We’ve tracked down the best gifts for friends – or yourself!
WEEDS IN THE HEART: EXPLORATIONS IN INTUITIVE HERBALISM by Nathaniel Hughes and Fiona Owen
The closest you can come to experiencing the undeniable beauty and richness of this book is by reading Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s glorious The Lost Words. But it would be doing Weeds in the Heart a huge injustice to take the comparisons further.
A book of startling beauty, herbalist Nathaniel and artist Fiona have brought us a tome to be treasured, a book of such exquisite beauty that, with the turn of each page, you feel as if you’re taking a step deeper into nature. Taking a spiritual and intuitive approach, Nathaniel teaches us to trust our instincts and to enter the world of herbalism with an open mind and heart. While, working hand-in-hand with the writer, artist Fiona breathes life into his words with her beautifully realised oil paintings of the natural world, many gilded with 24ct English gold leaf.
The two have produced this book as an “offering of gratitude” to the Stroud Valleys, and no finer tribute can be made to the natural flora –
St John’s Wort, Horsetail, Cleavers, Lady’s Mantle, Chamomile… all are celebrated with fitting reverence.
Whether you enjoy this book for the beautiful product it is, or whether you want to embark on a deeper journey into learning more about the plant world, this book couldn’t be more highly recommended.
£30, Aeon Books
BATH IN 50 BUILDINGS by Pat Dargan
The Romans were of course adept at identifying a good location on which to build a settlement, and so when the River Avon’s hot springs were discovered, they made their claim and called it Aquae Sulis.
Much like Cheltenham of the Regency era, Bath became a fashionable town to take the waters during the Georgian period, and architects soon left their mark by creating elegant buildings, many constructed from the golden Bath Stone, leading to its status in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From the ancient glory of the Roman Baths to the Palladian elegance of The Holburne Museum, Bath in 50 Buildings is a visually rewarding reflection of a city that has largely preserved its worldclass architectural gems.
Before visiting next, we recommend you read this book and make a note to visit as many of Pat Dargan’s 50 recommended buildings as you possibly can.
£14.99, Amberley Publishing
BEFORE WALLIS: EDWARD VIII’S OTHER WOMEN by Rachel Trethewey
We all know Wallis Simpson as the American who stole the king’s heart and rocked the monarchy, but how much do we know about his other loves?
Rachel Trethewey’s book looks at the three women who could have just as easily changed the course of history: his wartime romance with Rosemary Leveson-gower; the lure of long-term mistress Freda Dudley Ward; and his twice-married American lover Thelma Furness. Through diary extracts and little seen photographs of the time, we’re treated to eyebrow-raising stories of flirtations and social climbing.
The book reveals Edward’s almost self-sabotaging actions, showing a flawed character who quite possibly didn’t want to be king at all.
£20, The History Press
BRITAIN’S HIDDEN RAILWAYS: A JOURNEY ALONG 50 LONG-LOST RAILWAY LINES by Julian Holland
This gorgeously illustrated largeformat book follows the paths of 50 derelict railway lines across some of the country’s most beautiful countryside.
Utilising Bartholomew’s historical maps – which are a joy in themselves – we’re guided along the routes, detailing the length for walkers and cyclists and noting sites of interest along the way. In this part of the country you can enjoy a picturesque Wye Valley walk; follow the disused track from Lydney to Coleford and Cinderford; and explore the line from Great Malvern to Ashchurch… you may then feel the urge to go further afield and experience the stunning Camel Train in Cornwall or walk the Highland Railway main line along the Dava Way.
Railway expert Julian Holland’s well researched text is accompanied by historical photographs showing each line in operation prior to its closure, as well as images from the present day.
£30, Times Books
KEMPE: THE LIFE, ART AND LEGACY OF CHARLES EAMER KEMPE by Adrian Barlow
This biographical study of the Victorian church artist Charles Eamer Kempe tells a compelling story of one of the most influential figures in late Victorian and Edwardian church art.
Drawing on newly available archive material, Adrian Barlow evaluates Kempe’s achievement in creating a school of artists and craftsmen who interpreted his designs, remaining fiercely loyal to his aesthetic and religious ideals.
