Unlocking Landscapes podcast: the Weald of Kent with author Zoe Gilbert 🎤

Unlocking Landscapes is back! In May 2022 I met with author Zoe Gilbert in Ham Street Woods National Nature Reserve on the Kent/Sussex border. Zoe is an award winning writer and she sounds very much at home in the woods. It was a real pleasure to spend the day with her and I’m very grateful for her time.

Listen here:

In March 2022 Zoe published her latest book, Mischief Acts (you can buy it here). The book is inspired by an historic wooded landscape in south London known as the Great North Wood. It’s been covered in a couple of other podcasts for Unlocking Landscape so please see the links below. I love the book and as a consumer of books and someone who knows parts of the landscape she has focused on, I can say for sure that I think she has nailed it!

In this episode we cover a lot of ground:

  • What inspires Zoe to visit woods and write fiction
  • Public access to woodlands in the pandemic
  • The complications around public perceptions of woodlands
  • Mischief in the woods and National Parks
  • ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’: The importance not being observed all the time (social media)
  • Contiguousness of woodland
  • Bison being reintroduced to English woods
  • The future of woodlands
  • Prioritising the conservation of woodlands in a time of extremes
  • The importance of local landscapes

Links to things we mentioned for more info:

Thanks for reading/listening.

Unlocking Landscapes podcast

Unlocking Landscapes podcast: looking for cuckoos in the Sussex Weald

Hi everyone! After a bit of a break from podcasting, it’s great to release a new episode of Unlocking Landscapes. This has taken a while to edit but it’s a really relaxing one I think. So much so that I actually fell asleep when listening to one of the drafts a few months ago.

In May 2021 I walked 8 miles into the Sussex Weald to see if I could hear a cuckoo. The weather was fine and there were loads of birds out, many of them in full song. This is an episode best listened to through headphones so you can hear the birdsong, the wind through the trees and the buzzing of bees in the woodland landscape of the High Weald. It’s an immersive episode with a guided walk feel, focusing on listening to the surrounding landscape.

Birds identified here include:

  • Goldcrest
  • Chiffchaff
  • Blackcap
  • Willow warbler
  • Garden warbler
  • Blackbird
  • Crow
  • Buzzard
  • Blue tit
  • Coal tit
  • Great tit

Please support this podcast by ‘buying me a coffee’ on Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/djgwild

Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the episode.

Relevant podcasts: octopus beech tree in the Sussex Weald

Unlocking Landscapes archive

Unlocking Landscapes Podbean page

Autumn 2021 blog update

I thought it would be worth sharing an update on where things are with this blog. Last year was a hugely productive one for my blog due to spending so much time at home because of Covid-19 restrictions. At times I was posting three times a week with stuff I would see as good quality.

Now that things have changed I’ve lost that writing time. Things have gone back to where they were probably in 2019. That said, my blog has continued to grow in reach in 2021, especially it seems when people are interested in fungi in the autumn months. October’s views on here have been possibly the busiest month ever for visitors.

In January of this year I began recordings for my Unlocking Landscapes podcast. It was very easy to do because people had time to spend on Zoom due to the stay-at-home orders. Now that there is less of that, I don’t have the time to do them monthly, which has proven a big challenge. That said, I do have two more episodes to publish, hopefully this year, and some episodes agreed with some really cool people, including an author, shepherdess, eco-therapist and a nature writer.

I do hope to add more quality episodes over the years and it may just end up being seasonal, with the episodes maybe a bit longer. I don’t get any income for the podcast and the people appearing on it are doing so out of generosity and a desire to share ideas. Thank you to everyone who has been involved, I’ve loved it so far. The upcoming episodes are part two of the Hungary-Romania trip with Eddie Chapman, and a spring birdsong walk in the Sussex Weald that I recorded in May.

In book news, I have been providing content for other people’s books! Chris Schuler’s The Wood That Built London has just been published with some of my photos in the glossy inner-pages (see image above). It’s an absolute joy to be tied to this incredible book, which has levels of detail about south London’s ancient woodlands which have never before been amalgamated and shared. You can see more here. I’ve also (probably) had some photos published in Tiffany Francis-Baker’s book about Dark Night Skies.

