Tag Archives: book

Sorting through the trip piles

Still sorting out…

Have you noticed how maps, guides, books and notes can begin to accumulate into little, and not so little, piles of ‘important planning resources’ over time.

My attempt at sorting out some of those piles has continued into a second day. Once Mrs Three Points of the Compass is happy with how much the accumulated ‘stuff’ has been reduced and sorted, I’ll try and get round to a post or two on a couple of these little adventures. One from earlier in the year, one still to come.

The New Naturalists books make excellent reading. Especially when loaded onto an e reader if visiting an area

A library- leafing through the pages…

Three Points of the Compass encourages anyone who hikes or ventures into the countryside to not only look around and take notice of the surroundings, but to seek answers to questions. Buy a book, a Field Guide, try and remember a new name each trip out, each season, every year

Three Points of the Compass encourages anyone who hikes or ventures into the countryside to not only look around and take notice of the surroundings, but to seek answers to questions. Buy a book, a history, Field Guide, reference work, try and remember a new name and identification each trip out, each season, every year

Over the past few weeks Three Points of the Compass has been pulling a few books off his shelves to share with you. Every single one has given me pleasure, been of interest, has answered questions, acted as occasional expert reference or frustrated me in my ignorance.

I have featured 178 books with another 83 complimentary volumes also illustrated and touched upon. All have been purchased by me or have been gifts from family or friends. In a lot of cases there have been subsequent and possibly glossier editions, some I have purchased, others I have not. Usually it is the edition that has resonated with me most that I have shown on these pages.

Books can be expensive. However if something is of even passing interest, there is usually a cheap little volume available from someone who knows their subject, available and knows how to put it across. The online sites such as eBay and Amazon can turn up well priced second hand books at reasonable prices

Books can be expensive. However if something is of even passing interest, there is usually a cheap little volume available from someone who knows their subject and knows how to put it across. None of the small books above cost me more than a couple of quid and all of them answered a question. Online sites such as eBay and Amazon can turn up well priced second hand books in good readable condition. But do your research first, there is a lot of dross out there

I love books, much to the frustration of Mrs Three Points of the Compass (who happily neglects to mention her own fine collection of fiction). E-versions are often available and I have no problem with that. Like many others, I like the solid feel of a book, find flicking through the pages not only an ascetic pleasure but usually more convenient. However I well recognise the value of actually having a book with you instead of at home on the shelves. That is why I have also shown five e-books in these blogs. Books that, with others not shown here, have accompanied me on my walks and travels at no more than the weight of the e-reader itself.

Though I well remember that sickening feeling when I leant back on my backpack at a rest stop on the fells once, and heard a loud crack from within the pack’s depths. Sure enough, when the Kindle was pulled from the pack later, a series of cracks crazed the face. I now use my android phone instead and the replacement, and now apparently obsolete, Kindle ‘Classic’ escorts me on family holidays.

New Naturalists have been published since 1945 covering a wide range of British Natural History subjects. There have been cheaper editions published of many of these, eschewing the lovely dust jackets artwork and replacing any original colour plates with black and white

New Naturalists have been published since 1945 covering a wide range of British Natural History subjects. There have been cheaper editions (three shown on the lower row here) published of many of these, eschewing the lovely dust jackets artwork (above) and replacing any original colour plates with black and white

So, to finish- buy books. Read them, learn from them. Fill your shelves with them. A good guide can only make your time in the wild more enjoyable and fulfilling. A little knowledge fills the voids and with luck, will make you ask further questions, that all need answering. Now where’s that book…

... and along with a book comes the associated paraphernalia. Who can read any book about bats without wanting a bat detector too!

… and along with a book comes the associated paraphernalia. Who can read any book about bats without wanting a bat detector too!

Books in featured image:

Brecon Beacons, Jonathan Mullard. William Collins, 2014. Source ISBN 978 0007 3677 02, Ebook edition- ISBN 978 0007 5312 57

Yorkshire Dales, John Lee. William Collins, 2015, Source ISBN 978 0007503698, Ebook edition- ISBN 978 0007 5037 11

 

 

Journey through Britain by John Hillaby

A library for those who hike in the shadow of giants…

Journey through Britain

John Hillaby

Shouldn’t everyone have two copies of their favourite book? Perhaps an e-copy as well as the physical one kept lovingly on the bookshelf, or one to be kept pristine and the other battered, well-travelled, thumbed copy? Of course they should.

