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My Wood (published September 2017).
Most snakes regularly bask in in the sun and rely on its warmth to bring their bodies up to working temperature. This activity is of special importance to adders who spend a large part of their waking lives sunbathing.
Adders choose their basking spots very carefully to be at exactly the correct angle to the sun’s rays, and will move several times during the day to keep in direct sunlight. Favourite basking sites are devoid of thick vegetation; a path or track or an area cropped by livestock or rabbits, but always next to thick cover into which the snake can disappear if threatened. In particularly favourable locations, several adders will often lie together in the spring, sometimes coiled on top of each other.
Adders will adopt various basking techniques according to the temperature. On cool days or in weak sunshine the snake will lie at full length or in a loose loop. To expose as much skin to the sun as possible, it will flatten its body to an almost comical degree.
As the day warms, the snake will lie in tighter coils, re-arranging itself every so often to gain the greatest benefit from the sun. On hotter days snakes will lie partially concealed by vegetation, changing position now and then to expose a different part of the body. Very hot sunshine will drive them into the shade completely.
Photo below: An adder and a peacock butterfly drawn to the same sunny spot (from The Private Life of Adders by Rodger McPhail – £14.99)
We've all been in the situation where we go to our medicine cabinets for some remedy or treatment and find we've run out. But there's no need to panic – the average kitchen also contains many handy but often overlooked remedies for treating common ailments or household emergencies. The products for these remedies include herbs and spices, fruit and vegetables, condiments and dressings, oils and vinegars, and many other common and familiar items.
For instance, sunburn, insect (including mosquito) bites and hot, itchy skin can all be treated by rubbing the area with the inside of the banana skin for cooling relief. Banana skins can also be used daily on the backs of hands to lighten age and liver spots.
Kitchen Medicine (written by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal - authors of the best-selling Hedgerow Medicine) describes the wealth of healing and emergency remedies that sit unused and idle in the kitchen.
The ingredients are all easily found in the kitchen although in some cases they are exotic in origin (just think of tea, coffee and chocolate).
The ailments and illnesses that Kitchen Medicine (£16.99 HB) can address are comprehensively listed, making diagnosis and cure both immediate and easy – and it's now also available as an ebook (£12.75) too!
Land's End to John O'Groats (published September 2017).
The annual event of Royal Swan Upping will take place this year on Monday 17 July at Sunbury Lock cut and will finish at Abingdon Bridge on Friday 21 July. The Queen’s Swan Warden is responsible for collecting data and assessing the health of young cygnets, including checking for injuries. The teams of Royal Swan Uppers in scarlet uniforms row skiffs and are joined by Swann Uppers from the Vinters’ and Dyers’ livery companies. Children are invited to view some of the cygnets at close quarters en route.
The event forms a chapter in photographer and wildlife author Malcolm Schuyl’s informative book The Swan – which is a stunning full-colour natural history of the Mute swan.
The Swan normally retails at £20 but throughout July you can buy it through out website for just £10 plus p&p!
Diggory Hadoke's Hammer Guns has been reviewed in the July issue of Australian Shooter Magazine - the magazine for the Sporting Shooter's Association of Australia. The book was reviewed bySam Talbot, Communications Officer, who said: 'Hammer Guns in Theory and Practice is a great read for any firearm aficionado or an impressive coffee table book for just about anyone else.' You can read Sam's review in full here:
Congratulations to our author, Roger Evans, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday honours list this month for services to the dairy industry.
Tired of spending out a fortune on dry flies? The easiest and quickest ones to tie yourself are from that non-sink material, CDC. Leon Link’s £14.99 guide, Tying Flies with CDC, is a step-by-step easy to follow practical large-format book. Here is one of his recommendations: the killing but simple F Fly devised by Fratnik. It’s easy to tie, it lasts well, it is visible and easy to see – and it is extremely effective, for trout and grayling on rivers and lakes. It is just a hook with a few CDC feathers bound to it with tying thread and cut down to size. The body is tied with fine waxed thread. Simple.
Some of the best cycling country in Britain is surely in the beautiful Forest of Bowland AONB Most of its roads are minor and they pass through a large area classified as AONB. Cycling the winding hilly roads suddenly rewards with a dramatic viewpoint as the routes cross important watersheds.
Photos from The Forest of Bowland (£20)
Red corn poppy, blue lady's finger, white helleborine and pink thrift all flower this month. Wild Flowers of Britain (£8.99)
If you are taking your puppy on holiday with you and are anxious about problems you might encounter on the journey, then in the Common Problems section of her invaluable book Training Your Puppy (£9.99), professional dog-trainer Fiona Baird offers the following practical advice:
Nymphing - the New Way by Jonathan White has been reviewed by Jeffrey Prest in Trout Fisherman. Jeffrey said: 'Instructional titles titles aren't normally in the frame for my 'fishing book of the year' label, but that changes now, with a book that is informative and elegant in equal measure.' You can read Jeffrey's review in full here:
June is the month when wildflowers are at perhaps their most varied in terms of palette: yellow iris, blue monkshood, purple melancholy thistle among many more. Wildflowers of Britain (£8.99)
Peter McLeod, author of GT – A Flyfisher's Guide to Giant Trevally, has been catching these ‘gangsters of the flats’ in the Seychelles and the photo below is from his most recent trip. If you are considering crossing the world in pursuit of this ultimate thrill species, it really is worth investing in his book which tells you everything you need to know in order to make your fishing holiday of a lifetime a fulfilling experience!
Did you know that felt was made from rabbit fur, so when hats went out of fashion in the 1950s, it accelerated the end of the trade in rabbit pelts.
Basil Rought, owner of the Brandon rabbit factory (below left), was presented with this 1951 trilby (below right) from best silver rabbit fur from his own factory.
Both images taken from The Rabbit by Jill Mason (RRP £20)
The Scottish Wildcat (published September 2017).
Wayside Medicine is the first of our colour books to be published this year. A stunning new practical hardback by the authors of the best-selling Hedgerow Medicine, this book teaches you how to gather and use forgotten plants to make your own simple, everyday cures.
Ground Elder is the bane of the gardener’s life and it is flowering in hedgerows, waysides and yes, flowerbeds, up and down the country in June. But think positively! Not for nothing is it called Goutweed. Parkinson, apothecar to King James II, said that ground elder would ‘helpe the cold Goute and Sciatica’. Tea made from its leaves can ease sciatica and a poultice of its leaves is also used for soothing burns, stings and bites.
But maybe the most satisfying gardener’s ‘revenge’ on ground elder might be to eat it: it has an anise-like flavour and the frittata below is one of the authors’ favourite dishes:
This is a vegan version that we often eat, made with all sorts of wild greens, but ground elder is our favourite.
Preheat oven to 175˚C (350˚F). Put in a blender: 1 cup gram flour (chick pea flour), 2 cups water, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 or 2 peeled cloves of garlic and 1 teaspoon turmeric powder. Blend until smooth, then set aside to rest while you sauté the vegetables.
Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add sliced mushrooms, chunks of cooked potato, and a couple of handfuls of chopped ground elder leaves.
When the vegetables are cooked, pour the blended liquid over them and cook until the edges of the batter are set, then transfer into the preheated oven for 15 minutes. The frittata should be set, and gently browned on top.
Slice and serve warm.