Tweet of the Day : A Year of Britain’s Birds from the Acclaimed Radio 4 Series

Imagine a jazz musician, improvising on a theme. Then imagine that he is able to play half a dozen instruments – not one after another, but almost simultaneously, switching effortlessly between instruments and musical styles with hardly a pause for breath. If you can countenance that, you are halfway towards appreciating the extraordinary song of the nightingale …Wherever we are, there are birds.

And wherever there are birds, there is birdsong. It’s always a pleasure (and a relief) to hear sounds which prove the world’s still spinning: whether it’s the sighing of migrating redwings on a damp October night, the twitter of swallows fresh in from South Africa in April or the call of the cuckoo in May. Based on the scripts of BBC Radio 4’s beloved year-long series, and distilling two lifetimes’ knowledge, insight and enthusiasm into these pages, Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss take you month by month through the year, and the changing lives of our favourite birds.

From peregrines swapping sea-cliffs for skyscrapers to swifts spending almost their entire lives on the wing; from charms of goldfinches to murmurations of starlings; from ptarmigans thriving in the Highland snow to the bright green parakeets thronging London’s parks; this book is packed full of extraordinary insights and memorable facts. Tweet of the Day is a book for everyone who loves Britain’s birds. (Illustrations (c) Carry Akroyd)

A History of British Paddle Steamers

There is a huge following among enthusiasts and the general public for the old paddle steamers that were once a familiar sight in British waters, both inland and around the coast. To cater for this interest the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society has collected a huge amount of material relating to the paddle steamers – posters, photographs, postcards, publicity material, film and recorded material etc. The world famous Waverley is the last active ocean going paddle steamer in existence and draws huge crowds around the country, providing a glimpse of a bygone age of travel.

The Kingswear Castle still sails around the Thames Estuary on pleasure cruises, and the world’s smallest paddle steamer Monarch still delights passengers around the Isle of Wight. This large and handsome hardbook book explores the history of paddle steamers around Britain with a mixture of evocative photographs from the past, nostalgic period publicity material and other memorabilia, facts and figures about the paddle steamers and accounts of the experiences of those who travelled on them.

How to Drive a Car : A Fascinating Insight into Driving in the 1920s and 30s

With the introduction of the driving test and the Highway Code in the 1930s, both seen as essential in combating road deaths at the time, this book was published for the budding driver so they could learn all the nuances of driving and maintaining their car. The 1930s were a time of no motorways, cars that needed almost weekly maintenance, the menace of horses and the dangers of poor lighting and drink driving, and this book sold in its tens of thousands to learner drivers as Britons took to the roads in their millions.

Discovering England’s Smallest Churches : A Countrywide Guide to a Hundred Churches and Chapels

A small rural church seats fewer than fifty, with a nave no more than thirty feet long. All the churches and chapels included in the book are still in use and can be visited by the growing number of enthusiasts who seek them out to enjoy their beauty and historical associations. A church such as St Enodoc in Cornwall, where Sir John Betjeman is buried, or St John, Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, are prime examples of the type of church to be chosen.

The book will be illustrated with photographs, line drawings and engravings. The text will be informative but not dry and include anecdotes and notes on the locality.

Finding the Plot! : 1000 Graves To Visit Before You Die

The Tibetans have the Book of the Dead. This is Ann Treneman’s Book of the ‘Dead Interesting’. The Times writer, best known for her hilarious parliamentary sketches, has branched out – to graveyards.

In this riveting book – part travelogue, part biography, part social history – she takes you to some of the most interesting graves in Britain. You’ll meet the real War Horse, the best ‘funambulist’ ever, Byron and his dog Boatswain, prime ministers, queens and kings, Florence Nightingale and her pet baby owl Athena, highwaymen, scientists, mistresses, the real James Bond and, of course, M. Then there are writers, painters, poets, rakes and rogues, victims, the meek and mild and the just plain mad.

This unique book is made up of 100 entries, each telling the story of one or more graves. Some of the graves are chosen for who is in them, others for the grave itself. Some of the entries are humorous, some are poignant, but all tell us something about the British way of death.

At times absurd, at times astounding, in Finding the Plot Ann Treneman proves an entertaining guide to the Anglo-Saxon underworld!

 

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