Getting the Eye in

  Kathleen Jamie’s Nature Writing     I used to be on very good terms with Kathleen Jamie around the time I was studying medicine at Glasgow and she was emerging as a talented poet: I still have a copy of her first volume Black Spiders (1982), published when she was barely twenty, with its…

Madder and indigofera

A professional visit to St Lucia, 2009 Our unexceptionally torpid meeting at the Ministry of Health on the Castries waterfront was enlivened by one of the beautiful local crested hummingbirds hovering in a blur of blue for a few moments outside the plate glass of our office on the fourth floor.               It brought to…

Picking Olives in Apulia

Over the past two years the olive plantations in the province of Lecce and other parts of Apulia have been attacked by a proteobacterium never previously seen in Europe known as Xylella fastidiosa. Up to a million trees are thought to be affected, with withering of the growth shoots rapidly leading to tree collapse. The…

Where grass is greener

Nature Writing in 2014 1 Philip Hoare’s previous book Leviathan, or The Whale—which won the 2009 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction—was dominated by one big idea, as advertised in its title; The Sea Inside starts off as an exploration of the big idea’s medium, the vast connected body of salty water on our planet that…