Sunny Herons – 31 March 2024

Have you already consumed too much chocolate? Did you perhaps take a ‘one for me, one for the hunters’ approach when hiding sugary eggs in the daffodil trumpets? Are you appalled at the violent clash of what ought to remain mutually exclusive worlds in the form of the Terry’s chocolate orange mini egg bar? In search of book content, have you opened Instagram only to be shown endless videos of people air frying a creme egg inside a croissant?

To what is the world coming? I cry out as my hot chocolate is rendered undrinkable, presented as it is beneath a fortress of marshmallows, wafers, oreos and three colours of flavoured syrup forming the shape of a lop-eared bunny.

I have the antidote. There is joy, there is wonder, there is love in vegetables. Need convincing? Anna Shepherd’s beautiful recipe book, Love Vegetables, is piled up high here in the shop. It’s signed too. It is full of inspiration and brimming with rich colour and taste. The recipes put vegetables at the heart of cooking and are arranged in categories, including the deliciously named section, Sunny Vegetables, offering a warm and hearty glow.

If you are going for a walk following your lunch of lovely vegetables and/or mini egg omelette monstrosity, there are two recent books which may make you see the world a little differently:
Where Are the Fellows Who Cut the Hay? by Robert Ashton is an ode to rural Sussex and an exploration of how we can reconnect with the places from where our everyday materials and food come. The book is a response to George Ewart Evans’ oral history of pre-mechanization farming, Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay, to which Ashton has felt connected since childhood.
Ghosts in the Hedgerow by Tom Moorhouse is a non-fiction crime thriller. A spiky suspense story. A prickly puzzle. A twisting tale that will have you alternately stretching your nose out for clues and curling up in a ball. Our hedgehogs are in danger. Tom Moorhouse is coming to the rescue.

Turning to a very different kind of mystery, I have been reading Tell by Jonathan Buckley. The gardener of a wealthy businessman is telling her boss’s life story to someone who wants to make a film about his life. Curtis Doyle lived in a “palace” in the Highlands, collected art and used to receive many visitors about whom his staff speculated. Now he has gone missing. The gardener’s account is wide-ranging but perhaps she has buried the lead along with that season’s bulbs…

Earlier in the week I read Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel, a novel about a girls’ boxing championship. It takes you inside the heads of eight ferocious competitors as the tournament unfolds. The writing batters you from all sides. In short paragraphs, you learn who the girls are, who they will become, what drives them, what will bring them down. I’ve never read anything like this. It’s exceptional. Put me in the ring and I’ll go five rounds with anyone who disputes this.

Finally, if you are a fan of John Donne, St Augustine, (reading about) the Pendle witch trials and spoonerisms, then After You Were, I Am by Camille Ralphs is the poetry collection you need. Reading it requires peaceful digestion time though – hopefully any younger readers can be kept quiet with the delightful Luna Loves Gardening by Joseph Coelho or the latest in our favourite Bear and Bird series by Jarvis so that you can focus fully on metaphysics.

We are open as usual. We have lots of events coming up. We look forward to seeing you.

Yours, having enjoyed a chocolate bar and a bowl of mushrooms and spinach while writing this,