The English Countryside (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts) by Ruth Binney

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The English Countryside (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts) by Ruth Binney

Category: Animals and Wildlife
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A collection of interesting and well-researched facts about the English countryside. There's more depth than you might expect from such a compact book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: October 2015
Publisher: Rydon Publishing
ISBN: 978-1910821015

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I live in the countryside and spend as much time as the weather will allow exploring it, so the chance to read Ruth Binney's The English Countryside was too good to be missed. We've met Ruth before at Bookbag and we know that she writes well and interestingly, but just one thing was worrying me about this book. It's a hardback and beautifully presented but its the size of book that you slip into a pocket or handbag. Would it be rather superficial?

In actual fact it's anything but. There's a surprising amount of information gathered into two sections. The first - The Shape of the Countryside is concerned with the physical land, and not just the land itself but the myths and legends associated with the area. I was delighted to find something new about the Cow and Calf Rocks in Ilkley, which I can almost see from my office window. Local rumour has it that there was once also a Bull which was quarried for his stone. The piece on leucippotomy - the art of carving horses into chalk uplands was fascinating as was Here Be Giants about the other figures which have been carved into hillsides, although I did find references to the Cerne Abbas Giant's 'appendage' and 'manhood' just a little bit coy.

The second part looks at the living countryside. (I couldn't understand why How to Date an English Hedge is in the first part, but Relics of the Past: Woodlands in History is in the second - but that's just me being rather picky.) This is the part which appealed to me most (but that's simply down to personal choice and not quality) as there were some absolute nuggets such as where to find England's elusive orchids and another piece on our mighty oaks. I've selected my personal favourites, but there are 97 to choose from with lots of pen and ink drawings (particularly loved the one of the goldcrest, which weighs the same as a 5p piece) and it would make the perfect book to pop into a pocket for those inevitable waiting room moments.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. It's a lovely book in itself as well as a great primer which will take you to other areas of study.

For more about trees we can recommend Out of the Woods: the armchair guide to trees by Will Cohu. We can also recommend Claxton: Notes From a Small Planet by Mark Cocker. If you enjoy colouring pictures of wild animals, have a look at Field Guide: Creatures Great and Small (Field Guides) by Lucy Engelman.

Buy The English Countryside (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts) by Ruth Binney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The English Countryside (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts) by Ruth Binney at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The English Countryside (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts) by Ruth Binney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The English Countryside (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts) by Ruth Binney at Amazon.com.


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