Gloucester Cathedral is one of the key sites for Kempe glass, which includes his first known window, commissioned by his own Aunt Charlotte and designed for renowned stained glass workshop Clayton & Bell. In total, Gloucestershire has 105 Kempe windows, with key sites including the Cathedral, Tewkesbury Abbey, Newnham-on-severn and Bourton-on-the-water.
This book will appeal to everyone interested in Victorian art in general, and stained glass in particular. Illuminating!
£25, The Lutterworth Press
MAKING SIMPLE NEEDLE FELTS: 40 INSPIRING SEASONAL PROJECTS by Steffi Stern
We’re huge fans of Steffi’s work, and this book brilliantly conveys her inimitable energy and enthusiasm in this fascinating craft.
Following on from the success of her Making Needle Felted Animals, this back-to-basics guide includes clear steps and photos, so beginners and even small children can have a go.
One of the particularly lovely things about the book is that it’s arranged by season, and so we have butterflies and chicks for spring, roses and honey bees for summer, spiders and toadstools for autumn, and of course an adorable Father Christmas for winter... and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not make your own Nativity scene!
A lovely book that takes away the mystique from this enduring craft.
£16.99, Hawthorn Press
MORETONIN-MARSH THROUGH TIME by Mark Turner
Mark Turner is a retired police officer and member of the Moreton-in-marsh & District Local History Society. His latest book is the result of decades of research and is rich with ‘then-andnow’ photographs, illustrating just how much has changed in this popular Gloucestershire tourist destination but also, reassuringly, how much history has been retained.
The faces that peer out from shop doorways tell stories of previous trades in the market town that made its fortune on wool: Maces Confectionary on the High Street is now Cotswold Oriental Rugs; Keen’s Optician Shop became Cotswold Grey; and Strong’s Outfitters has a new lease of life as Jon Fox Antiques.
One particularly stirring image shows Sherman tanks in the town centre in 1944, before embarkation to Normandy for the D-day landings. The tanks may have been replaced with 21st-century family saloons, but little else has changed in this evocative scene.
£14.99, Amberley Publishing
RECIPES TO REMEMBER created by Kelly James and Natasha Willmore
Launched at this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival, this book – in support of Maggie’s – is a collection of nostalgic recipes and memories from well-known personalities, such as Jilly Cooper, Jeremy Vine, PJ Crook, Victoria Derbyshire, Nell Gifford, Raymond Blanc, and Kirsty Allsopp.
The book is a reminder that tastes or even mere aromas are enough to transport us back in time, recalling the flavours of our childhoods, such as chocolate crunch (Rachel Treweek); Christmas pudding (Rob Rees); slabkuchen (Nicholas Allan); family soup (Rufus Hound); sausage roast (Tom Kerridge); and banana loaf (Ben Shires). Featuring more than 60 mouthwatering recipes, the book is inspired by the personal journeys of compilers Kelly and Natasha, who felt compelled to help the charity that helps so many others who have been affected by cancer.
Profits go directly to Maggie’s to help them continue their important work.
‘Gloucestershire in Photographs is a beautiful book; a pastoral stroll through the county’s seasons’
TALES FROM THE TOWPATH by Fiona Eadie
Cotswold writer and storyteller Fiona Eadie studied at the International School of Storytelling in Sussex and can now be heard weaving her tales to adults and children alike across the area.
This new release from The History Press is a charming collection of imagined tales of life on the waterways in times gone by, giving us a glimpse into the very real issues people living and working the canals.
Spanning 250 years of life on the Cotswold canals, and mixing fact with fiction, the stories are complemented by the illustrations of Cotswold Life writer Tracy Spiers.
A beautiful book that can be enjoyed across the generations.
£9.99, The History Press
HISTORIC ENGLAND: CHELTENHAM by David Elder, with contributions by Historic England
For those that enjoy the Historic England series, this latest collection compiled by Cheltenham-based writer David Elder will be a very welcome addition.
