Ronald Blythe lived at the end of an overgrown farm track deep in the rolling countryside of the Stour Valley, on the border between Suffolk and Essex.
His home was Bottengoms Farm, a sturdy yeoman’s house once owned by the artist John Nash.
From here, Blythe spent almost half a century observing the slow turn of the agricultural year, the church year and village life in a series of rich, lyrical rural diaries.
Beginning with the arrival of snow on New Year’s Day and ending with Christmas carols sung in the village church, Next to Nature invites us to witness a simple life richly lived.
It is a celebration of one of our greatest nature writers, and an unforgettable ode to the English countryside.
‘All the charm, wonder, eccentricity and vigour of country life is here in these pages, and told with such engaging directness, detail and colour…Bliss’ – Stephen Fry
‘A capacious work that contains multitudes…a work to amble through, seasonally, relishing the vivid dashes of colour and the precision and delicacy of the descriptions’ – The Spectator
‘My favourite read of the year…warm, funny and moving’ – Sunday Times
‘A writer whose pages you turn and then turn back immediately to re-read, relish and get by heart’ – Susan Hill