• A few sample spreads to whet your appetite

    As you will have seen from the Home Page my new book "Ash" is not far away so I thought you might like a bit of a preview of what's in store.

    Please go to the Books Pages if you would like to know more and/or email me to reserve your copy.

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  • "Ash" is on its way

    My new book "Ash" - a complete overview of all aspects of the ash tree in Britain, mentioned in passing on the blog a couple of times, has now gone to the printers and will be officially published on 19th September. In a day or two there will be a dedicated page on the website for the book.

    In the meantime please feel free to email either through the website or to archiemiles@btinternet.com for further details, to receive a sampler pdf or to make a pre-publication order. In the latter instance you will be contacted in September with an invoice and upon payment your book will be dispatched.

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  • Puffins, rocks and a bleeding yew

    Escaped last week to the pleasures of Pembrokeshire with the main aim of visiting Skomer to see puffins for the first time in my life. We were in luck - the ferry was going on the Wednesday. It doesn't always run if the wind comes from the north, making safe passage a bit dodgy, and even on our return crossing with the wind heading round that way it was pretty lively. However, it was all well worth while - 30,000 puffins on Skomer, and as soon as you land the air is thick with them. These fabulous little birds nest in burrows on the cliff tops, mainly at two particular hotspots on the island. Many are quite happy with you only a matter of a few feet away - guess they have just become so used to visitorss. Trying to get that classic image of a bird with a mouthful of sandeels is harder than you'd think as they tend to fly in and dive straight down the burrows to feed their young, but I got one crack at a bird that posed beautifully for a few seconds before disappearing underground. The other speciality of the island is the Manz shearwater, but they tend to be nocturnal, so we didn't catch a glimpse. The flowers on the island are pretty spectacular too - vast swathes of red campion and hummocks of white bladder campion, and (although we'd missed the best of it) thrift.

    We spent some time in one or two of the little coves just marvelling at all the different rock formations - very clear illustrations of strata upheaval and some great colouring. I wish I knew more about geology, but it doesn't diminish the enjoyment. Who needs art when you have rocks like these?

    Heading back home on Thursday we stopped off at St. Brynach's church in Nevern to have a squint at the Bleeding Yew, a tree that I featured a few years back in my Heritage Trees Wales (soon to be reprinted). An avenue of eight trees leads from the gate to the church door and it's the second on the right that is named the Bleeding Yew because of a sticky red blood-like fluid that exudes from the site of a bough cut off in the nineteenth century. This weird phenomenon has attracted various legends and beliefs. Christians believe it weeps for the crucifixion of Christ - the wounds symbolising where He was nailed to the cross. Pagans, on the other hand, see a vision of the Earth Mother, the bleeding redolent of menstruation. Another tale tells of a monk who was hanged for some unknown crime, but protesting his innocence he cried out, 'If you hang me, guiltless as I am, these trees will bleed for me.'

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  • It's been a while...

    Yes, it has been a while since I last dropped anything into the blog, largely because I've been going full tilt finishing my forthcoming book - "Ash" - of which more very soon. The book is done and awaiting transfer to my printer in Italy.

    Meanwhile I took a break from the frenetic goings-on last week. On a day off I wondered into one of the local charity shops & discovered a little book called "In Search of Wales" by H.V. Morton, published in 1932. Morton was one of the most celebrated travel and countryside writers of his day although his style seems quite dated and some of his observations of the quaint country folk he met even a little patronising. However, whether it was Morton or a gifted editor who chose the photographs for his book I know not, but the quality of the few sepia images is something special. The printers even took the trouble to mount the double-page spread images so that the gutter doesn't break them in half. Inspired! I would think that some of the landscapes will have had printed-in skies, but the compositions are excellent and the Cockle Women of Penclawdd picture is a little masterpiece. How come I have never seen this picture before?

    See what you think.

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  • Sidetracked by ice-artscapes

    When I was up in Scotland about three weeks back I was out on the scout for some good early morning ash tree pictures and stepped down to the water's edge of the Dundonnell River and was completely sidetracked by the ice pattern lying over the flowing river beneath. It's a little after the event but I was so blown away by the pictures I found I thought you'd like to see some of them. A bit like cloudscapes I do love the way these images are transient and irrepeatable. It would have been amazing to watch them forming overnight.

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Archie's Blog

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