A Walk on the North Downs Way, by Frances Jones

A couple of weeks ago, I walked part of the North Downs Way with a friend. Not a particularly unusual event, normally, but many of us have had rapidly to adjust our expectations of normal over the past months. I had wandered through the fields around my home almost every day since lockdown, charting Spring…

Signs of Spring, by Frances Jones

My walk through the woods has become significantly more important for me since the announcement came that the country was going into lockdown. The song of the blackbird, the sight of a butterfly; these and many more moments have become more precious as the freedom to move whenever and wherever is reduced. After a number…

Bringing Nature into the Music Lesson, by Frances Jones

On New Year’s Eve, in a cosy cafe over pots of tea, a friend put a question to the group: ‘So what are you going to do to save the planet this year?’ I don’t fly, and have for a long time tried to tread lightly and shop sustainably, although I can always do better….

Winter Walks in the Vineyard, by Frances Jones

The bright sunshine urged me out of doors this Sunday morning, and I pulled on boots and a raincoat in readiness for a walk. Long-standing readers of this blog may recall I previously wrote about experiencing nature in the city. Living in the midst of a built-up area, surrounded by blocks of flats and busy…

In the Company of Trees, by Frances Jones

Yesterday I joined a walk on Wimbledon Common led by Peter Fiennes, author of an absorbing and beautiful book on trees. Oak, Ash and Thorn sets out the case for Britain’s woodland and I liked the idea of discussing this subject within the woodland itself. We gathered, rather aptly, under an oak, its crown providing…

Winter walks in the city, by Frances Jones

I’ve been making a conscious effort, since January 1st, to notice nature in the grey bleakness of the city in winter. One morning last week, buttoned up against the irrepressible sleet and the bitter cold, I was walking fast through an industrial park in South London, having deposited my car at the mechanic. Following my…

The Maple, the Beech and the Lime, by Frances Jones

Last week I bought a book. A slim book, with a green and white cover. It was called ‘The Tree’ and was written by John Fowles. I didn’t know anything about it, except that I liked the title and the soft colours on the cover, thereby ignoring the oft-quoted advice on how not to judge…

Autumn in Suburbia, by Frances Jones

I was returning home from work along the scenic route, having been tempted by the sunshine to prolong my journey. I followed the path along the river, which was a busy, but pleasant, highway with cyclists, runners and pedestrians, some pausing and taking a slower pace than they might otherwise in cooler weather. The trees…

Cyclamen and Summer’s End, by Frances Jones

A late afternoon in the final week of summer and I found myself taking a detour along the edge of woodland on my local common. The place was bathed in a vivid light, bright enough to illuminate the trees in their various shades of green, and there was a strong breeze that whipped around my…

Walking in the Yorkshire Dales, by Frances Jones

The Yorkshire village of Malham was basking in the mid-morning sunshine when we set off for a circular walk up over the hills via Gordale Scar. It was a pleasant temperature for walking and we started at a good pace, passing several other walkers out on this sunny bank holiday Saturday. Not far down the…

Butterflies on Box Hill, by Frances Jones

After weeks of hot, dry weather, the River Mole meandering gently through its wooded valley looked particularly welcoming. Dogs were splashing about in the water and willows dipped and danced in the breeze at the water’s edge. We took the Stepping Stones across the river and headed up the path through the woods. Meadow Browns…

The Wildlife of Brompton Cemetery, by Frances Jones

Rising particularly early one morning and feeling it was a good time to get outdoors, I set off for Brompton Cemetery in West London. I have travelled past this cemetery many times on the bus but have only once visited, on a similarly warm summer’s day when I took a book to a stone archway…