All posts by Matthew Oates

Beyond Spring (published Oct. 2017)

This is a book like no other, and I had a fantastic time writing it.

It’s available from Amazon Books and Fair Acre Press (publisher), paperback only, £10.99 full price.

It consists of a series of short chapters, some only 500 words long, of adventures and musings from the genesis of an English spring up to the pinnacle of midsummer’s glory, and during the descent towards autumn. It’s around 60,000 words long in all.

The book was born back in the long hot summer of 1976, when I wandered in golden light in what grown ups might deem a naive poetic dream but was actually the most wonderful reality anyone has ever encountered. I’ve spent much of my life  trying to get back there…

Forty years on, still seeking a way back into that realm of wonder, chapters were drafted in a pocket notebook whilst out and about in the English countryside. I didn’t visit anywhere specifically to write a piece, I just happened to be going there anyway. Above all, the chapters were drafted by the places and the natural situations I was in: I was a conduit, places use us.

Some pieces were written on roads, some on trains; one in Hyde Park and one at a motorway service station. Wiltshire and West Sussex figure prominently, simply because I spent a lot of time in those counties during 2016. I’m sorry Yorkshire and Cornwall missed out.

Then, during the winter of 2016-17 I typed the drafts up. It was the easiest book anyone has ever written, and writing it helped me through that winter.

It’s not perfect, nothing is, even spring. But I am genuinely pleased with it, and it seems to be well appreciated.

Read it during the darkling months of January and February, it was written to help us through those times.

Read it in places of darkness, like the London Underground, it was written to help us survive such places.

Read it surreptitiously during pointless meetings, it will help you survive.

Let’s get our relationship with Nature right…

I am dreaming up a sequel but am mainly writing His Imperial Majesty, a natural history of the Purple Emperor butterfly (for Bloomsbury).