About

This is a blog about nature, books and a love of beekeeping - set in the Yorkshire Dales.

My family and I live in what was my grandmother's old house, in the dale of Nidderdale. This isn't the most famous of Yorkshire's dales - the ribbon of river valleys in Northern England that so often remind me of Tolkien's Shire - but to my mind it is one of the most beautiful. With moorland, reservoirs, gentle meadows and bleak hinderlands, it has always been the place I felt most at home.

Growing up, I lived in London and came to Nidderdale in the holidays. After university I worked in journalism both in the UK and abroad. It was after marrying my wife that we took the plunge and relocated to Yorkshire. My grandmother had died and her house was falling apart at the seams. We began to rebuild it, and to tackle the overgrown garden and fields. And both my wife and I focused on new careers. We both turned to writing, and while my wife has set up her own brilliant brand consultancy, I grew increasingly in love with plants and design. I completed a three year degree in garden design in May 2016 and have now set up my own garden design business.

My first novel, a young adult story set in Nidderdale Snow Summer, was published in the US, Canada, Italy and Germany in 2016.

With a huge amount of local help and goodwill in 2014 we set up the NiddFest festival of nature - a weekend festival in Nidderdale celebrating books and nature. The UK poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, added her stardust by offering to become our patron.

My wife and I arrived with our adopted cats, got a goofy Italian Spinone and in 2012 started a family. And all that time bees have been part of our lives. I first took note of them at our wedding. We had made table arrangements with wildflowers from our fields and bees came into our marquee and moved from one table to the next; quiet, unobtrusive, barely noticed in the chaos. My interest grew and I took a local beekeeping course, getting my first swarm in 2012.

Today I have two healthy hives. Other than my general thoughts on nature, gardens and books, in this blog and at home I aim to:

1. Catalogue all the wildflowers and trees on our land and to learn about their place in folklore and history, their medicinal properties and their attraction to pollinators. I've started this here.
2. Catalogue the bees and insects, butterflies and moths and the birds on our land and write about their habits and the folklore attached to them.
3. Learn, through my own research the help of local wildlife organisations, everything I can about the ecosystem of Sparrowhawk Farm.
4. Carefully manage and replant the fields around Sparrowhawk Farm with pollinator-friendly wildflowers and trees, so as to make the site as ideal as possible for wildlife.
5. Improve the farm through hard graft and never chemicals.