Monthly Archives: December 2017

Non-fiction masterclass at Gladstone’s Library

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I’m really looking forward to my month-long residency at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, Flintshire: the UK’s only prime ministerial library. It describes itself as

…a residential library and meeting place which is dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning for open-minded individuals and groups, who are looking to explore pressing questions and to pursue study and research in an age of distraction and easy solutions… It was founded by the great Victorian statesman himself and, following his death in 1898, became the national memorial to his life and work.

I’ll be there throughout the month of May, drifting in and out of the library and grounds, with my nose in a book. Come and join me!

I’m running two public events during my time there: an evening session on the 8 May during which I’ll discuss ‘making the personal political’ (£15, which also includes a copy of Thicker Than Water), and a day-long masterclass in the techniques of creative non-fiction on 26 May (£35, including lunch). There are rooms available on a B&B basis and a bistro on site.

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What makes good nature writing?

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I continue to edit and conduct interviews for the literary website Five Books. I was particularly pleased with this recent interview with polymath barrister, vet, academic and author Charles Foster, about the best nature writing of 2017, and what it means to be a good nature writer. I was delighted too to see it picked up by The Browser, which called it “a rather wonderful conversation”.

As you may or may not know, I write quite a lot about the landscape and natural world (for example: this Granta essay on plantation forestry and the Flow Country, an upcoming piece I have written for the same publication about red deer in the Highlands, and a series of entries for the Guardian’s Country Diary slot) so it’s a subject close to my heart, and it was a pleasure to speak to Charles, whose writing (and clarity of thought and purpose) I admire greatly.

Full text can be found on the Five Books website here, or after the fold.

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Pack horses and box hitches: a how to

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I spent the summer of 2017 riding 500 miles through the Rocky Mountains with my partner Rich and three horses called Pinto, Pepper and Numero. I’ve been posting information about the trip online, as well as my trail diary, for anyone with an interest in the journey or backcountry horsemanship more generally. All previous entries on this subject can be found here.

I was warned before we set off that the majority of long distance journeys by horse fail due to problems with the pack horse. Certainly it’s true that this is an aspect of horsemanship that is rarely explored and mastered, at least in the UK, and I found  relatively little information about it readily accessible. So here is a brief explainer for anyone who might be interested.

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