Tag Archives: John Lewis-Stempel

Day 3

I know, it’s already starting to look like I’ve given up on titles.

However, it does save time.

I have just finished Diddly Squat – A Year on the Farm, by Jeremy Clarkson.b My sister gave it to me for Christmas and it’s a great book, covering the trials and tribulations of modern farming and Clarkson’s life as a farmer. Clarkson is a genuinely funny and thought-provoking writer, even if he is also dull and irritating in large doses. The book is just about short enough to avoid him becoming irritating.

However, that in itself is a fault. Read John Lewis-Stempel and you generally get a decent sized book with plenty of content. Clarkson’s book is a touch thin, with lots of white space inside, and quite a big font. In other words, it’s his newspaper columns which have been padded out to book size. As I say, it’s a mixed blessing – short enough to stop him getting on my nerves, but not long enough to seem good value.  It’s a good read, but poor value on a per word basis.

We had beef on New Year’s Day. With it we had horseradish sauce. It wasn’t our normal brand (TESCO) as they were sold out so we had Colman’s instead. Good brand, more expensive but you get what you pay for. Or so I thought. It was like being attacked by a chemical weapon. My mouth burned, my eyes watered, I fought for breath . . .

It was like the time I ate part of a horseradish leaf to see what it was like. It was so bad that I have never felt the urge to try it again. My experience on Sunday was every bit as bad.

Julia said she thought it was quite bland.

And you know what? For the next few tastes it was almost tasteless, the it hit me again, before fading away. It’s like Half of it was the strongest horseradish I’ve ever had, and half of it was the most bland. All in all, it was the worst jar of horseradish I’ve ever had and I’m inclined to throw it away. It’s there on the shelf in the kitchen, eyeing me up, daring me to try again. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with comestibles. If it’s hot, I’m not sure I can bear the pain. If it’s bland, I will have just wasted a beef sandwich.


Lavinia sent me a link to the paperback.


From Bed to Verse

Post 2,313

28th January 2021

As usual, nothing of importance to relate. I woke while it was still half-dark and had to look at my phone for a time check. The clocks went forward in the night so we lost an hour and I can no longer tell the time by the degree of light outside.

Temperatures have dropped from yesterday, it is windy and there are flecks of rain on the window. From what I remember of setting up my WordPress account it would be called something like “Standard Autumn”  or even  “Just Grey”.

All the normal things happened, the ones I normally filter out of my daily posts – trouser troubles, stiff knees, feeling the gaps when I brush my teeth.

I found myself thinking about prostates this morning. It’s my age. part of me says that I really ought to have a serious conversation with a doctor. Part of me says that I do not want to be part of any conversation that occurs whilst I have my back turned to a stranger wearing rubber gloves. Even worse, a conversation with someone I know, who is wearing rubber gloves.

That led me on to Richard Mabey. When I was last in male urology I was in the middle of reading one of his books and Clare Pooley suggested another of his books when I was convalescing. He ended up in male urology at one point and used the experience to write about water, internal and external, in a a philosophical manner. I used the experience to complain about the NHS, including sandwiches made with white bread and two cancelled operations. I seem to lack the spiritual dimension needed to be a great nature writer. I could, however, have had a lucrative and fulfilling career as a management consultant in the NHS if my life had turned out differently. Or as John Lewis-Stempel. I wouldn’t mind being John Lewis-Stempel.

This is an interesting thought but not one I’m going to dwell on as i have things to do. Poems don’t write themselves, and, as yet, there is no such thing as self-spreading marmalade. That would be a great advance – no more balancing knives and pots on corners of my desk where papers and pill packets haven’t spread. No more juggling, no more sticky patches on the desk, or fluff on toast.

I must make a note of that. But first I must write poems. I am feeling in a very Limerick mood.

A Suffolk blogger called Pooley,
has a name that rhymes with Gilhooley.
It could have been worse,
in this sort of verse,
it often ends up rhymed with…

…that probably needs a bit of work. It may also not work for Americans as I am not sure. I just checked the dictionary and things got even more confused. On top of that, and following the nature writer theme, I find there is a man called Tristan Gooley. Words fail me. And that is not a common occurrence. And this was going to be such a subtle ending…


Book Review – The Wildlife Garden

The Wildlife Garden – John Lewis-Stempel

Paperback: 176 pages

Publisher: How To Books (6 Mar. 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0716023490

ISBN-13: 978-0716023494

Price £8.99 or £5,99 (Kindle)

I have read a number of books by John Lewis-Stempel and enjoyed them.  Several reviews can be found here. (That’s the book review page I started but didn’t continue. Two of his books are there.)

This is a comprehensive book and covers everything that you could possibly want in a clear and concise manner – garden design, ponds, lists of plants and notes on wildlife. If someone gave it to me I’d be happy to have it. If all you had to work from was this book you could produce an excellent wildlife garden, though a few more diagrams of feeders and shelters might be a help.

My problem is that I don’t feel the price represents value for money. £8.99 is a lot of money for a small book. After all, the information is available on the net and there are diagrams to go with it. You can also generally pick up illustrated books on the subject from charity shops for under £2.

I might be showing my age here, or my ignorance of the book trade, but £8.99 for a thin paperback, or £5.99 for an electronic version, just doesn’t seem like value for money. I know the worth of a book isn’t measured in its size, but I also know that the buying public (which includes me) is thought to buy on that basis. That’s why you sometimes find yourself reading a book with plenty of white space and a larger than usual font – they are trying to bulk it up.

Though my first impression was of thin book, my second was of a thin book that seems to have a Monarch butterfly on the cover – a rare migrant to the UK. I’d have preferred a proper British butterfly. I’m not impressed by that.

So what do you say? I like the author and the book is packed with information. I just think it’s over-priced compared to other sources of the same information.

Buy it by all means, but buy it as cheaply as possible.