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Sussex Field Notes Blog – I was introduced to wildlife and landscape history through family walks in the countryside as a child, and the joy of wandering lanes and gazing at views has never left me. Through these blogs I hope to inspire you to look around, get outside and generally reconnect with nature. I will be sharing ‘how to’ guides, seasonal notes from nature’s own calendar, and my own thoughts on the natural world and conservation. I’ll also be reviewing some recent reads, and joining in with national actions such as #30DaysWild and #WildAboutGardensWeek.
‘The Oak By The Rife’ Local Patch Nature blogs – join me as I explore my local patch, observing nature throughout the seasons. The full patch covers a circle of a 2 mile radius from my front door in Midhurst, West Sussex, but the main focus areas are the walk to my allotment, and Stedham Village with the River Rother and lowland heaths. Sussex has many great old oak trees, often marking the line of lost field boundaries or rights of way. A ‘rife’ is a Sussex dialect word for small river, plenty of which bisect the county, most on the patch joining the serpentine River Rother as it winds through our woods, heathlands and fertile weald.
Note: in September 2018, I moved home and settled in the downland village of West Dean. My new home is in a terrace built of brick and flint, carrying a date stone above the door which reads 1810. There is a little garden where small birds frequent the brambles, and beyond, a meadow rises to a mixed hedgerow that busts with berries in the autumn months. On the communal green in front of the property, a magnificent cherry tree marks the changing seasons with blossom or coloured leaves. Further afield are footpaths and disused railway lines, forests and farmland, and the rolling flank of the downs. This new local patch demands to be explored, slowly, mindfully. The rife is replaced by a winterbourne that runs only when groundwater levels are high. Beech and yew predominate on the thin chalk soils. ‘Sussex Field Notes’ seems even more appropriate a title now than ever before. I will return to the ‘Oak by the Rife’ patch from time to time, if only to use distance to allow me to absorb the lessons and discoveries of my new home patch.
The Cutty Garden Allotment blogs – I was lucky enough to be able to take on an allotment plot in February 2016 and haven’t looked back. These blogs recount my adventures, both successful and not so fruitful, and the wildlife I encounter at Plot 12, known affectionally as The Cutty Garden Allotment.
As of winter 2017 the Cutty Garden has expanded into the plot next door, allowing for some exciting new projects and experiments.
I grow a mixture of cut flowers and edibles and endeavour to cultivate with organic and wildlife friendly methods.
Summer 2018 saw the evolution of the way I shared my allotment exploits and related subjects, with the launch of The Really Wild Gardener. This is a project which will develop slowly over time, with new content both on the blog and on the Facebook page, when possible.