Reportage

The Decline of the Coffee to Stay

How could one ever feel pessimistic here? But then one day out went the beautiful iron-sided tables and comfortable chairs, and with them the people and all of their books.

‘It was like a ten-year stag party’

'Maths and numbers and abstraction, these all seem like very un-Irish things; but imagining other worlds, turning reality into a hall of mirrors, these are things we are very good at.'

Phantoms Over Paris

'It’s the New York Herald Tribune, Jean Seberg’s voice in the middle of traffic. It’s Romaine Bohringer and Elsa Zylberstein lolling on a bench at the top of a city hill, art and hope and tragedy ahead of them.'

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.'