A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Until recently woodlands were essential to our survival, we used them for food, fuel and livelihoods. Even though very few make their living from them now, they are places that hold a special place in the hearts of people in the UK, as the government found out when they tried to sell off the Forestry Commission, a decision that was quickly reversed given the outcry. Just taking a walk through a wood helps nature seep back into your soul and are a sanctuary from the madness of modern life.
Sadly I don’t own my own woodland, but John Lewis-Stempel does, and his three and a half acres of mixed species in Herefordshire is a typical small wood. He has managed Cockshutt Wood now for four years, watching the way it changes through the seasons, tracing the paths that animals have made through the understory and taking time to stay still, observe as the lives of the birds and animals play out around him. He lets his cattle and pigs root around in the woods too, a method of farming that harks back centuries. Lots of these woodlands are under threat, but not this one; this is a cherished patch, a place of refuge, a place that he visits every day, just because. Woodlands show the daily march of time through the seasons and yet when you are within one, time seems to stand still.
This is another sublime book from Lewis-Stempel to add to his raft of award-winning books. I really liked the diary format and the way that it is interspersed with folklore, poems, history, recipes and personal thoughts. The longer entries reflect when he has had time to pause and absorb the sights and smells of his wood, and brief entries when he was charging off elsewhere, even the shortest of visits would be sufficient to recharge his soul. 4.5 stars