dad holds with this perspective; as a geologist he prefers the beauty of bare rock to the rich biodiversity of a forest. We’ve had much heated discussion on the matter. I doubt either of us will be swayed from our view.

After the sobering experience of reading This Changes Everything, I was buoyed up by Monbiot’s cautious optimism and practical possibilities for reconnecting with the natural world around us. Whatever your own aesthetic preferences, there’s no doubt we need to view ourselves less as custodians, more as respectful observers, or polite guests of the world around us.

Who even am I?


A little dramatic, I’m sure, but as I found myself practically bed-bound this weekend, it brought home to me how much of my identity is wrapped up in movement. I take such delight in running to the top of a flight of stairs, jumping off a low wall, climbing the branch of that tree, just generally weaving and hopping my way through the day. Now that I can’t do such gallivanting, I realise it’s actually a big part of me. I like to get my heart rate pumping, be playful and give two fingers to being a ‘respectable lady’.

On Thursday’s run through the forest I took a badly-judged leap over a puddle and twisted my foot under me. I try not to be a drama queen, honestly I do, but this particular incident did see me on hands and knees, giving a few sharp yelps of pain with tears in my eyes. Tom carried me back to the car (Drama queen? Me?) whilst I inelegantly wielded a stick to encourage the mutt to follow.

Since then, I’ve tried to embrace my inner slob. The couch and I have become close friends, I’ve abandoned all housework and been binge-watching Girls (only a *little* late to the party on that one). Fine for a few days, especially when it’s rainy, but now the sun is shining and I want to be out in it, running around and filling up on fresh air. It makes me feel incredibly fortunate to be able to rely on my body most of the time. It’s easy to take for granted. I’m counting on my foot recovering in a few weeks (hear that Foot?) but for now, I’m just running vicariously and trying not to eat my bodyweight in M&Ms.

Tom and Bryony run

Life Lately

Lately Collage

Things have been pretty quiet on these here ramblings, hidden under the rest of this noisy life. We’re coming up to the one year anniversary of my fledgling business (read the first newsletter here). I’m so happy to have been able to fill the year with work and rest. My days involve plenty of tree hugging and morning light, but I’m also cramming them full with rewarding work and a sense of contribution.

The year is speeding up, with ever more blue sky days. I started the month full of regular runs and signed up for the Clarendon Half Marathon. Runs have slowed to walks as the end of term bogged me down, my head full of work (but in a good way!) I spent last weekend in London speaking at a conference and meeting up with friends. We talked adventures by the sea and adventures in business. It feels so affirming to talk to other people whose vision of work success involves balance and enjoyment over expansion or employee numbers.

Now we’ve made it to the end of term and I’m shaking off the busy buzz of work. I’m travelling to Lithuania next week with my choir. The capital Vilnius looks beautiful, not to mention this magical island city that we’ll be singing in. Then I’m taking the slow train home, to enjoy some grand cinema views from a worn upholstered seat, stopping to explore some new cities along the way.

But none of this before a long weekend of rest, fresh air and chocolate. I’m really enjoying the idea of marking this time in the year: celebrating and welcoming in all the new life and potential of spring. I think eggs might even have to be decorated.

A Little Solitude

How is it that some weeks feel so fraught as a whole, even when filled with good little fragments? I finished this week feeling wiped out and stormy inside. So, I retreated to my childhood home for the night, to enjoy the peace that comes with having nothing but the fire for company.

I felt the swell of hours around me. No screen nearby; just piano music, the pages of a good book and a yoga mat. I had the most analogue and granny-paced evening all by myself. It was marvellous.

My brother returned home hours later. We hung out, ate pizza and seriously put the world to rights. We spotted some constellations and watched the most incredible moonset finally fade to a triangular glow on the horizon.

The following frosty morning I was alone again, enjoying the chilly air from the comfort of bed, with coffee and room to stretch out, watching the Downs glow pink in the rising sun and listening to the seagulls murmur in the field by the sea. I sat while lazy, hazy-formed thoughts drifted over me.

I returned home to my man a few hours later, refreshed and ready for a sunny Saturday of baking brownies and catching up. We chased the last light on a quick yomp up Headon Warren, to watch the sun fall behind the Needles.

It’s incredible how spending a little bit of time with noone makes me so much better at being with someone.

Roadtripping with a Poodle

My mutt is way too much of a crazy pup to be a good #vandog (yet!) so I lived vicariously through Steinbeck’s drive across America with Charles de Chien in their purpose-built truck. Though Travels with Charley was published over forty years ago, I was struck by how relevant his musings remain. He complained about overcrowding, gridlocked traffic and mounds of rubbish (then one page later extolled the virtues of single-use frying pans!) Perhaps every age feels that they are suffering a great demise.

Steinbeck’s spare but incisive observations of people and places was an absolute delight. His description of the quiet hush of solo breakfast diners was perfect. He balances quirky musings on his dog with beautiful insights into the places he visits. I was thrilled to read his description of my own little home corner of the west coast:

I stayed two days close to the bodies of the giants, and there were no trippers, no chattering troupes with cameras. There’s a cathedral hush here. Perhaps the thick soft bark absorbs sound and creates silence. The trees rise straight up to zenith; there is no horizon. The dawn comes early and remains dawn until the sun is high. Then the green fernlike foliage so far up strains the sunlight to a green gold and distributes it in shafts or rather in stripes of light and shade.

Now, it’s probably appropriate to end this post with some summery puppy spam, right?

PS – Here is another perfectly-formed slim read.