Sunday book review – Skylarks with Rosie by Stephen Moss

This is a book about lockdown and the fact that it has appeared well within a year of the start of UK lockdown last spring is quite an achievement by the author and the publisher – so, well done both!

This is essentially a diary of how Stephen Moss, author, broadcaster and naturalist (particularly birder) spent lockdown and what he saw and thought as he walked around his local patch on the Somerset Levels.

I know Stephen’s locale quite well. He lives in the village of Mark which is familiar to me not through nominative determination but because I have had friends and relatives who have lived in the same village on the Levels. It’s not a bad place in which to have to remain under lockdown and many a city-dweller, whether a birder or not, would have swopped with Stephen like a shot last March, April or May. It’s clear that Stephen appreciated how relatively lucky he was.

This is not just a catalogue of ‘I saw this and then I saw that’, although the uncoiling of a marvellous spring is a feature of the book (of course it is – what a spring it was!) but we learn more of Stephen’s friends and relatives, how he kept in contact with friends across the world, what he thought of the government, Prime Minister and Dominic Cummins, and what things cropped up to punctuate the period from March to June.

This is an uncomplicated book, but a well-written and enjoyable book. 2020 was a stand-out year for weather and for how we all spent our time. I intend to read each chapter this year at the time it describes from last year and I look forward to making the comparisons.

The title is clever – Rosie is Stephen’s dog. And the book has a properly lovely cover by Carry Akroyd. This is a nicely produced book.

I started by congratulating the author and publisher on getting this book out quickly but, rather surprisingly, this isn’t the only or the first book about nature in lockdown. Back in October The Consolation of Nature: spring in the time of coronavirus by Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott and Peter Marren was published – quite phenomenally quick out of the blocks. I wouldn’t put anyone off reading either of these books and I’m very pleased to have them both.

Skylarks with Rosie: a Somerset spring by Stephen Moss is published (on 18 March) by Saraband