Current Issue

Issue 124,
Winter 2023

Letter from the editor

As I write, the county, indeed the country, is being battered by storm Babet – lashing rain, howling wind and tumultuous waves pounding the shores. Yet, in some ways, I couldn’t be happier. It’s not logical at all; I realise that this sort of weather disrupts travel, is incredibly hard on wildlife, can make even walking hazardous. In fact, it causes all kinds of problems, but in some ways, the battening down of hatches, the hunkering down – it’s pure magic.

Yes, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s a time to slow down, get into the rhythm of the season, and realise that we’re one small part of that big old world out there. It’s time to cosy up, pause for a while and consider our place in the grand scheme of things: the birdsong, the way nature makes a play to reclaim her wildness, and the reassessing of priorities.

Artist and naturalist Darren Woodhead (whose work features on this issue’s cover) also revels in extreme weather conditions, finding it can offer freshness and energy to his work. For him, his painting practice is as much about seeking solace outside as capturing a particular moment in time.

After summer’s record heat and a relatively mild autumn, I’m actually looking forward to some (properly) cold weather. There’s comfort in the predictable nature of nature, and there is nothing like the dark December days to encourage us to get extra cosy and look forward to the onset of the festive season. The contents of this issue should help.

First, Martyn Baugley tells us how the poinsettia became such an important part of our Christmas festive season, and we show how adding a few festive plants to your home can really elevate the festive mood. Speaking of Christmas – what would it be without chocolate logs and cocktails? Veronica Clarke shares her recipes to help keep those cold-weather blues at bay.

When the cabin fever sets in, how about a few wintertime road trips? Jim Hendrie leads the way with a stroll around Prestonpans, a place steeped in history and linked to industry, trade and war. Then Tracey Millier-Radnall heads to Spott for this issue’s Muddy Boots route.

Enjoy the issue, take time to slow down and enjoy the stillness offered by winter. May your festive season be bright and your winter healthy. See you in spring.

Cover: Pinkfeet and Barnacle Geese arriving to roost, Aberlady Bay by Darren Woodhead