Park life

Happy birthday to Britain’s National Parks! This year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Act of Parliament that created, to date, our 15 National Parks and 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). A shout out in particular to the newest kid on the block, the South Downs National Park, only established nine years…

Under the leaf litter

Could there be a more glorious name for a fungus than Scurfy Deceiver? The Powdery Piggyback comes a close second maybe, but how can you not have a soft spot for a mushroom that sounds like a ribald Elizabethan insult! The world of mycology teems with the most evocative of monikers. From the fluorescent Lemon…

Not just for Halloween…

Ready for a riddle? What fruit was once thought to be both a great freckle remover and a cure for snake bite? May have helped ward off scurvy among early American settlers and is packed with nutrients that support heart health? What a shame that, in the UK at least, we only really pay tribute…

Leaf peeping this side of the pond

Broadcasting from New England last week, the BBC’s Autumnwatch team proudly declaimed it the best place in the world to witness the drama of the season. And the symphony of rich autumnal colours erupting among the region’s 6.5 billion trees certainly looked fabulously fiery on camera. But there are also glorious leaf peeping spots to…

The joy of conkers

Every October the school playground would become a combat zone, given over to the deadly serious pursuit of conkers. The sound of smashing filled the air, followed by a whoop of joy and a triumphant declaration: “this one’s a kinger,” “mine’s a sixer”, “Geoff’s got a niner”. Other than playing marbles in the drains there…

Natural healing

It was National GetOutside Day in the UK on Sunday but surely every day should be a #GetOutside day? One project’s findings earlier this year found that the positive mental health gains of spending time in the great outdoors can last for as long as seven hours afterwards. Another last month indicated that just ten…

All about apples

Knobby Russet. Duck’s Bill. Dr Hogg. Not a string of insults but rather three varieties of apple out of some 30 or so to be found in Sussex. The smallest variety, the Golden Pippin, is also the oldest and has been cultivated in the county since the 17th century. One of the largest, the ruddy…