Anyone who has read the opening page of Three Points of the Compass will know where I am coming from with my choice of John Hillaby’s Journey through Britain as a book for a library for those who hike in the shadow of giants.

Journey through Britain records John Hillaby's spring walk the length of Britain from Land's End to John O'Groats. Journey through Europe was his account of his walk from the Hook of Holland to Nice via the Alps. These are the best accounts of his walks

Journey through Britain records John Hillaby’s spring walk the length of Britain from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Journey through Europe was his account of his walk from the Hook of Holland to Nice via the Alps. These are the best accounts of his walks

His Journey through Britain book, published in 1968, appeared as A Walk through Britain in the U.S. for some reason. A similar re-titling occurred with Journey through Europe. John Hillaby, 1917-1996, wrote and edited a number of books but it his ‘Journey’ volumes that resonate with Three Points of the Compass most for a number of reasons. Not only have they pushed forward my own ambition to cross my country on foot, but they also revealed to a young man the necessity of being aware of my surroundings. The author encouraged my burgeoning interest in natural history and his books were probably what first made me aware of an ecology; the joined-up’ness and inter-dependence of the natural world. And not least, I enjoy his writing. I could identify with the author’s empathy for his subjects. He is, was, unafraid to reveal his shortcomings and mistakes and looked for answers, often finding it in the history of cultural and social history, mixed up with a laudable appreciation and understanding of botany, entomology and natural history in general. Much of this obviously stemmed from his earlier career as a journalist, becoming zoological correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, later, European science writer for The New York Times and in 1953, biological correspondent for the New Scientist.

A Journey through Britain- the beginning

A Journey through Britain- the beginning

Journey to the Jade Sea– is an account of a thousand mile walk from Northern Kenya to the Jade Sea, accompanied by his retinue of camels and hired bearers.

Journey through Britain– was a ‘considered impulse’ walk the length of Britain attempting to experience the minimum of metalled roads between.

Journey through Europe– a trek through Europe elaborating on the people as much as the natural history

Journey through Love– is a difficult book, wonderful accounts of walks are included, but it is also the story of a man suffering inner turmoil and grief

Journey Home– across England from Ravenglass in Cumbria via the Lakes and Swaledale and indirectly to London

Journey to the Gods– his journey from Athens to Mount Olympus via the Pindus mountains

The 'Journey' series of books from John Hillaby can still be picked up in acceptable paperback form very cheaply

The ‘Journey’ series of books from John Hillaby can still be picked up in acceptable paperback form very cheaply

Anyone who has walked, alone, for many miles, for many days on a hike knows that any romantic image it can be cracked up to be is often far from the truth. It can be dirty, difficult and, frankly, unchanging for mile after mile. It is then that the ability to distance one self from boredom and doubt is most required. John Hillaby was estimated to have walked the equivalent distance of five times the circumference of the globe and his books, especially Journey through Britain, are each an instruction manual on how an inquisitive mind should be both encouraged and drawn upon. In his obituary in The Times on Monday 21 October 1996, a pearl from Hillaby is recorded-

“the naturalist is able to put a great deal between what he sees and that portion of his mind where boredom lurks”

We would do well to learn from this.

Two further volumes from John Hillaby, neither of which enjoyed large sales yet make good reading. within the streams was the author's first published volume and is the story of a fisherman, people of the river and a byegone age. John Hillaby's London was his publishers suggeston, that stymied the author's ambitious wishes to return to far off lands or explore new ones, but instead gave us an excellently researched and personal guide to a London experienced by few

Two further volumes from John Hillaby, neither of which enjoyed large sales yet make good reading. within the streams was the author’s first published volume and is the story of a fisherman, people of the river and a bygone age. John Hillaby’s London was his publishers suggestion, that stymied the author’s ambitious wishes to return to far off lands or explore new ones, but instead gave us an excellently researched and personal guide to a London experienced by few

In the early 1970s, mourning the loss of his second wife, Thelma ('Tilly'), John Hillaby walked the northern section of the Appalachian Trail. Here, he is shown on his final day on the trail. This walk was recounted in his book Journey through Love

In the early 1970s, mourning the loss of his second wife Thelma (‘Tilly’), John Hillaby walked the northern section of the Appalachian Trail. Here, he is shown on his final day on the trail. This walk was recounted in his book Journey through Love

 

 

Book in featured image:

Journey through Britain, John Hillaby. Constable, 1968. ISBN 0 09 455780 2, Hardback

Journey through Britain, John Hillaby. Paladin Grafton Books, 1986. ISBN 0 586 08019 8, Softback

The Cerne Giant

A library for geologists…

 

Lost Gods of Albion

Paul Newman

Yes, you are correct, that is a picture of a man that seems to be very pleased to see you. And he has been that way for a very long time, since 1694 at least.

