Reportage

Flight South

'Everything about swallows says ‘South’. They are a shiny, metallic, gregarious, nomadic tribe, decked in magenta and ravishing deep blues.'

On Roydon Fen

'This is a classic squatters’ landscape, and all the better for it. I always feel immediately at home in such makeshift places. Even the little palings have a Dickensian sort of attraction.'

The Latter-Day Thoreau

'Walnut Tree Farm, the house he eventually completed, and in which he died in August, 2006, is made largely of wood. It is as close to a living thing as a building can be.'

Ancient Trees, Ancient Knowledge

'For indigenous people everywhere, nature is an enlargement of your mind and your sense of kin – your social mind. Trees have long been associated with knowledge.'

We Do Not Use The Word Lightly

For years I have been an illicit cultivator of neglected patches of public land. I ‘fight the filth with forks and flowers’ and until now had never been confronted with the choice between arrest and retreat.

I Leap Over The Wall

'I said firmly, "Freda, I can’t possibly go out in these. They make my legs look naked." She smiled patiently.'

From Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet

'I am hideously worried, mortally depressed. My accursed Bovary is harrying me and driving me mad. I can do nothing about it.'

The Agony Uncle – Part 1

'I am a nervous public speaker and next month I have to address a meeting of top business managers. Do you have any advice on how I might keep calm on stage?'