I think we may as well call this month Journal January or something, as Unmitigated England is so uninviting at present. Let's hope February sees more forays out into an increasingly blue yonder. A couple of days ago I ended up with a copy of the above. I'd had a copy once, but was attracted anew to the illustrations by Rowland and Edith Hilder. Rowland (seen last week in the Suffolk Brooke Bond painting) did the backgrounds of English landscape and thundery summer skies, whilst his wife Edith got the trickier job of doing the actual flowers, artfully arranged in the foreground. Feet up in front of the woodburner on Tuesday I started browsing, and on page 18 read about the extremely poisonous Hemlock Water Dropwort. I knew about its relation the Giant Hogweed, having nervously negotiated their towering stalks on numerous occasions, but this was a first.
Ripple dissolve to last night, feet up passim, thoroughly enjoying Midsomer Murders (always on top form when you see that the director is Rennie Rye) and the twin delights of seeing both the lovely gamine Hayley Mills and the village of Hambleden near Henley-on-Thames. But would you believe it? Number Two in the body count was done away with in the kitchen of a posh restaurant by, yes, the roots of Hemlock Water Dropwort, niftily substituted for celery. Ladybird Books and Midsomer Murders, who would've thought they could end up here in a deathly embrace.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)
"Open this book with reverence. It is a hymn to England". Clive Aslet
"Enchanting...delightful". The Bookseller "Cheekily named" We Love This Book
The Cigarette Papers
"Unexpectedly pleasing and engrossing...beautifully illustrated". The Bookseller
"Until the happy advent of Peter Ashley's Cross Country it has, ironically, been foreigners who have been best at celebrating Englishness". Christina Hardyment / The Independent
More from Unmitigated England
"Give this book to someone you know- if not everyone you know." Simon Heffer, Country Life. "When it comes to spotting the small but telling details of Englishness, Peter Ashley has no equal." Michael Prodger, Sunday Telegraph