New non-fiction: The British Wildlife Year by Dominic Couzens

9780719811852The British Wildlife Year

In this unique book Dominic Couzens provides a precise record of what happens in the natural world in Britain for each week of the year.

What sets this book apart from other wildlife books is that it includes individual ‘diaries’ for all the common animals, from foxes, badgers and hedgehogs to blue tits and honey bees.

The book also covers aquatic life, from stickleback spawn to salmon, as well as plants, including the best time to pick blackberries. The author includes monthly highlights of what to look out for and where, including where to see the best wildlife events and displays.

From the best time to view the flowering of a bluebell wood to understanding the secretive ‘flower dance’ of bees, the book illustrates and explains the natural world around us. With tips and suggestions on places to visit and activities to take part in, this is an engaging book for all wildlife enthusiasts.

The British Wildlife Year is as absorbing and surprising as the wildlife that it describes.

Dominic Couzens is one of Britain’s best known writers on birds and wildlife. He has produced numerous books, including The Secret Lives of Garden Birds, Extreme Birds, The Secret Lives of Garden Wildlife and the travel memoir My Family and 50 Other Animals. His last book for Robert Hale was A Patch Made in Heaven (2012). He has often been involved in television programmes both as a consultant and on-screen, including BBC Autumnwatch, Snowwatch and The Animals’ Guide to Britain.

Buy your copy of The British Wildlife Year here.

New non-fiction: The Bishop’s Brothels

9780719816574 The Bishop’s Brothels

Drawing on a wealth of contemporary source material, The Bishop’s Brothels is a fascinating social history of how commercial sex has been bought and sold in London for over a thousand years.

The Bankside Brothels, or ‘stewes’, were a celebrated feature of London life since Roman times. Located on the south side of the River Thames, in the Bishop of Winchester’s ‘Liberty of the Clink’, they were a highly lucrative source of revenue for the Church. In AD 1161 a royal decree ordered that these establishments be licensed and regulated. For many years they attracted the great and the not-so-good, helping to make Southwark the ‘pleasure-garden’ of London.

But who were the people of the Bankside Brothels? What living conditions did they have to endure? How did women cope with the constant threat of violence, unwanted pregnancy and venereal disease? The streets of Southwark and those who walked them are vividly brought to life in this richly researched exploration of the history of this stretch of the Thames over the centuries.

Through the stories of those who lived and worked in this fascinating part of London, we can begin to gain an understanding of a crucial but hitherto neglected aspect of the social history of England.

E. J. Burford
E.J. Burford as a popular historian who wrote several bestselling social histories that explored the lives of ordinary people in England. He died in 1997.


Buy your copy of The Bishop’s Brothels here.


New non-fiction: Writers’ Houses by Nick Channer

Writers’ Houses: Where Great Books Began

Foreword by Julian Fellowes Step inside the homes of some of the world’s finest writers and experience for yourself the surroundings that inspired them to write.9780719806643

Writers’ Houses reflects Britain’s impressive literary and architectural heritage, offering a revealing insight into how leading British writers lived and wrote. Illustrated in colour, the book guides you through the very rooms that inspired writers to produce some of their greatest work. Drawing upon the writers’ own words, the book examines in detail the personal relationship between each house and writer and discusses the influence these places have had upon the imagination and creativity of British novelists, poets and playwrights from the past five hundred years. Over fifty houses are explored including Agatha Christie’s secluded West Country retreat, the ancient, timber-framed residence in Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare spent his boyhood, Dylan Thomas’ boat-house at Laugharne, the cottage where Robert Burns was born and brought up, and the moated house and garden in East Sussex that inspired the evocative setting for a Sherlock Holmes story. Follow in the footsteps of your favourite authors and be inspired by the surroundings in which some of literature’s best-loved characters were created.

Nick Channer

Nick Channer is a regular contributor to many publications, including theDaily Telegraph, Country Life and the Scots Magazine. He is particularly interested in walking and travel, social history, literary tourism and journeys from fiction. Nick has also contributed to a documentary on youth hostelling, broadcast on BBC Radio Four. He lives at the heart of England – not far from Shakespeare’s birthplace.

New non-fiction: Neglected Music by Neil Butterworth

Neglected Music: A Repertoire Handbook for Orchestras and Choirs

This book is a unique guide for musicians who are seeking new material to perform. Over 400 pieces of music from the seventeenth century to the present day have been selected, covering a very wide range of styles and nationalities. Under each entry details are given of numbers and types of performers required, duration of piece, publisher, and availability of material and recordings. A description is supplied for each item with an assessment of difficulty, plus other specific guidance.

