My latter-day natural history notes and lists are largely objects that don't largely physically exist beyond being pixels on a screen that disappear as soon as a computer is switched off. As much as the information on which they are built has been compiled by my physical and, at times, emotional endeavour, they lack a character - it is but cold data. However, that same 'information' that has, in the past, been written by my fair hand onto paper.... well, this is something that has spirit, it is a combination of personal touch and a gift from the natural world via a tree. I can hold it, smell it, fold it (but maybe not a hard-backed notebook!). It can also be browsed through, organic reminders of what I've seen, where I've been and what I thought. The computer screen does not allow such emotions to come so easily flooding back on a personal level. My old notebooks are great reminders of who I was at the time, from the state of my handwriting to the use of phrase - I do tend to be more descriptive with pen in the hand, And some of you out there regularly embellish these three-dimensional celebrations with line drawings, illustrations and artistic flourishes - they become things of beauty.
Where is this all going? Well, next year I am keen to immerse myself more fully into the wild flowers of my über patch, and largely down to my semi-imposed computer break will record the whole adventure on paper, long-hand, a written account that will be as much a celebration of the ability to write and paint as it will be of the botanical wonders that I see along the way. We may well have replaced our broken computer by the start of 2018, but I will still carry on with this project via the medium of ink, paint and paper regardless. There will be times when the keyboard will be put to use, no more so than when I am boring you with tales of tracking down the rarities, counting the orchids or being overwhelmed by a mass flowering of the common place. And there will still be photographs to share. It is a great opportunity to learn (and relearn) the identification of the many plant species that I am lucky enough to have within a 10-mile radius of home. And next year this will include the rushes, sedges and grasses. I'm already excited by such a simple undertaking.