Early in 2013 Neil Hayward was at a crossroads. He didn't want to open a bakery or whatever else executives do when they quit a lucrative but unfulfilling job. He didn't want to think about his failed relationship with 'the one' or his potential for ruining a new relationship with 'the next one'. And he almost certainly didn't want to think about turning 40. And so instead he went birding. Birding was a lifelong passion. It was only among the birds that Neil found a calm that had eluded him in the confusing world of humans.
Charles Foster wanted to know what it was like to be a beast: a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, a swift. What it was really like. And through knowing what it was like, he wanted to get down and grapple with the beast in us all. So he tried it out; he lived life as a badger for six weeks, sleeping in a dirt hole and eating earthworms. He came face to face with shrimps as he lived like an otter and he spent hours curled up in a back garden in East London and rooting in bins like an urban fox.
In 1865 a broken Admiral Robert FitzRoy locked himself in his dressing room and cut his throat. His grand meteorological project had failed. Yet only a decade later, FitzRoy's storm-warning system and 'forecasts' would return, the model for what we use today. In an age when a storm at sea was evidence of God's great wrath, 19th-century meteorologists had to fight against convention and religious dogma.
"Lightning from a blue sky"
An intriguing story of a place, a person and the garden she created. In 1988 Katherine Swift arrived at the Dower House at Morville to create a garden of her own. This beautifully written, utterly absorbing book is the history of the many people who have lived in the same Shropshire house, tending the same soil, passing down stories over the generations. Spanning thousands of years, The Morville Hours takes the form of a medieval Book of Hours.
For 20 years John Aitchison has been travelling the world to film wildlife for the BBC and other broadcasters, taking him to faraway places on every continent. The Shark and the Albatross is the story of these journeys of discovery, of his encounters with animals and occasional enterprising individuals in remote and sometimes dangerous places.
"Brilliant insight to wildlife and film-making."
Max Hastings is best known as an acclaimed journalist and military historian. But what is perhaps less well known is his love of the countryside and its pursuits, above all fishing and shooting, which he indulges as often as he can escape his urban working environment.
"only good if you enjoy hunting, shooting and fishi"
An orchard is not a field. It's not a forest or a copse. It couldn't occur naturally; it's definitely cultivated. But an orchard doesn't override the natural order: it enhances it, dresses it up. It demonstrates that man and nature together can - just occasionally - create something more beautiful and (literally) more fruitful than either could alone. The vivid brightness of the laden trees, studded with jewels, stirs some deep race memory and makes the heart leap. Here is bounty, and excitement.
In 1988 Katherine Swift arrived at the Dower House at Morville to create a garden of her own. This beautifully written, utterly absorbing book is the history of the many people who have lived in the same Shropshire house, tending the same soil, passing down stories over the generations. Spanning thousands of years, The Morville Year takes the form of a medieval Book of Hours. It is a meditative journey through the seasons, but also a journey of self-exploration. It is a book about finding one's place and putting down roots.
His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited. In this volume of memoirs David tells stories of the people and animals he has met and the places that he has visited. Over the last 25 years he has established himself as the world's leading Natural History programme maker with several landmark BBC series.
The inspiration for the BBC series of the same name. Fresh out of Glasgow Veterinary College, to the young James Herriot 1930s Yorkshire seems to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But from his erratic new colleagues, brothers Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, to incomprehensible farmers, herds of semiferal cattle, a pig called Nugent and an overweight Pekingese called Tricki Woo, James find he is on a learning curve as steep as the hills around him.
"Great story and narrator - terrible sound quality"
How do trees live? Do they feel pain or have awareness of their surroundings? Research is now suggesting trees are capable of much more than we have ever known. In The Hidden Life of Trees, forester Peter Wohlleben puts groundbreaking scientific discoveries into a language everyone can relate to.
"Well worth a listen"
When Monty Don's golden retriever, Nigel, became the surprise star of BBC's Gardeners' World, inspiring huge interest, fan mail and even his own social media accounts, Monty Don wanted to explore what makes us connect with animals quite so deeply. In many respects Nigel is a very ordinary dog - charming, handsome and obedient, as so many are. He is also a much loved family pet. He is also a star. By telling Nigel's story, Monty relates his relationships with other special dogs in his life in a memoir of his dogs past and very much present.
"an absolutely brilliant book"
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) is the great lost scientist: more things are named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast; there's a penguin, a giant squid - even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon. His colourful adventures read like something out of a Boy's Own story.
