Out of the Woods: the armchair guide to trees by Will Cohu

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Out of the Woods: the armchair guide to trees by Will Cohu

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Buy Out of the Woods: the armchair guide to trees by Will Cohu at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Popular Science
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It might be a guide to trees but there's a lot of hard information delivered in a user-friendly manner and lots of humour. Definitely recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: May 2015
Publisher: Short Books
ISBN: 978-1780722351

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Most people probably accept trees as, well, trees. They're there and they're green. Some are lighter, some darker. Some are taller and other go for width, but as for telling them apart there were few that I could identify until recently. I knew that the big tree at the bottom of next door's garden is a sycamore, but only because I heard someone say 'that sycamore is going to cause problems with the drains of the flats at the back'. I was OK on white horse chestnuts too, but only when the kids were collecting conkers, so I was rather pleased when Will Cohu's book landed on my desk and I opened it expecting to find lots of pictures with all the details which I probably wouldn't remember.

There are some pictures - rather gorgeous ones too - in full colour (most unusual in a paperback) over eight pages in the middle of the book. You're going to read about the trees and you'd better pay attention because every so often you're going to get a revision test. Don't worry - nobody's going to end up in detention if they get the answers wrong. In fact, you're probably going to end up laughing. I know I did.

I was glad that I had a lot of trust in the author, having read and enjoyed The Wolf Pit a couple of years ago. It was going to be easy to rely on Cohu's affection for and understanding of the countryside - otherwise I might have baulked at the thought of reading a book which contained myriad tips for recognition and rich in tree-biography and gossip... Gossip? Somehow I doubted it, but it's probably the best description of the content, as the trees come off the page as real characters. I've read far too many fiction books where the characters didn't seem as real as the smallest and least significant of these trees.

There's a lot of hard information - serious botany - included in the book but it's delivered with a light hand and a lot of humour. In places it's laugh-out-loud funny, but does it work? Well, yes it does: I was walking to the village with my husband when he wondered about a rather attractive tree by the side of the road. I explained that it was a red horse chestnut - beautiful in the summer but unfortunately there would be no autumn colour... I didn't know that I knew that!

The book was an excellent, informative read and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Once you've mastered your trees you might like to take up birdwatching. We really enjoyed the approach in How to be a BAD Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes.

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Buy Out of the Woods: the armchair guide to trees by Will Cohu at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Out of the Woods: the armchair guide to trees by Will Cohu at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Out of the Woods: the armchair guide to trees by Will Cohu at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Out of the Woods: the armchair guide to trees by Will Cohu at Amazon.com.

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