Fergus Collins, editor of the esteemed Countryfile Magazine has written the following review on Beyond Spring: Wanderings through Nature, by the wonderful Matthew Oates:
Beyond Spring: Wanderings through Nature – Matthew Oates (Fair Acre Press, £10.99)
Despite all the bad news about our natural world, naturalist Matthew Oates writes with welcome optimism, recalling a number of wildlife adventures and perfect days in the British countryside. Each one is revealing, uplifting and wise – “such days,” he says “do not merely linger on in our minds: they live on and actually develop within our souls, reaching a depth of meaning almost beyond comprehension”. Each story is accompanied by a stanza or two of verse from Edward Thomas and other fellow lovers of the wild. He particularly delights in Edward Thomas’s ‘South Country’ – the great sweep of chalklands from Dover to Dorset – and is distracted by both the grand wild spectacles and the mundane melodramas of deer flies. “There’s no excuse for being bitten by a …stupid, large and obvious… deer fly, other than outdoor fornication and the ensuing slumber”.
But nothing can compare to his rhapsodic pages devoted to the purple emperor butterfly. He recalls numerous encounters with these large, handsome but mercurial insects, giving them a power, character and curmudgeonliness that I never thought possible in such an ephemeral creature. Flimsy they are not. There is song and poetry in Oates’ sentences and an impish, fruity delight in nature’s riot. He is a Tom Bombadil for our times with this most valuable of advice: “Always keep a nature diary: it will be a comfort to you in time to come.”
Reviewer: Fergus Collins