In spring London Wildlife Trust will be publishing a book about nature in London which includes a chapter I wrote about woodlands, with more photographs included. This is another big personal thing for me and I am so honoured to have been asked to support the project. I will post more about it when the book arrives.

In my own personal self-publishing world I have plans to release a third poetry booklet in early 2022 called Fool’s Wood. I have also been trying to write a book for the past 10 years about my experiences of volunteering and what I learned about nature and our relationships to it. That is proving very difficult to get anywhere with, but I hope to make some progress over the winter months. I am not producing any of these with an aim of being published in the mainstream, more for my personal sanity, and as ebooks. If anyone has advice about producing and publishing ebooks, please help me!

The Town Clerk’s Office, Midhurst (c1500s)

As photography projects go I’ve been gathering images of timber-framed cottages and other buildings for an Instagram account @SussexTimbers. I’m still looking for the best format to share these images and to talk about their historical significance, which Instagram is not quite. I will probably build a section on this website next year to showcase them. Might even make some postcards!

What I’ve been reading: this year has been dominated by Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad and Life and Fate. I have studied Russian cinema and am something of a Russophile, but there is only so much you can take of 20th century Russian history. Tread carefully. I’ve recently finished Wanderland by Jini Reddy, I Belong Here by Anita Sethi, some of the novels by Sarah Moss (Ghost Wall and Cold Earth), and at the moment I’m enjoying Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard. Reddy and Sethi’s books are a must read for people who are advocates (or not) of countryside access. Especially those who adamantly and aggressively announce that ‘the countryside is for everyone’ as a reposte to the lived-experience of Black people and people of colour. It’s not, and racism prohibits people from feeling welcome in certain places. Finding the Mother Tree is essential reading for those who want to understand more about how trees are interconnected and the role fungi play in healthy, happy woodlands. I still haven’t read the Merlin Sheldrake book.

What I’m listening to: the new album by The War on Drugs is one I have been waiting a long time for. Change is my favourite song so far (that piano…):

The podcasts I regularly listen to are Welcome to Mushroom Hour and the Guardian Football Weekly.

I want to give a shout out to my dad who regularly reads this blog and has, alongside my mum, been a massive support to me for many years (obviously). Dad has been under the weather recently and unable to get out as much as he would like to, so hopefully dad what you can continue to see here is a bit of a sense of the outdoors. We’ll get you back out there again soon.

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, sending in comments on here as well as on Twitter. I love to receive your comments, which are almost 100% positive, though I don’t block criticism (as long as it’s not inappropriate).

Wishing you a pleasant winter ahead with friends, family, wildlife and pets.

Daniel

Unlocking Landscapes podcast: the Great Hungarian Plain

HUNGARY AND ROMANIA BY TRAIN: PART ONE

In this episode I’m joined by my good friend Eddie Chapman as we recount a visit to the Great Hungarian Plain. 

Eddie is a devoted rambler and part-time rapper who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He grew up in the Derbyshire town of Chesterfield and developed a love for the landscape through hiking in the nearby Peak District. Eddie now spends his walking time bagging munros in the Scottish Highlands.

Listen to the audio file here:

Watch the audio slideshow on YouTube here:

This is part one of two episodes covering a trip Eddie and I undertook across Hungary and Romania in 2015. In part one we recount our travels through the Great Hungarian Plain, en route to the Romanian Carpathians. 

It’s a light-hearted episode with recollections of unusual experiences, including owl-headed body-builders, fire water and rural sports bars. 

We saw some incredible wildlife in one of Europe’s most important landscapes – the Great Hungarian Plain – and would definitely recommend it if you’re into birds. But do listen to what we did wrong if you’re planning a visit!


