Win tickets to Wilderness Festival!!


We have two FREE tickets (worth £260) to giveaway to the whole of Wilderness Festival, the UK’s greatest ‘outdoors’ festival located at the beautiful Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire between 10th and 12th August. As a setting for celebration it remains peerless, combing the pastoral grandeur of huge rolling lawns with wide lakes, deep woods and winding rivers.

With music from the likes of Wilco, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Crystal Castles, Spiritualized, Stornoway mingling with food tents featuring the world’s greatest chefs and restaurants (Yotam Ottolenghi, Moro, Fergus Henderson & St. John, Valentine Warner), all senses are sure to be sated.

But the real stars here are the arts and nature experiences intertwined within this unique landscape. The range of things happening is unbelievable: banquets under canopies, wild swims, tented talks, wild food forages, campfires, lectures from ‘School of Life’, midnight masked balls, barefoot dancing, pop-up cinemas, parkland processions and ritualistic revelry. Oh and probably the greatest thing – ‘Skimming Stones’ a talk delivered by your very own Rob and Leo!

Yes, we will be there with bells on, both speaking and doing some workshops in the woods. If there are enough skimmers, we may even hold a stone skimming competition. Wilderness will always be defined by its passions: award-winning curators, pioneering arts and breathtaking landscapes. For three days and three nights come and find yourself in the Wilderness.

The lovely people at Wilderness have given us two tickets to give away so you can be there too. The tickets are for two people from Friday 10th (access from 9:00am) until Sunday 12th and include camping. Campsites have stewarded fire pits, hot showers, loos and lots of space.

TO WIN THE TICKETS: All you need to do is ‘Like’ Rob and Leo’s Facebook page AND write ‘I love wilderness’ on our wall to enter a prize draw. You must do both however in order to be in with a chance of winning. One name will be picked from a hat at random at 1800hrs, Friday 13th July and will win the tickets. Good luck and see you there!

Latest reviews of Skimming Stones

Of course you have. I mean, who hasn’t bought Skimming Stones and Other Ways of Being in the Wild? Precisely. It’s as vital as five fruit and vegetables a day. But, should you need any further encouragement or reason to prompt your friends and family to get on Amazon, here are the latest reviews. We’re pretty happy with them!

‘Essential reading’ - The Express
‘A brilliant book’ - Huffington Post
‘Two of the UK’s most exciting nature writers…a thoughtful adventure in learning simple skills that help connect people to nature.’ – The Guardian
‘Deeply engaging…appealing and original framed by personal experiences that offers a fresh perspective to nature writing.’ – The Good Book Guide
‘I was simply carried along by the authors’ sense of awe, and their quiet belief that our lives can be enriched through a deeper connection with nature.’ (Four stars) – BBC Wildlife
‘A great book…it somehow manages to say something about nature that the rest of us can’t.’ – Country Walking Magazine
‘Permeated with all the infectiousness of two boys going outdoors for the day on an adventure.’ – Countryfile Magazine
‘Indispensable. You’ll never want to go back indoors.’ – Welsh Coast Magazine

– Rob –

Drawing of a robin

Festival frenzy and new friends

So with the obligatory interchanging warm/wet weather, the festival season enters full swing. Leo and I are never ones to miss a good party (or a wine-fuelled discussion around a campfire for that matter) and with Skimming Stones providing much food for thought among its growing readership, we have been asked to appear at various festivals over the coming months. This has even necessitated a new tab on our right hand menu to keep people up to date. Yes, we’re techno wizards. Anyway, please check out our forthcoming dates!

Rob and Helen Lederer decompress after speaking at Hay

The first festival has actually passed already; it was at the wonderful if very wet Hay-On-Wye in June. Those Hay aficionados among you will be familiar with the fact that the festival site is a fair schlep from the nearest station. I wouldn’t have made it there at all if the brilliant Helen Lederer, comedienne and BBC Radio 4 mainstay, hadn’t instructed me forcibly to join her in a taxi. The next forty minutes was spent editing and drafting her speech and trading chat with the driver, who was both deaf and chatty – a winning combination. Thankfully Helen made me laugh to the point of injury, which had the bonus of completely dissolving my nerves.

I joined a panel discussion at what has to be the coolest philosophy and arts fringe event in the world ‘How The Light Gets In’. The topic was literary ecologies and it featured some great speakers that I nervously joined on a three-piece suite on the stage – Joanna Kavenna, who wrote the brilliant The Ice Museum, novelist and poet Lavinia Greenlaw and the renowned Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate. The discussion ebbed and flowed between the histories of nature writing and the current new wave of environmental literature, revealing lots of interesting insights, ideas and opinions. The festival website will be uploading a video of the full talk to their website in due course, but I hope being able to bring something of the practical application of much of what we were discussing was useful. It certainly provoked great interest from the audience afterwards and a people asking me to sign the book over beers in the bar. Most also asked for a couple of tips on how to build a waterproof den and light the perfect fire first time. It must have been the weather.

Meeting other authors and sharing debate over lots of wine invariably raises the question about what your book is about. It was lovely to have prestigious writers ear wigging for the techniques to the simple skills. Nostalgia and grand plans for nature breaks abounded. Writing can be a sedentary and interior-focused existence and a gentle reminder about the importance of standing in the midst of sheer life, of slowing down and drawing closer to the otherworldliness of nature certainly stimulated imaginations.

We will deliver reports as to our festival antics as they happen. Next up Larmer Tree near Salisbury on the 13th July. Come and see us if you are about.

– Rob –

Drawing of a robin

Leo’s feature in Western Mail

Leo wrote a lovely feature recently for Wales’ fantastic Western Mail all about fishing on the Teifi using homemade rods that we fashioned from hazel saplings. (Chapter 10 in the book as you ask…). If you didn’t get a chance to read it, check it out and let your mind relax with the drifting, delightful prose.

Unlike the violent attention-grabbing of traffic lights and car horns, the varied attractions of the riverside float up gently for our inspection. It is a feast for the senses. At times, only the sound of the river seems present, at others only the warmth of the sun and the chill of the water around your ankles, or the endlessly recreated sparkling eddies.

Watching a river can become a kind of meditation on the passage of time and thought. Nothing is ever exactly the same from moment to moment, but still the same patterns recur endlessly.

Fishing had given us a reason to get to know a stretch of river, and heightened our experience of it. Catching a fish was icing on the cake.

Read the full feature here.

– Rob –

Drawing of a robin