Some may wonder why I include a book on chalk hill figures in a blog about books on geology, but it is due to that very geology, and man’s interaction with it, that such wonderful artefacts exist. People have identified a hill, an aspect, its underlying soil and used these to tell a story, to advertise a fact or possibly just to show off.

Regimental Badges at Fovant, Wiltshire. Cut into the grass by soldiers stationed in the district during the 1914-18 war. In 1951 the badge of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry was added

Regimental Badges at Fovant, Wiltshire. Cut into the grass by soldiers stationed in the district during the 1914-18 war. In 1951 the badge of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry was added

Almost exclusively peculiar to England, the majority of chalk hill figures are of horses with some lovely exceptions, which include crosses, the 180 feet (55m) high Cerne Giant shown on the cover of the book above and even a Panda.

Lost Gods of Albion only looks a few of the hill figures to be found and virtually ignores anything modern, preferring to concentrate on any perceived spirituality associated with some chalk hill figures. It does make interesting reading though.

The 231 feet (70m) Long Man of Wilmington, Sussex was passed by Three Points of the Compass on the Wealdway. Still just visible in the light snow

The 231 feet (70m) Long Man of Wilmington, East Sussex was passed by Three Points of the Compass on the Wealdway. Still just visible in the light snow on the hill, the hill figure is designed so as to appear proportional when viewed from below . It dates from the 16th or 17th century.

This little book from Kate Bergamar is an early Shire Publication from 1972. I don't think I bought it as a niper, it was much more likely to have been one of my parents. It went some way to explaining the hill figures we would see from the car on holidays. A number of errors are present in its text though

This little book from Kate Bergamar is an early Shire Publication from 1972. I don’t think I bought it as a nipper, it was much more likely to have been one of my parents. It went some way to explaining the hill figures we would see from the car on holidays. A number of errors are present in the text though

Reaching Ivinghoe Beacon on my final day on the Ridgeway, over my right shoulder could be seen the huge figure of the Whipsnade White Lion

Reaching Ivinghoe Beacon on my final day on the Ridgeway, over my right shoulder could be seen the huge figure of the Whipsnade White Lion. It measures 483 feet (147m) across

I defy anyone, when striding across the chalk hills of England, if presented with one of the fifty plus chalk hill figures to be found, to not stand and give it more than a casual glance. And while you do admire it, consider that you are seeing the product of show-offs, an earlier people that had something to say and they stood on their hill and cut the turf to do so, using the very geology of their land to shout their message across to you.

Just about the worst place to see a chalk-hill figure is standing next to it. Three Points of the Compass passed the top of Uffington Horse, cut into White Horse Hill, on the Ridgeway in 2016

Just about the worst place to see a chalk-hill figure is standing next to it, even when it measures 360 feet (110m) nose to tail. Three Points of the Compass passed the top of Uffington Horse, cut into White Horse Hill, on the Ridgeway in 2016. However you can see how those who constructed it, over 3000 years ago, looked out at their vista and said- ‘this is the place’

Another two books to consider are White Horses and other Hill Figures by Morris Marples, or Ancient British Hill Figures by Rodney Castleden

Another two books to consider are the 1991 second edition reprint of the definitive White Horses and other Hill Figures by Morris Marples, or Ancient British Hill Figures by Rodney Castleden, published in 2000, which concentrates on the older chalk figures

Book in featured image:

Lost Gods of Albion, the chalk-hill figures of Britain, Paul Newman. Robert Hale, 1997. ISBN 0 7509 1563 3

If you want to look for a cheaper option than Lost Gods of Albion, then Gods and Graven Images was simply an earlier (1987) version of the book by the same author

If you want to look for a cheaper option than Lost Gods of Albion, then Gods and Graven Images was simply an earlier (1987) version of the book by the same author

Oxford English History

A library for historians…

The Oxford History of England

The title- ‘The Oxford History of England‘ may seem somewhat odd, but it should be remembered that historical use of the word England actually embraced Wales, could mean Great Britain or the United Kingdom, even the British Empire. It is a history that relates to a state structure built around an English monarchy and the subsequent Crown Parliament. I don’t get hung up over it but I can imagine many a Scot or Irishman might.