Links:

Eddie’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spagheddielegs/

Blog post about this trip (2015): https://danieljamesgreenwood.com/2015/07/13/photography-the-great-hungarian-plain/

Hortobagy National Park: http://national-park.hungaryguide.info/hortobagy-puszta.html

Unlocking Landscapes Twitter: https://twitter.com/UnlockLand

Advice on European train travel: https://www.seat61.com/

Unlocking Landscapes podcast #5: Irreplaceable with Julian Hoffman

Here’s episode two with Julian Hoffman!


This is the second of two episodes with author Julian Hoffman. The first episode was about living with pelicans and bears in northern Greece, where Julian lives. 

Julian has published two books of non-fiction with a strong focus on landscapes, wildlife and heritage. In 2012 Julian’s debut book The Small Heart of Things was published, and in 2019 it was followed by Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places

We pick up right where we left off in episode one, with a question to Julian about his experiences of getting to know local people and telling their stories through his writing.

Swanscombe Marshes in Kent, a threatened ‘brownfield’ home to rare species

We get into some pretty deep topics in this episode including:

  • How the mathematics of life mean you can only connect with a handful of places in a meaningful way
  • The poverty of language around ‘brownfields’
  • Convincing politicians to pretend they’re jumping spiders!
  • Life-altering experiences in the North Kent Marshes
  • Oliver Rackham and the loss of meaning in the landscape
  • The importance of local green spaces in the pandemic and beyond

Massive thank you to Julian for his time and consideration in putting these two episodes together. Please support Julian by purchasing his book and following him on social media. Hope you enjoy!

Links

Julian Hoffman: https://julian-hoffman.com/

Irreplaceable: https://julian-hoffman.com/irreplaceable/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulianHoffman

Save Swanscombe Marshes: https://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns/save-swanscombe-marshes/

Unlocking Landscapes Twitter: https://twitter.com/UnlockLand

Homepage: https://www.unlockinglandscapes.com/ 

Daniel’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/djgwild

Intro music by Daniel Greenwood: https://danieljamesgreenwood.bandcamp.com/track/eva

Unlocking Landscapes #4: Living with pelicans and bears in northern Greece with Julian Hoffman

This is part one of two episodes with author Julian Hoffman. This episode focuses on Julian’s life in northern Greece where he encounters European brown bears in his day to day life. We also discuss the local accents of wrens(!), particularly Liverpudlian wrens.

Julian has published two books. In 2012 The Small Heart of Things was published and in 2019 it was followed by Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places

I’m a big fan of both of these books. Julian does that rare thing for a nature writer and centres communities within the landscape. Irreplaceable is a great example of this, with Julian writing about local people the world over battling to save special places, habitats and species. 

Irreplaceable was the Highly Commended Finalist for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation.

Julian details how he came to live in Prespa, how he became a writer there after working with his wife as a market gardener, toiling away in the open fields growing fruit and vegetables, and getting to know the locals.

Thanks so much for bearing with us and I hope you enjoy the episode.

Links

Julian Hoffman: https://julian-hoffman.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulianHoffman

The Wren Boys: https://www.ouririshheritage.org/content/archive/topics/miscellaneous/the-wren-boys

Unlocking Landscapes Twitter: https://twitter.com/UnlockLand

Homepage: https://www.unlockinglandscapes.com/ 

Unlocking Landscapes #3: the octopus beech tree

A couple of weeks ago I decided to try an outdoor recording for Unlocking Landscapes. This walk was 8 miles in total from my front door to visit a nearby area of woodland in the Sussex Weald:

Listen to the podcast above or on my Podbean page here.

Please subscribe to the Unlocking Landscapes YouTube here.

You can tell from the podcast that this latest English lockdown has affected my lung capacity, I’m a bit breathy at times! There’s only so much editing you can do though. One to remember for future episodes.

Anyway, the areas of interest in this episode are:

  • Woodland streams, known in this area as ‘gills’
  • Heathlands and plantations
  • Wood ants
  • Sphagnum moss bogs
  • Ancient and veteran trees, especially beech (Fagus sylvatica)

I’d love to know what you think of this episode and if you’d like to hear more in future. You can comment below or email me at unlockinglandscapes@gmail.com

Thanks so much for listening and I hope you enjoy.

