• Meet Reuben Arlo

    I seldom put personal family stuff on the blog, but we are so thrilled that I have to introduce you to Reuben Arlo Miles-Bishop, born 22.7.19 - our first grandchild. Younger daughter Elly and her partner James are very proud parents and Jannie & I equally proud of all of them.

    So here is the beautiful boy (9 days old in this pic.)

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  • "Ash" is here

    At last my Ash Odyssey has come to rest at the buffers. The very first advance copy of the book arrived from Italy on Friday. Every time I do a book that moment of opening the package with the very first one is loaded with anticipation of hope and dread. Wow! Thrilled to bits - L.E.G.O. my printers in Italy have done a superb job. Many thanks to Simona Causa who co-ordinated everything over there and to Jeremy Snell who kept everything rolling smoothly in the UK.

    While I'm at it - huge appreciation to Stuart Dainton at Woodland Trust and Nick Johannsen at Kent Downs AONB, who have been responsible for the funding that made this book a reality.

    The bulk of the books will arrive in this country in about ten days, giving me plenty of time to prepare for the official publication and release from 19th September.

    Do please get in touch with me either via the website or to archiemiles@btinternet.com if you'd like to reserve your copy.

    Also while I'm here - all our love goes out to our daughter Elly and her partner James for producing Rueben Arlo - their wonderful baby boy and our first grandchild, born 22.7.18.

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  • 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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