These volumes have not been on my bookshelf for long but they more than adequately fill a gap that I had. Sadly, my lovely brother-in-law Peter passed and my sister gave me his set of The Oxford History of England. I was delighted to have these books as they are an excellent series of well-written histories, broken down into ‘chapter’ volumes.

The series was commissioned by Oxford University Press and the first volume appeared in 1934. The series has extended beyond its original remit and there have been a number of updates, edited versions and additions made over the years. In addition, a ‘New Oxford History of England‘ was commissioned in 1992. The new series is incomplete so far.

A handy, one volume 'aide memoire' is A Short History of England. Simon Jenkins brings his journalistic skills to distilling down centuries of convoluted, complicated and contentious history into just a few hundred pages. Light on social history, big on monarchy, this book still works well as a continual read in simple language

A handy, one volume ‘aide memoire’ is A Short History of England. Author Simon Jenkins brings his journalistic skills to distilling down centuries of convoluted, complicated and contentious history into just a few hundred pages. Light on social history, big on monarchy, this book still works well as a continual read in simple language

Books in featured image:

Volume I: Roman Britain, Peter Salway. Oxford University Press, 1981. ISBN 0 19 8217172 X

Volume I B: The English Settlements, J.N.L. Myres. Oxford University Press, 1986. ISBN 0 19 821719 6

Volume II: Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton. Oxford University Press, third edition 1971. ISBN 0 19 821716 1

Volume III: From Domesday Book to Magna Carta 1087-1216, A.L. Poole. Oxford University Press, second edition 1987. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0 19 821707 2

Volume IV: The Thirteenth Century, 1216–1307, Sir Maurice Powicke. Oxford University Press, second edition, 1962. ISBN 0 19 821708 0

Volume V: The Fourteenth Century, May McKisack. Oxford University Press, 1992. ISBN 0 19 821712 9

Volume VI: The Fifteenth Century, 1399–1485, E.F. Jacob. Oxford University Press, 1988. ISBN 0 19 821714 5

Volume VII: The Earlier Tudors, 1485–1558, J.D. Mackie. Oxford University Press, 1991. ISBN 0 19 821706 4

Volume VIII: The Reign of Elizabeth 1558-1603, J.B. Black. Oxford University Press, second edition 1992. ISBN 0 19 821701 3

Volume IX: The Early Stuarts, 1603–1660, Godfrey Davies. Oxford University Press, second edition 1988. ISBN 0 19 821704 8

Volume X: The Later Stuarts, 1660–1714. Sir George Clark. Oxford University Press, second edition 1992. ISBN 0 19 821702 1

Volume XI: The Whig Supremacy, Basil Williams, revised by C.H. Stuart. Oxford University Press, second edition 1992. ISBN 0 19 821710 2

Volume XII: The Reign of George III, 1760–1815, J. Steven Watson. Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN 0 19 821713 7

Volume XIII: The Age of Reform, 1815–1870, Sir Llewellyn Woodward. Oxford University Press, second edition 1990. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0 19 821711 0

Volume XIV: England, 1870–1914, Sir Robert Ensor. Oxford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0 19 821705 6

Volume XV: English History, 1914–1945. A.J.P. Taylor. Oxford University Press, 1990 ISBN 0 19 821715 3

The Handbook of British Mammals. Corbet and Southern

A library for naturalists…

The Handbook of British Mammals

Corbet and Southern

This volume is probably more a historical document today but use it alongside any modern Field Guide and it works wonderfully. Just don’t go looking for Coypu in East Anglia today, they were probably eradicated by the early 1990s.

Part of the seven and a half pages that covers the Harvest Mouse in Great Britain

Part of the seven and a half pages that covers the Harvest Mouse in Great Britain in The Handbook of British Mammals

As usual, Collins publish excellent Field Guides to Mammals. Such a volume works brilliantly alongside a good reference work such that by Corbet and Southern

As usual, Collins publish excellent Field Guides to Mammals. Such a volume works brilliantly alongside a good reference work such that by Corbet and Southern

I suppose at some point I ought to purchase the most up to date version of a handbook to British Mammals, however much of the salient historical and biological data in my volume is still correct and I supplement this with species specific detail in other volumes on my bookshelves. Perhaps the most relevant aspect is that not only am I a naturalist, but I am a reader of books too. Corbet and Southern’s volume has prose as well as fact.

Good information is included on the Classification of Mammals and I am especially pleased that detail on extinct species is included, such as Brown Bear and Wolf. Hopefully in my time the latter species may be reintroduced to Scotland.

