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Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel. Published in 2014 by Doubleday. Hardback £14.99.

Posted: Thursday 12th January 2017 by Book-Reviews

Subtitled ‘The private life of an English meadow’, this delightful book quickly draws you into the author’s daily experiences of his land near Hay on Wye, on the English/Welsh borders.

With a fine writing style, Lewis-Stempel notices and reports on every little detail of his ancient meadowland as the year progresses. He gets close up and sometimes very personal with the wildlife that he encounters, crawling through hedges, lying on wet grass and sitting silently in hedge bottoms so as to remain unobserved himself.

55 species of bird are observed ‘using’ the meadow for feeding, resting or breeding and a further 13 species are recorded overhead.

This is a book for a cold or dreary winter’s evening when the light fades in the mid afternoon and there’s little incentive to go out. By contrast, Lewis –Stempel, being a farmer in a rather low key sort of way, has to venture out in all weathers and even surprises himself with what he finds.

Tim Smit, who set up The Eden Project and The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall regards this book as one of the very finest pieces of writing about the natural world there is. There could be no better reason for getting hold of a copy!

Nick Brown

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