A Book is not just for Holidays…. But for Life


Many years ago when we lived in the West Country, Brian Carter was a familiar name. Often broadcasting about wildlife and the countryside…he was also a writer of some note and an accomplished artist.  Unlike todays household names in Conservation broadcasting, Brian Carter didn’t have the benefits of modern technology…but what he did have was a love of everything in the countryside and a knowledge base built from childhood  through patience and watching what was happening all about him and mans interaction with the wild. Add to that a ‘natural’ charm and ability to convey this love of the outdoors achieving much for the benefit of his beloved Dartmoor and all that lived upon it and around it.

” A Black Fox Running”

A Black Fox Running is one of Brian Carters early books.  First published in 1981 it has just been republished by Bloomsbury with the addition of a new Foreword by Melissa Harrison*. In praise this is a book about life on Dartmoor, the country people, the wildlife and a changing society and world after WW11 over the year leading up to the horrendous winter of 1947 a winter that has still not been matched for its severity.  But for the most part it tells the story based upon years of observation through the eyes of one particular Fox.

Now this is where you need a leap in faith.  This is most definitely not a children’s book…yet the story is predominantly told by the animals and thru there interactions and mutual dependence upon each other…yes the animals speak to each other and have names. Yet seamlessly the story is also told by the humans in the story whose lives are bound up in country life..from land owner, farmers, to trapper.

It is a moving story, of damaged humanity and survival, and sometime death, for all. Yet by simple description through flowing words it  conveys so much of the outdoors and its wildlife, much of which we either take for granted or detail we perhaps allow to go un-noticed.  The seamless narrative from animals to people is an education of country life from past years with a very real relevance to today.

This is the best £14.99 I have invested in a book for a long time and much, much more than just a great holiday read….its unforgettable, engrossing, educational, stimulating, at times hard and gripping but always a flowing read.

  • The Foreword will also convey much more about Brain Carter than I can here

21st July

(C) David Oakes


Silent Sunday….The Weeping Window


Hardly seems a year since Derby hosted, for a few short weeks, this magnificent tribute to those who sacrificed so much in WW1 and the conflicts that have followed….. But a year it is, and still talked about by many as a very fitting tribute in a unique location.


The Silk Mill, Derby.


A Silent Reminder for Silent Sunday

17th June

(C) David Oakes 2018

I Keep Getting Told its Time to Spring Clean My Study…..


After visiting this House I somehow don’t think I need bother for awhile!

Followers will know that Calke Abbey, one of England’s very old Family Estates features regularly on this blog. It is usually the Parklands, woods, the extended estate and stable blocks that I have shared with you…often promising to take you inside this very unique House.


Once the home for many centuries of the Harpur Crewe Family the house and estate passed to the National Trust to help settle Death Duties when the last owner of the House died.  The Trust describe it both as a very Un-Stately Home and as a Time Capsule.

The House and its contents is a real treasure trove containing just about everything the family collected in travels and local exploration over the centuries. In truth I suspect that the National Trust were so overwhelmed with what they inherited that the decision to leave everything as it was left, was the wise decision.


It was once a very grand family house and much of that Grandeur is still very visible.  But so are all the unique quirks of this, some would say, eccentric family. So join us on a mini tour of some of the many rooms, enjoy the peeling wallpaper, cracked ceilings, falling plaster work, the haphazard collections, the once quiet spaces, the Servants Quarters, Kitchens and Brew House….and if you are ever in Derbyshire,  place Calke Abbey high on your to-do-list…


Reflecting on all that has been collected that famous motto “Waste Not Want Not” displayed here in the kitchen is so appropriate…


Calke Abbey…..A place where time really does stand still…


8th April

(C) David Oakes 2018

Good Morrow….This Sunday Moring


I had forgotten I had this little book in my collection of old greeting cards. It is quite a little wonder.  I say little as it measures a minute 4″ x 4.5″ and has only 8 hand stitched pages.

As it was published around 1890 it is not surprising that it is showing its age.  Printed at their Fine Art works in Saxony by Raphael Tuck & Sons of London, it was sold both as a book but as a small birthday/friendship gift. The contents are simple verse with a matching illustration.




Another spread is perhaps appropriate for Spring as we approach the season of Blossom


I hope you can read the verse….the ink has started to fade and paper discolour. I have tried to enhance the images to make your view better and hope it works

25th March

(C) David Oakes 2018

DP Weekly Photo Challenge – A Face in the Crowd


There I was framing up a shot of old Stavanger when I caught a glimpse in the corner of my eye of this couple.  They had seemingly just got married and were leading the guest to the Reception venue.  No time to think…just turn and shoot.

The couple were unaware of everyone, happy in their new world.  They certainly turned a few heads amongst all the tourists.

But it is that little girl on the right that has intrigued me… a face in the crowd. I wonder just what her thoughts were ?

My suggestion for this weeks DP Photo Challenge. You can see what others have suggested on this link:- https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/a-face-in-the-crowd/

via Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd

22nd February

(C) David Oakes 2018