Firth of Tay

The river is tidal for many miles upstream, and the current strong. To an observer on the southern shore the island midway across the estuary’s breadth is deceptively close. You might think you could swim to it, and explore undisturbed its unpeopled expanse. But whatever anecdote your reaching the island inspired, the journey back would … Continue reading Firth of Tay

The Nature Writing of Jim Crumley

"The landscape matters first and last for its own sake. It owes us nothing, yet it offers immeasurable rewards to those who revere it." April saw the publication of the third of Jim Crumley's seasonal nature studies. Following Autumn and Winter, we now have The Nature of Spring. Crumley is a well-established name in nature … Continue reading The Nature Writing of Jim Crumley

‘How the world sustains’: Kathleen Jamie

I once made a mixtape for Kathleen Jamie. Two, in fact. In my first year at University, Kathleen Jamie was the writer-in-residence. For the weekly writers' group meetings, her and three students (I was one) decamped from her office on Dundee's Nethergate to a nearby café or pub to rant about the Tory government of … Continue reading ‘How the world sustains’: Kathleen Jamie

Mike Tomkies: Wilderness(e) man

"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe" wrote Donne. Well, Mike Tomkies tried his damnedest. Tomkies's books sold in their thousands in the 1980s, but in today's Nature Writing Revival he is nowhere to be found. Both my Dad and cousin Colin (with whom I went birdwatching in my teens, chugging around Fife … Continue reading Mike Tomkies: Wilderness(e) man

King Coal’s Graveyard: a walk in Midlothian mining country

"Collieries where a thousand men had laboured for a hundred years became silent fields around a concrete shaft-cap." Neal Ascherson, Stone Voices I've lived in Midlothian for 13 years. The visual signifiers of the county's industrial heritage are largely gone: demolished or overgrown. It wasn't just coal: shorelines on either bank of the Forth once … Continue reading King Coal’s Graveyard: a walk in Midlothian mining country

Here Comes A’body

Visitors flocking to the sleek new V&A in Dundee who opt to explore the city further may, depending on the childhood they had, be bemused by the statues in the city centre. A stout cowboy, striding along the Nethergate and hauling a recalcitrant bulldog, is about to be ambushed by a catapult-wielding adolescent girl. A … Continue reading Here Comes A’body