Next to Nature: A Lifetime in the English Countryside

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Next to Nature: A Lifetime in the English Countryside

Next to Nature: A Lifetime in the English Countryside

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To become a subscriber to Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly Magazine, please visit our subscriptions page. a sensibility which is richer or better fed, more deeply watered and manured, more drenched in Englishness -- ADAM NICOLSON [His] minute observation of places, people and plants, his ear for scraps of dialogue and his feeling for poetry and painting make everything about those days immediate .

Yes, among other things, it’s a paean to the quiet, diffused but real religion of rural life; but, that itself is inextricably linked with observation of life through the seasons (and, as Muslims continually point out, if more Christians actually “lived” their religion there would be wider ground for mutual respect and dialogue.I think Ronald Blythe is a genius in a special, but perhaps overlooked, journalistic genre – the nature notes or country talk columns. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literary and was awarded their prestigious Benson Medal in 2006. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. Poignantly, he turned 100 in November 2022 and died just two months later, so this book and my careful reading of it through the year are both tributes to his long and faithful life, much of it lived in an old farmhouse in Suffolk. Being with Ronnie Blythe in one of his books is like being on a magic carpet, the exhilaration of being alive, and of nature, and the world -- Ian Collins * Today Programme * Next to Nature is the perfect memorial, a latter-day Book of Hours .

We should be grateful to have him and his beautiful pages, and for the privilege of spending so many ordinary and yet rare and precious days in his company -- SUSAN HILL * Telegraph 5* review * A capacious book that contains multitudes . He makes the authors he loves feel like friends full of wisdom and warmth, kindred spirits through their words. The melancholy ever-rolling stream of Time through dark old rooms, the tilting photographs of past incumbents in damp vestries, the melting ice in dank shrubberies, the unwanted (or possibly longed for) companion catching one up in the foggy lane, and history seen as a medieval box of fun holy tricks to poke about in, these were among the experiences of January.We are experiencing delays with deliveries to many countries, but in most cases local services have now resumed.

I decided to read each month’s entries at the beginning of each month of 2023, which has undoubtedly been the best approach as it has made this wonderful book last a whole year. The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. an expansive exploration of how land scapes, humans, and words interact, touched with great humanity. James, Holst, Coleridge are still presences, death notwithstanding, but the fields grow ever emptier of people, the villages more and more separate from their surroundings - something Blythe laments, even while being old enough to be well aware of the privations that came with agricultural life as it used to be. Still, he seems to have been regarded with enormous fondness, each month introduced by a famous friend of 'Ronnie', ranging from Rob Macfarlane through Rowan Williams to Maggi Hambling.

Hope this book reaches a much wider audience than just readers who might remember Akenfield and those of us who immediately turned to the Word from Wormingford column when the Church Times landed on the door mat.

Blythe's observations of nature are as unforced as breathing, and his descriptions are precise, celebratory and unexpected . This book was with me for most of the year that's passed, and I know I'm going to miss those safe and reassuring words of his which may be worth a revisit sometime. And thus does Ronnie himself become the same as his beloved George Herbert and Thomas Hardy: a companion through the tragedy and beauty of human life and a witness to a world charged with the grandeur of God.I got “Next to Nature” for Christmas 2022 and started reading through its monthly collections of essays in January. This was a 2022 Christmas present, signed by the centenarian author, now no longer with us, alas, having died in January of this year. I was rather taken in by a glowing review in The Guardian by Patrick Barkham, whom I rate very highly, and the involvement of Richard Mabey. I seldom read any book for an entire year so Ronnie, as he was known to his many friends, has felt like a companion throughout 2023. Beginning with the arrival of snow on New Year’s Day and ending with Christmas carols sung in the village church, Next to Nature invites us to witness a simple life richly lived.



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