by Chris Bertram on July 20, 2003

I’m just back from a week’s holiday in Pembrokeshire with my family. I’ve been walking, swimming in the sea, fishing for mackerel and identifying wild flowers. Pembrokeshire trees, especially the hawthorn, are often attractively distorted by the wind: so here’s some crooked timber for the site:


I don’t expect the flower identification thing to be for everyone. My own interest may be Rousseauiste in origin (see the Reveries of the Solitary Walker). But I can thoroughly recommend it for its cooling effect upon the soul (listening to a great soprano has the same effect on me) and for its intrinsic interest. There’s something very satisfying about being able to walk through a landscape and read it as one goes – sheepsbit scabious, bittersweet, mint, watercress, meadowsweet, hemp agrimony etc etc. Out on a walk, I usually take a good pocket guide with me, but it is also good to look through Richard Mabey’s incomparable Flora Britannica once I get home. Mabey’s book not only contains beautiful photographs, but also extended commentary on each plant, its medicinal and culinary uses and its social history.

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PG 07.20.03 at 10:48 pm

:-) I wonder if this is comparable to the particular pleasure derived from reading someone like Tom Stoppard when you are clued in on the references. Landscapes are pleasing for being beautiful — just as Stoppard is enjoyable for being funny and touching — but you get something extra when you know what things are.

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