His previous works on the town, as well as his excellent biography of Cheltenham-born Antarctic explorer Edward Wilson, make him more than qualified to bring us this nostalgic collection, comprising over 150 colour and black-and-white photographs, insightfully captioned by the writer.
Touching on ancient sites such as Leckhampton, Cleeve Hill and Battledown Camp, he then takes us into the Regency glamour of the spa town of George III’S reign, before bringing us bang up to date with the addition of GCHQ’S ‘doughnut’ building and even the recently opened John Lewis store on the High Street.
From the elegant architecture the town has become synonymous with, to the watch factory, the engineering works and the grunge of the gas works, this is a must-have for lovers of local history.
£14.99, Amberley Books
A BIKER’S LIFE by Henry Cole
If you have even a passing interest in motorcycling, you’ll know the name Henry Cole.
The presenter of TV shows such as The World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides; Find It, Fix It, Flog It!; and The Motorbike Show – as well as founder of bespoke British bike brand Gladstone Motorcyles – is well known to shed-dwellers and lovers of two wheels.
A Biker’s Life is a candid portrayal of his life to date, including being schooled at Eton, living with his eccentric aristocratic family (his dad wore a three-piece tweed suit every day of his life), recovery from heroin addiction, and setting the world land speed record for a pre-1955 750cc motorcycle on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
For the man who describes himself as “chronically uncompetitive”, his epic journeys have taken him to all four corners of the world, giving him countless adventures… and endangering his life on more than one occasion.
Written in relaxed, expletive-filled style, you’ll warm to Henry and his madcap adventures.
WILLIAM SIMMONDS: THE SILENT HEART OF THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT by Jessica Douglashome
Many of us know well the names Ernest Gimson, John Singer Sargent and Detmar Blow, but another talented figure was carving out a name for himself in the Arts and Crafts movement of the early to mid 20th century.
Jessica Douglas-home’s beautifully written biography tells the story of a man who became a central figure in the Cotswold artistic community between the wars, and whose name has become largely overshadowed by his peers.
Greatly inspired by the countryside around his Far Oakridge home, William Simmonds emerged as a master woodcarver of wild and domestic creatures, as well as a puppet-maker of some note. The abundance of colour plates show that he was also an incredibly skilled painter and draughtsman, and in particular his study of Ophelia, inspired by his walks along the River Coln in Gloucestershire, is breathtakingly beautiful.
This book is an affectionate study of a true Cotswold countryman and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE IN PHOTOGRAPHS by Aleks Gjika
For those of us lucky enough to live in Gloucestershire, it’s evident we’re surrounded by countryside of immense beauty. But how many of us have tried to capture that beauty with a photograph and been disappointed with the result?
Gloucester-based photographer Aleks Gjika has a deep love for his adopted county, and has combined this love with his artistic eye and technical photographic skills. Originally from Albania, Aleks has taken his joy of walking the hills and mountains of the country he was born in, and transferred it to this part of Britain, saying Gloucestershire is like a “truly breathtaking sculpture carved by the unique weather and its people.”
This beautiful book is a pastoral stroll through the county’s seasons, from riding the Severn bore in the spring and walking a misty path near Painswick Beacon, to watching the sun set from Crickley Hill and struggling through the snow in the Forest of Dean.
A beautifully compiled collection.
£16.99, Amberley Books
LADY OF THE CHASE: THE LIFE AND HUNTING DIARIES OF DAPHNE MOORE by Alastair Jackson
Daphne Moore was born in Tewkesbury in 1910, and spent her early life in what is now the Tudor House Hotel. In 1958 she was given a ‘grace and favour’ cottage on the Badminton Estate by the Duke of Beaufort, where she lived for the next 40 years. Over the decades, she became known for her reports in Horse & Hound magazine, but it is her personal diaries – illustrated with her charming watercolours – that are of particular interest.
Alastair Jackson, who first met Daphne in 1963, has written a wonderfully engaging book which opens up her diaries to the public for the first time, revealing a fascinating world of hunting and its characters from the 1930s to the 80s.
£25, Merlin Unwin Books