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Mountain climbing: Why am I doing this to Myself?

There's something euphoric and insane about the act of mountain climbing. A bizarre spectacle, that is almost worshipped in some areas of our small, odd island, where brightly-clad people of all ages, backgrounds, and fitness levels go to areas of hills and decide, without questioning, that scaling one would be an excellent way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
For me, this strange desire was bred in from childhood - most, if not all, of my childhood memories are in the Lake District or the Derbyshire Dales or the Yorkshire Moors; anywhere but the rolling agricultural landscapes of Hertfordshire, where I grew up. When I first decided to move away from home, to go to university, again it was this landscape that drew me in, that made me feel something that the gentle grasslands of my home county could not.
Maybe it's my Northern blood - for hundreds of years, Lancashire-born family on my Dad's side have been throwing themselves at hills and hoping that they come back in one piec…
Recent posts

Country Roads (Take Me Home)

I am not, and I don't think I ever will be, a 'city girl'. I was brought up in Hertfordshire which, as I found when I first arrived at university, is apparently a county seen as 'basically London innit?' No. For the most part, no, it is not.

My Hertfordshire has very little to do with London, or any other city for that matter. My Hertfordshire is a small town with a street of shops and a street of restaurants, a wide town park, and beyond it fields on fields of crops, spattered here and there with tiny villages of increasingly ridiculous names (my favourite is 'Loudwater', because it truly belongs to a Tolkien novel). It's home to narrow country lanes and wide open spaces and the occasional forest. Not well known (9/10 people assume that I said 'Herefordshire' when they ask where I come from), nor very large, and certainly not a 'city' place, it has put deep roots in me that long to be surrounded by skies and grass, not buildings.

But s…

Deep roots are not reached by frost.

A couple of months ago, as happens every so often, I was sent a survey from a student discount organisation with which I have an account. Often I completely disregard these - and if I do complete them, it's the multiple choice answers only, I'm never engaged enough to write anything longer.

This particular survey, however, was from the Woodlands Trust. I'm a Zoology student and a conservationist, and it's safe to say that I care about trees, so I was more than willing to put in a little extra effort. The questions were as you would expect, until one in particular: "Is there any tree in your life with special significance?". I can imagine a lot of people answered a quick 'no' to this question and asked themselves what sort of a person did have a significant tree in their life. 
I am the sort of person that does. My community are the sort of people who do.
A month or so after, when I was home from university at Christmas, I took my dog on a walk of whic…

In All Honesty: To Myself and To You

To anyone and no one; and mostly to myself.

I have not posted here in a very long time. To have to say that is not what I wanted when I started this blog. But it is a fact, and I will not pretend that it isn't.

The truth is, that sometimes it can be extraordinarily hard to work out how you really want to spend your time - and even harder to act on it. When I first made this blog, it was because I thought that in the future I might like to become a wildlife or nature journalist, and that to have a blog would be a good idea. I put a lot of pressure on myself to write like a journalist, because I thought that's what I wanted...but all it did was make me feel that I couldn't write what I wanted to write. I thought that I needed to do Serious, Meticulously Researched Articles about important global issues; about conservation; about things that I am passionate about...but that honestly I'm neither informed enough to write about nor blessed with time to research, as I would …

The Epic Ballad of Springtime

It begins with the whispering of a wind which speaks of warmth and Winter's ending. The soft sprinkling of dew on grass that isn't frozen to tiny ice castles. It begins with a sun whose rays are nourishing, slanting through trees whose leaves are buds of green, waiting to burst forward. 
It begins with blossom on a cherry tree, the lining of a street with radiant blooms and the slow hum of pollinating insects; the unhurried waltz of a bumblebee whose legs are stained with pollen. Listen. The insects sing of a Spring awakening as the slim, delicate form of an Orange-Tip Butterfly settles on a newly budded wild mustard plant somewhere by your toes. 
'I want to do to you what Spring does to cherry trees': you read the creased words by Neruda and look up from the book as a blossom falls beside you, its petals a tiny perfection of pink, winking the sun towards you with all the hope of new beginnings. Feel. 
It spreads from the cherry trees to the woodland, where trees whic…

Easter: Eggs, Evolution and Existentialism

Easter is the time of year when card-designers get highly excited about Spring. You can't move without a picture of a lamb, or a chick, or a daffodil, dipping it's yellow head softly in an imaginary breeze; a motion Wordsworth would be proud of, immortalised on a card. As a fan of daffodils, chicks and lambs, I'm not against this in the slightest. But, as an aspiring biologist, as I receive my colourful Easter eggs from kindly relations, and read the cards whose pretty yellow borders sing of sunny Spring, I can't help but wonder what made the human race act like this - why is it that we are so devoted to what is essentially just a Sunday? What makes us hold onto this concept that, because of a story that approximately only 32% of the world population believe in, this day is a special time deserving of celebration?

The surface answers are obvious: for Christians, Easter is a celebration of Jesus' resurrection, raised from the dead, from death on the cross for the s…

From Death comes Life

There is a small churchyard a few roads from my house. It's where I was christened, where my mother rang the bells for twenty years, where my younger brother was christened and countless family friends married. Though I myself am not overtly religious, I still value the church for its memories, and for the tranquillity that can always be found there.
Surrounded on three sides by roads, one of which I walk home along every day, the quiet and stillness maintained between its walls are a small miracle, and this time of year, the yew trees and tall building are lit below with a riotous carpet of colour, the beginnings of Spring.
As I first enter the churchyard, through the small wooden gate that so many different versions of me over the years has passed through, the sound of the road dies away and is replaced by the soft song of a blackbird, hopping along the path in front of me. As I crouch to admire the tree's blanketing cover of crocuses, a robin watches me from the branches…