Rob and Leo on The Culture Show!

Here is our seven-minute appearance on The Culture Show in all its glory, hope you like it!

We talk about Skimming Stones, and why it is that we need to reconnect with nature.

If you want more, do please grab a copy of the book, or if you’re in London on April 28th you can join us and Gavin Pretor-Pinney (author of The Cloudspotter’s Guide) on an urban wilderness retreat, courtesy of The School of Life.

- Leo -

Urban Wilderness Retreat with Gavin Pretor-Pinney (author of The Cloudspotter’s Guide)

Rob and I are going to be running a class with The School of Life in April, working with the awesome Gavin Pretor-Pinney to help city folk like us learn to tune in and reconnect with nature.

From the School of Life’s website:

Gavin Pretor-PinneySATURDAY 28 APRIL  2012, 10.00-17:30

We believe that clouds are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see within them will save on psychoanalysis bills.

 From the Manifesto of The Cloud Appreciation Society

Urban life can crowd us out. The pressure of work, the hectic streets, the cramped commute. We dream of getting away. But do we really need to leave the city to escape it?

Rob CowenJoin three of the UK’s most exciting nature writers for an adventure in the heart of the city. Gavin Pretor-Pinney will show us how to appreciate the great urban wilderness of the sky and capture it on paper. Rob Cowen and Leo Critchley will teach us how to track animals and forage wild fruit.

Within earshot of sirens and sight of tower blocks, we’ll throw off our city blinkers and become absorbed in the worlds of other creatures. We’ll learn about the science and philosophy of tuning into bird song and sensing the onset of rain. In the process, we’ll discover how we can escape the clamouring city any time we like.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney is a well-loved TV documentary broadcaster and author of the bestselling books, The Cloudspotter’s GuideThe Cloud Collector’s Handbook and The Wavewatcher’s Companion. He is founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society and has just compiled Clouds That Look Like Things, a selection of photographs by the Society’s 28,000 members.

Leo CritchleyRob Cowen and Leo Critchley have just published their first book, Skimming Stones and other ways of being in the wild, a thoughtful adventure in learning simple skills that help us connect deeply with nature. They are both young Londoners who describe their project as being ‘born out of a wish to share the contemplative, reflective pleasures and joys that were well-known to our grandparents, but which are in danger of being lost and forgotten.’

 

- Leo -

The launch!

It’s been a remarkable week.

You can do a lot of preparatory work for something like a book launch – getting press lined up, going on the radio and so on – without having any clear idea if it’s working.

The proof is in the pudding, and I’m very pleased to say that Skimming Stones and other ways of being in the wild hit number 1 on Amazon under ‘Nature’ and ‘Outdoor pursuits’. This was, inevitably, short lived as the big name authors bounced back, but it’s still a lovely feeling to have seen our book above colossal powerhouses Richard Dawkins and Bear Grylls for a day!

The responses to our appearance on the Culture Show have been very gratifying, especially as it’s always difficult watching yourself or listening to your own voice on recordings. Andrew Graham Dixon was superb, and the camerawork, editing and overall structure really impressed me too – thanks to Jon Morrice, Neville Kidd and Douglas Kerr for doing such a good job, braving slippery seaweed, crumbling cliffs and sub-zero temperatures.

Skimming Stones on Amazon at number 1

Skimming Stones on Amazon at number 1

- Leo -

Paws for thought

Our monthly column in the Independent starts again today after a hiatus to allow us to finish writing the book, which came out on Thursday. Click the link below to read the feature and learn a bit about tracking wildlife around you. What animals frequent your street, garden or nearest wood and fields?

I understand it’s easy to track the Hollywood star, Will Smith. You just scan the area and look for Fresh Prince…

 

A busy week and a bit of press

If you picked up yesterday’s Yorkshire Post, you may have noticed the lead feature was entitled ‘Rediscover the wild world around you for some perspective on modern life‘, an insightful and fascinating article that really tapped into the main arguments of our book. The author? One Rob Cowen. Guilty.

For those of you not in the know, the Yorkshire Post is rightly regarded as Yorkshire’s ‘national newspaper’ and the feature, and accompanying images of Leo and I looking fresh-faced and fancy free on the stretch of Jurassic coast running between Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes, will hopefully help to highlight the importance of reconnecting with nature to the lucky residents of the UK’s largest county.

This heralds the start of a busy week ahead of us. Over the next few days we will be undertaking all manner of promotional and press work as the book finally hits the shelves (wooden, metal and virtual) on Thursday. On the same day, I will be taking to the stage to present to the Yorkshire Post Literary Luncheon; a fine tradition of speeches given by incredible authors such as Pam Ayers and Michael Dobbs, it is also a platform for terrified first-timers like myself.

Then Saturday sees the rekindling of our monthly column in The Independent, starting with the ideal activity to help you slow down and reconnect with the fields and forests: animal tracking. We spent a fantastic day last February tracking a fox through a wood in Wales, waiting up as darkness fell to see his return. He was wolf-like in his wildness, a thick-maned manifestation of the dark wood itself; a very different experience to encountering the more  urbanised Reynard, as this image of one queueing for a cash machine (courtesy of @Alsboy) shows!

We are then appearing on BBC2′s The Culture Show, which airs on Saturday evening at 6pm. Viewers will get to see us skimming stones and building dens with presenter, Andrew Graham-Dixon as he attempts to get to the heart of the book and understand why slowing down and undertaking simple activities in nature is so beneficial to us.

Please watch/read/enjoy and let us know what you think!

 - Rob - Drawing of a robin

What do you get out of slowing down and spending time in nature?

Yesterday, I had a very pleasant chat with Sean Moncrieff on NewsTalk Ireland.

Listen here

We talked in particular about the transformative effect that spending quality time in nature can have.

As you become an adult, there’s a lot of other pressures, and these things fall by the wayside… there are parallels with meditation; little rituals that help you become mindful and bring yourself back into the moment…

There’s so much in favour of spending time reflecting on and experiencing nature. We all know this instinctively, we prefer a room with a view or a house with a garden, and yet many of us rarely take advantage of the abundant (and potentially free!) resources out there.

Listen to Leo on NewsTalk Ireland

- Leo -

The benefits of being in nature; are children losing out?

Rob spoke to Hannah Murray at Talk Radio Europe: Spain a couple of days ago.

Listen here

Nowadays, less than a quarter of children visit a local patch of green weekly. What sort of damage could this do in the long run?

The human animal evolved to live in nature, and it has a very powerful effect on us when we spend time in nature – when we slow down and spend time in it.

Are we so worried about the risks of letting children roam, that we are exposing them to the larger risks of becoming disconnected from the world around them, of becoming too used to fast-cut media and 2D screens?

Listen to Rob on Talk Radio Europe

- Leo -