Line drawings of dentition and skulls are included and the systematic accounts, each written by an authority, are broken down in to Description, Measurements, Distribution, Habitat, Behaviour, Food, Breeding, Predators and Mortality, and Relations with Man.

A very good, reasonably priced series of books was published by Whittet Books. nUpdated and new editions are avaialbe. Written by ackoledged expert sin their field, these are very accessible and in no way daunting, but still give good information on species

A very good, reasonably priced series of books was published by Whittet Books. Updated and new editions are available. Written by acknowledged experts in their field, these are very accessible and in no way daunting, but still give good information on species. Some authors of these volumes also wrote the species accounts in The Handbook of British Mammals

Book in featured image:

The Handbook of British Mammals, G B Corbet and H N Southern. Blackwell Scientific Publications, second edition 1977. ISBN 0 632 09080 4

Gerard's Herbal

A library for botanists…

‘A Generall Historie of plantes’

or

Gerard’s Herbal

After identification manuals and handbooks, ecology guides, accounts of rare and unusual flowers, where should the botanist turn to next- How about a guide to what the ancients thought of as the various ‘vertues‘ of plants for food and health?

'That the traveller or wayfaring man that hathe the herb tied about him felleth no wearisomnesse at all; and that he who hathe it about him can be hurt by no poysonsome medicines, nor by any wilde beast, neither yet by the Sun it selfe'- dubious advice from Gerard

Mugwort- ‘That the traveller or wayfaring man that hathe the herb tied about him feeleth no wearisomnesse at all; and that he who hathe it about him can be hurt by no poysonsome medicines, nor by any wilde beast, neither yet by the Sun it selfe’- dubious advice from Gerard

Apparently the longest book in print after the Bible, Gerard’s Herbal is a fascinating concoction of fact, local lore, nonsense and downright dangerous advice. John Gerard was an Elizabethan physician, herbalist and botanist who tended Lord Burleigh’s gardens. In 1597 he published his famous Historie of Plantes and this informed and led the way for just about every herbal that followed. This is, of course, to ignore the fact that Gerard heavily ‘borrowed’ much of his work from others, particularly that of Rembert Dodoens. The woodcuts for the drawings were widely sourced and are probably amongst the finest of their day.

There have been a number of herbals published over the years, and countless new editions of some of the older ones. Some later editions have heavily abridged the original text or work, printing of the old plates has also suffered in some later volumes. You can pay a lot of money for a good, early copy, but with care, there are some more reasonably priced editions to be found. There are also good modern herbals though Three Points of the Compass has not really gone down that route, preferring a modern day botanists’ view on what our forebears had to say. For example, I grew up with David Bellamy on the television, his particular favourite herbalist was Culpeper. It is good that someone has time for these almost forgotten men. Bellamy tells us that apparently Culpeper himself, is buried somewhere beneath platform 11 of Liverpool Street station, London.

Potentially of more practical use than an old herbal, is Blooming Bellamy, the book that accompanied David Bellamy's BBC series, first broadcast in 1993. It is still worth watching if only for the howlingly funny view of an 'aging botanish' crawling arounf the feet of commuters on a railway station platform, while extolling the virtues of the plants to be found there

Potentially of more practical use than an old herbal, is Blooming Bellamy, the book that accompanied David Bellamy’s BBC series, first broadcast in 1993. It is still worth watching if only for the howlingly funny view of an ‘ageing botanist’ crawling around the feet of commuters on a railway station platform, while extolling the virtues of the plants to be found there

Book in featured image:

Gerard’s Herbal. The History of Plants. John Gerard. Bracken Books, 1985 edition. ISBN 0 946495 27 0

Three Points of the Compass purchased a digital copy of Culpepper's Herbal for diverting reading, though I am not sure I'll be following much of the advice- "the juice of the leaves, or rather the roots themselves, given to drink with old wine, doth wonderfully help the biting of any serpents: and the root beaten with a little salt, and laid on the place, suddenly eases the pain thereof, and helps those that are bit by a mad dog"

Three Points of the Compass purchased a digital copy of Culpepper’s Herbal for diverting reading, though I am not sure I’ll be following much of the advice- “the juice of the leaves, or rather the roots themselves, given to drink with old wine, doth wonderfully help the biting of any serpents: and the root beaten with a little salt, and laid on the place, suddenly eases the pain thereof, and helps those that are bit by a mad dog”