Diana Athill

All Things Bright & Beautiful

Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet


Jonathan Cape 238pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

The naturalist Mark Cocker lives in a Norfolk village called Claxton, where most of what he chronicles in this book took place. I spent my first twenty-five years in a nearby village, and loved my place as intensely as he loves his. What’s more, I believed that I knew it intimately. I am now ashamed of myself. The ‘Claxton Parish Species List’ appended to Cocker’s text explains why. It runs to 1,108 items. This awe-inspiring list is presented under a number of headings: Fungi, Vascular Plants, Bryophytes, Lichens, Flatworms, Slugs and Snails, Millipedes, Spiders and Relatives, Dragonflies, Bugs and Relatives, Butterflies and Moths, Birds, Mammals, and so on. Never again will I claim to know a place ‘intimately’.

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