9780719815805Emphasis has been placed on works the performance material of which can be purchased, to enable musical organizations to avoid the cost of repeatedly hiring music and allowing them to build a library for the future.

In addition to choral and orchestral works, a section on opera has been included with information on thirty works suitable for amateur and student performance. A wealth of information, this book will prove invaluable for musicians of all kinds wishing to widen their repertoire.


Neil Butterworth

Neil Butterworth was born in London in 1934. He studied at Nottingham University, London University and the Guildhall School of Music. From 1968 to 1987 he was Head of the Music Department at Edinburgh Napier University. For many years he was music critic for the Times Educational Supplement and the Sunday Times Scotland, and a reviewer for Classic CD. In addition he was a frequent broadcaster for BBC Radio Scotland. He also conducted the Glasgow Orchestral Society for twenty-six years.

Buy your copy of Neglected Music here

New non fiction: Picked Up, Patched Up and Sent Home: Why I Love the NHS by Carl Walker

Picked Up, Patched Up and Sent Home: Why I Love the NHS

‘One of the things that has been missing during the debate over the NHS is something that speaks to the experiences of normal folk and reminds people just what an amazing thing a public national health service really is. Like so many British people, I have used the NHS for a number of reasons throughout my life – some serious, others less so – but where would I be now without it? I honestly don’t know.’

Iso - NHS

This book represents the real-life stories of all of us who are routinely and often unnoticeably held together by the people who work in the NHS. These are the people who patch up, sew back together, irradiate, advise, scan, plaster, console, repair, inject and support us, before delivering us back home to carry on our lives.

A sharply observed collection of sometimes outrageous, often excruciating but always entertaining accounts of different interactions with one of Britain’s greatest treasures.

Nothing about the savaging of the NHS makes me laugh. Until this book. Carl Walker mounts a timely defence of our National Health Service that just happens to be laugh out loud funny. Ideal for fans of ‘not dying’ everywhere.’ Rufus Hound, Comedian

‘A thoroughly enjoyable antidote to much of the nonsense peddled about the NHS these days….lively, sharp, informative.’ Oliver Huitson, Co-Editor, openDemocracy

Carl Walker
Carl Walker is a principal lecturer in psychology at the University of Brighton and has fifteen years’ experience researching and publishing academic work on human behaviour. He is uniquely qualified to write this book on account of having embarrassed himself more times in a medical setting than any other human being alive.

Get your copy here.

New non-fiction title: Australia in the Great War

Australia in the Great War

Australia iaustralian the Great War is a compelling history of Australia and its people during the global conflict of 1914–1918. It charts the experiences of ordinary men and women against a backdrop of momentous events on the international stage, and shows how war helped shape an emerging Australian national identity. It spans the heady days of August 1914, when Australia responded enthusiastically to the mother country’s call for help, through the baptisms of fire at Gallipoli and on the Somme, to the dark days of Passchendaele and the remarkable battlefield performances of 1918 when the Australians were acknowledged as ‘the shock troops of the British Empire’.

Interweaving stories from the home front and the battle front, Australia in the Great War examines the lives (and deaths) of those who fought on European soil. But it also explores the lives of those left half-a-world behind: the civilians at home who watched from afar. Mothers, wives and girlfriends waited anxiously for news ‘from the front’, and local newspapers published extended commentaries on the happenings overseas. Young men were encouraged to join the colours but there was also a fierce debate on whether conscription to the armed forces should be introduced in Australia. Eventually, in 1919, Australian troops were repatriated, but they found their country much changed, and many had difficulty readjusting to civilian life. This is their story: a tale of sacrifice and bravery in a place far from home.

Philip Payton
Philip Payton is Emeritus Professor of Cornish & Australian Studies at the
University of Exeter, UK, and Adjunct Professor of History at Flinders
University in Adelaide, Australia. The author/editor of more than forty
books, he has written extensively on Australian history.

Philip spent his early childhood in Perth, Western Australia, and later studied
for his doctorate at the University of Adelaide. A former Naval officer, he
has a particular interest in military affairs. Today, he divides his time
between Cornwall and Australia.

Buy your copy of Australia in the Great War here

New non-fiction: Itchen Memories by G. E. M. Skues

Itchen Memories
Itchen Memories is not a general collection of fishing memoirs concerning past days spent along various Itchen beats. It concerns just one, specific, length of this lovely chalk stream. The watery maze of carriers, ditches and drains which criss-cross
Winchester’s northern water-meadows, for centuries known as Abbotts Barton, is the sole setting for this collection of stories.

This reissue of a classic of twentieth-century angling literature, unavailable for many years, will be welcomed by anyone interested not only in the sport but in experiencing the troubled beauty of England’s countryside between the wars, viewed through the eyes of a naturally gifted writer.