In April I have a podcast with the writer Julian Hoffman. It went so well it’s in two fascinating parts. You can see more about Julian here.

I have some other great guests and episodes lined up, can’t wait to share all that.

Cheers,
Daniel

Episode recorded and edited by Daniel Greenwood in the West Sussex High Weald

High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: http://www.highweald.org/

Unlocking Landscapes website

Unlocking Landscapes Twitter

Unlocking Landscapes #2: Raki Nikahetiya

I’m pleased to publish episode 2 of the Unlocking Landscapes podcast. My guest this month is Raki Nikahetiya.

Raki lives in New Delhi and practices ‘interdisciplinary photography’. His photographic work focuses on documentary, landscape, wildlife and other digital art forms. He is currently working on a project with the University of Barcelona on the subject of… cave paintings and petri dishes!

Raki talks about life in India where agrarian protests are raging and people are coming to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic. He also describes his upbringing in rural Sri Lanka and how that has inspired his work as a photographer and a community conservationist working with indigenous communities in Sri Lanka and Mozambique.

In the YouTube version of the podcast you can enjoy some of Raki’s photographs alongside the audio:

You can follow Raki’s work through the links below:

Website: https://www.rakiography.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rakiography/

Raki is a wonderful guy and I really enjoyed speaking to him. Thanks to everyone who has listened, subscribed and provided feedback on the podcast so far. It’s a real pleasure to record the episodes but the preparation and post-production is a lot to fit in alongside a full-time job! Hoping that things will settle a bit now as things get up and running.

Next month I am joined by writer Julian Hoffman.

Thanks for listening and wishing you well.

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Unlocking Landscapes: London’s historic Great North Wood with Chris Schüler

I’m delighted to be able to post the first episode of my podcast, Unlocking Landscapes.

This episode is with author Chris Schüler about his upcoming book The Wood that Built London. It’s about London’s historic Great North Wood, which I have posted about many times on this blog.

It’s a long episode, but that’s because it’s local interest, with a lot of detail to fit in. I hope it’s useful to people with an interest in London’s history, city woodlands, and nature in general.

You can subscribe to the podcast via the links below:

In this episode we talk about the following things:

  • What inspired Chris to write the book and how he went about it
  • How the Great North Wood (GNW) was managed
  • How the GNW differs from other southern English wooded landscapes such as the Sussex Weald
  • The violent history of the GNW
  • How the plague impacted people living in the GNW
  • The GNW’s celebrities
  • Some of the now rare species recorded in the GNW centuries ago
  • The concerns about invasive species are not as new as we think
  • The attempts to eradicate hedgehogs and polecats
  • How the GNW will be viewed in 100 years

Links to references:

Thanks for reading/listening

Tag: Unlocking Landscapes

Unlocking Landscapes: making a podcast in 2021

I’m really pleased to say that I’m in the process of launching a podcast. It’s called Unlocking Landscapes and will, unsurprisingly, be about people and landscapes. Below you can listen to the podcast intro:

The first episode focuses on London’s historic Great North Wood and Chris Schuler‘s upcoming book The Wood that Built London, which will be released in October 2021.

I grew up in the historic territory of the Great North Wood in south-east London, so this subject is of big personal interest for me.

It’s pretty daunting starting a podcast and also fairly cringe-worthy listening to your own voice. I’m hopeful of posting the first episode on Monday 8th February. It’s an hour long and I’m still working through the edit. The first one will be the most difficult because of all the work submitting it to podcast channels and getting used to editing audio again.

The podcast is now being accepted to podcast providers so it should be on Google, Apple and Spotify in the next couple of days. Please subscribe!

At the moment this is a labour of love and is totally funded by yours truly.

The episode will be of particular interest to those who live in south London and are keen to understand more about London’s rural and cultural history. It will also be of interest to those who want to learn more about the how human history has impacted woodlands over time.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully listening soon!