Reviews of interesting stuff... mainly books I'm reading, but when I first started The Hazel Tree I also wrote a couple of film reviews. If you're a film buff, please don't read my film reviews. I said don't!

Book review: ‘Island of Dreams’ by Dan Boothby

At the end of August I went to the Edinburgh Book Festival to see a joint talk by two authors – Dan Boothby and Gareth Williams. Dan Boothby was talking about his new book, ‘Island of Dreams’, while Gareth Williams gave a presentation about his release of ‘A Monstrous Commotion’, which focuses on his research […]

Book review: ‘Scotland’s Merlin’ by Tim Clarkson

“And in the battle of Arfderydd my torc was of gold…” From ‘Yr Afallennau’ (‘The Apples’), a poem in the Black Book of Carmarthen I don’t know about you, but when somebody mentions the name ‘Merlin’, an image of a bearded sorcerer pops straight into my mind, quickly followed by King Arthur and several valiant […]

Book review: ‘The Rainforests of Britain and Ireland’ by Clifton Bain

You might remember that, back in the summer of last year, I wrote about the oak woods of Taynish in Knapdale.   These are one of the last remnants of Britain’s temperate rainforests, having flourished in the mild, moisture-laden climate of the west coast for around 7,000 years.  It’s an enchanting, invigorating place:  in spring, as […]

‘Bonnie Scotland’ by A R Hope Moncrieff and Harry Sutton Palmer

“The tartans are dyed by the blood of a hundred battlefields, as by memories of green braes and purple moors.” One of the presents that I was given for my birthday was a lovely old book called ‘Bonnie Scotland’. Published in 1905, it’s written by A R (Ascott Robert) Hope Moncrieff, an Edinburgh-born author who […]

Book review: ‘The First Blast of the Trumpet’ by Marie Macpherson

The first in the ‘Knox Trilogy’, this riveting story of 16th century Scotland will sweep you into the court of James IV and into the candlelit rooms of castles, palaces and convents…

A new treasure: ‘Trees and How They Grow’ by G Clarke Nuttall

At a show last weekend I picked up this gorgeous old book from a second-hand book stall.  Written by Gertrude Clarke Nuttall, it’s called ‘Trees And How They Grow’ and is dated 1913. Inside are 15 colour plates called ‘autochromes’ and 134 black-and-white photographs.  A total of 24 species of trees are described in detail – among them […]

Book review: ‘Strathclyde and the Anglo-Saxons in the Viking Age’ by Tim Clarkson

This fascinating new book by Tim Clarkson, an expert on early medieval Scotland, throws some light on the little-known Kingdom of Strathclyde

Book review: ‘Moonwalker – Adventures of a Midnight Mountaineer’ by Alan Rowan

Climbing Scotland’s highest mountains is a serious challenge for any walker… but would you climb them at night? Alan Rowan has, and his stories are amazing!

Book review: ‘Men of Letters’ by Duncan Barrett

A moving and well-written account of the men who served in the Post Office Rifles during the Great War, by best-selling author Duncan Barrett

Book review: ‘The Old Straight Track’ by Alfred Watkins

One of my very favourite books… for many people, ‘The Old Straight Track’ will need no introduction. This is how the idea of ley lines first dawned on the world, thanks to a humble man from Herefordshire.