Completely reset and beautifully presented with the original line drawings by Alex Jardine, the book also features an introduction by Roy Darlington.


G.E.M. Skues
The legendary G.E.M. Skues was the greatest innovative angler of modern times. Author of the seminal Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream, The Way of the Trout with a Fly, and Nymph Fishing for Chalk Stream Trout, he also had published posthumously in 1951, Itchen Memories. In an altogether more reflective and anecdotal volume Skues describes memories of over fifty years’ angling on his beloved Abbotts Barton Fishery. Itchen Memories beautifully evokes the time and place and gives a rare insight to the ‘master’ himself.

Buy your copy of Itchen Memories here.

New non-fiction: Yummy Discoveries: Worry-Free Weaning by Felicity Bertin and Dr Anna Walton

Most parents know what their children should be eating but getting them to eat it is often a challenge. Fussy eating is a massive problem in Western society and British children are the fussiest in Europe, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Research has shown that eating patterns are established by the age of two, and how a child is weaned and parented around food in their early years significantly shapes their lifelong habits.

9780719813078With 1 in 4 under-fives now overweight or obese, the UK has a generation facing chronic health conditions including diabetes. Worry-Free Weaning will empower parents to help their child to establish a healthy relationship with food: giving the facts and dispelling the myths so that they can make an informed decision about the best way to introduce solids to their child.

Drawing on their clinical expertise and insight, as well as their own parenting experience, the authors offer practical advice, recipes and menu ideas. Worry-Free Weaning gives parents and children the tools and the confidence to experiment with mealtimes and to develop a lifelong healthy attitude to eating.

Worry-free Weaning is published this week. Download a free tipsheet from the authors at

Baly-led weaning recipe bookYummy Discoveries: The Baby-Led Weaning Book, by Felicity Bertin and Emma Ogden-Hooper published in 2013. The book features over 150 healthy, flavoursome recipes suitable for weaning babies and offers a step-by-step guide to help parents through the process.

‘Packed with information, recipes and ideas to help you’ – Baby London on The Baby-Led Weaning Book.

Launch of Cherry’s Model Engines

DSC_0293On Tuesday evening we launched Cherry’s Model Engines in the Manufacturing Room of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Overlooking St. James’ Park, the building houses several of Cherry Hill’s models and she is one of only two fellows of the institution, so this was a fitting location for the event.

The attendees included prestigious figures from the model engineering world, with some having travelled from as far afield as Cumbria to be there. Of course, Cherry herself was there (before flying back to Florida the next day!) and very much in demand – everybody wanted her to sign their copy of the book. Two of the smaller models were on display in the room, and a video played in the background showing Cherry not only making the models, but also the models running once completed.9780719814211

David gave a wonderful speech about his admiration for Cherry’s work and how he came to write the book, including some lovely words about the process of publishing with Robert Hale Ltd.

Cherry’s Model Engines: The Story of the Remarkable Cherry Hill, by David Carpenter, is out now and available to buy from all good booksellers.

OUT NOW: Basic Watercolour by Charles Williams

Basic WatercolourAfter a long period living and working in that bustling artistic centre that is London’s East End, Charles Williams is now living in a vast, crumbling mansion in an obscure town in Kent, painting and writing, and teaching at Canterbury Christ Church University.

Williams’ work has been shown in public and commercial galleries in the UK and abroad, and his previous book, Basic Drawing: How To Draw What You See, reflects his deeper interest in enabling an appreciation of the practical side of the visual arts.

Basic Watercolour: How to Paint What You See by Charles Williams

Watercolour has an anomalous position in the visual arts. Its association with Victorian lady-amateurs, the (incorrect) idea that it is a fugitive medium and will fade over time, as well as the contradictory ideas that it is very difficult to use and that it is a beginner’s medium, mean that it has long been sidelined in favour of oil and acrylic paints. But ‘Watercolour’, a recent blockbuster show at the Tate Britain, and the contemporary interest in less conventional media point to a renewed interest in this underrated art-form.

Watercolour painting does have particular difficulties – it is transparent and therefore fairly unforgiving, for a start – but its advantages are huge. It is light and easy to carry the kit about, it is easy to clean and to prepare, it is unobtrusive, and a lot of the material you need you will already have around the house – a jam jar, water and don’t forget the most important item: toilet tissue!

Watercolour is also a great and constantly evolving challenge, and can be used in all sorts of ways. Within these pages a range of artists share their very diverse approaches to painting in watercolour, to give the reader an idea of how adaptable and enjoyable this medium really is.

Basic Watercolour: How to Paint What You See by Charles Williams is available to buy now

Basic Watercolour