I couldn't quite get my head round BBC's Autumnwatch. What started out being a very worthy attempt to let us see dormice putting their pyjamas on before going to sleep live on camera, has somehow degenerated into lively presenters sitting on a sofa joshing and ruffling each others' hair. The one bloke who appears to do any work just sits smiling in the dark outside some Highland croft and then shows us film he shot yesterday in broad daylight. But at least we now don't have to put up with that little chap from The Goodies grumpily anthromorphising everything in sight. So I wearily switched off and reached for What To Look For In Autumn, a Ladybird Book written by E.L.Grant Watson and illustrated superbly by Charles Tunnicliffe. I then took to wandering about the lanes in my patch of country, marvelling at just how much is still as he pictured it in 1960. A shepherd in a sheep fold (well, a bloke in a four-wheel-drive), a pale moon lighting the church tower, traveller's joy smoking the hedgerows, a bonfire lit at a field edge and pheasants strutting their stuff over rotting fungi-covered logs on the margins of the woods. And not a ratings-safe presenter with a stack of prompt cards to be seen anywhere.
Dan Pearson: Garden stories
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