"Seems to tie together not only science, but history too. Fascinating"
The fourth volume of memoirs from the author who inspired the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. Finally home from London after his wartime service in the RAF, James Herriot is settling back into life as a country vet. While the world has changed after the war, the blunt Yorkshire clients and menagerie of beasts with weird and wonderful ailments remain the same.
The fifth volume of memoirs from the author who inspired the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. During his decades spent as a country vet in Yorkshire, James Herriot has seen huge advances in medical science, technological leaps, and a world irrevocably changed by war. Yet some things have always stayed the same - gruff farmers, hypochondriac pet owners, and animals that never do quite what you expect them to.
"Perfect cosy read"
From best-selling author Amanda Owen come more tales of life at Ravenseat, the remote Yorkshire hill farm she shares with husband Clive, eight children and 1,000 sheep. In A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess she describes the age-old cycles of a farming year and the constant challenges the family faces, from being cut off in winter to tending their flock on some of Yorkshire's highest, bleakest moors - land so inaccessible that in places it can be reached only on foot.
The sequel to the bestselling A Street Cat Named Bob continues the remarkable adventures of James and Bob showing - through new stories - how Bob's extraordinary street wisdom has shown James the meaning of friendship, loyalty, trust - and happiness. "Since Bob had appeared, I'd made huge strides in my life. For more than a decade I'd been a homeless drug addict. I'd been lost to the world and forgotten what was important in life. Now I'd got myself back on my two feet, but as I put the past behind me, I was still stepping unsteadily into the future."
"A Brilliant Sequel!"
At the age of 30, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life. As she spends her mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, her days tracking Orkney's wildlife, and her nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy discovers how the wild can restore life and renew hope.
"Overall, a well written and read book."
A must-have book for walkers, sailors and everyone interested in the natural world, How to Read Water unlocks the secrets of water in all its forms. Natural navigator Tristan Gooley imparts knowledge and teaches skills, tips and useful observations to help you navigate the landscape around you.
"Great read (listen)..."
In January 2006, a month or two after my father died, I thought I saw him again - a momentary impression of an old man, a little stooped, setting off for a walk in his characteristic fawn corduroys and shabby quilted jacket. After teenage rifts it was walking that brought us closer as father and son, and this ghost of Dad has been walking at my elbow since his death, as I have ruminated on his great love of walking, his prodigious need to do it - and how and why I walk myself.
We Bought a Zoo is about one young family, a broken down zoo, and the wild animals that changed their lives forever. When Ben and his wife Katherine sold their small flat in Primrose Hill, upped sticks with their children, and invested their savings into a dilapidated zoo on the edge of Dartmoor, they were prepared for a challenge and a momentous change in all their lives. What they weren't prepared for was Katherine's devastating second brain cancer diagnosis.
"Good story, pity about the reader."
Drawing upon a lifetime of scientific expertise and an abiding love of nature, Richard Fortey uses his small wood to tell a wider story of the ever-changing British landscape, human influence on the countryside over many centuries and the vital interactions between flora, fauna and fungi. The trees provide a majestic stage for woodland animals and plants to reveal their own stories.
"A Gem for Nature Lovers"
Meet The Bear - a cat who carries the weight of the world on his furry shoulders, and whose wise, owl-like eyes seem to ask, Can you tell me why I am a cat, please? Like many intellectuals, The Bear would prefer a life of quiet solitude with plenty of time to gaze forlornly into space and contemplate society's ills. Unfortunately he is destined to spend his days surrounded by felines of a significantly lower IQ....
"Funny and quirky"
A total of 175 species are heard on this download, ranging from the familiar tawny owl to the very rare call of the bittern. The authoritative guide to all British birds likely to be encountered by the average birdwatcher and the ideal gift for anyone wishing to learn the sounds of the great variety of birds that can be seen and heard throughout the seasons. A perennial best seller.
When George Mottershead moved to the village of Upton-by-Chester in 1930 to realise his dream of opening a zoo without bars, his four-year-old daughter June had no idea how extraordinary her life would become. Soon her best friend was a chimpanzee called Mary, lion cubs and parrots were vying for her attention in the kitchen, and finding a bear tucked up in bed was no more unusual than talking to a tapir about granny's lemon curd. Pelican, penguin, or polar bear - for June, they were simply family.
"A captivating read."
How on earth did James Herriot come to be sitting on a high Yorkshire moor, smelling vaguely of cows? James isn't sure, but he knows that he loves it. This second hilarious volume of memoirs contains more tales of James' unpredictable boss Siegfried Farnon; his charming student, brother Tristan; animal mayhem galore; and his first encounters with a beautiful girl named Helen.
"Absolutely great and funny"