Was it coincidence that I recently bought a birthday card designed by using Letterpress? I think not. For this method of printing is making a comeback according to The Economist. This centuries old…
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FROM PUSHCHAIR TO PLOUGHSHARE: A YORKSHIRE FARMER’S TALE
John D. Taylor
A delightfully presented and interesting memoir.
‘The Dalesman’, September 2014.
From Pushchair to Ploughshare: a Yorkshire Farmer’s Tale is a memoir that closely mirrors the man at its centre, John D. Taylor. Jam-packed with richly-drawn anecdotes that begin with his childhood years during the Second World War, spent first in the city of Hull, and then in the beautiful landscape of his beloved Nidderdale and Middlesmoor in Yorkshire. This blissful time was followed by the post-war years when his family returned to Hull but were intent on buying and building up their own farming business. Alongside his brother, John worked many back-breaking hours to realise this ambition, diversifying when new farming ventures were required. Yet fun was never that far away.
The reader will discover many of the colourful characters who have inhabited the author’s world, described with great accuracy and an eye for the comic. From ‘Eva Brick’, ‘Smokey Joe’ and ‘Mr C’ to his 6’ 7” great grandfather who owned a public house, ran a boxing club, and whose boxing ring was situated in one part of his L-shaped pub. Travelling abroad in his retirement has only served to add extensively to the roll-call of personalities that have crossed his path. Humour, resilience, pragmatism, and family devotion are the foundation stones of the author’s approach to life and all are found in abundance in the pages of From Pushchair to Ploughshare; a Yorkshire Farmer’s Tale, even those that are clouded with sorrow and pain. As John says of his book, ‘It’s a case of sunshine and showers’.
About the author
From Pushchair to Ploughshare; a Yorkshire Farmer’s Tale is the autobiography of John Taylor, born in 1937 in Hull, Yorkshire. At the outbreak of the Second World War he moved with his brother Geoff, his cousin Mike, and their mothers and maternal grandparents to live in a rented farmhouse in Upper Nidderdale. The four and a half years in Middlesmoor was to determine the future course of the two brother’s lives. In 1953, with a desire for their sons to become farmers, John’s parents sold their house in Ganstead, near Hull and bought Hill Farm at Thirtleby, East Yorkshire. For over 40 years Taylor Brother’s farmed Hill Farm, beginning with a dairy herd selling the milk through vending machines in Hull as partners in F & T Vending Ltd. Other enterprises were to include, broiler chickens, turkeys and pigs. John developed an interest in computers and in 1986 created Tabrotec Ltd that operated Britain’s first computerised on-line auction, selling pork and bacon pigs direct from farms to abattoirs, many years before the Internet made such a facility common place. Losing his son in a tragic accident on the farm there followed a very dark period in his life, the trauma of which led to the sad breakup of his previously very happy marriage. Retiring in 2002 he happily remarried and with his wife Irene, travelled extensively to many countries around the world, which he relates with many humorous anecdotes in his book.
Read feature article about the book and author in The Yorkshire Post: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/rural/farming/passion-and-tragedy-that-shaped-a-man-s-farm-life-1-6634094
5 June 2014; ISBN: 978-1-78280-284-6; Format: Softback; Extent: 228pp.; Illustrations: 117 b/w; Family tree and notes; 1 chart.
Retail price: £12.95; USD $21.74; CAN $23.65. There is a £3.00 postage and packing charge for UK orders..
TO ORDER copies of the book please click on the link to the From Pushchair to Ploughshare dedicated site: http://frompushchairtoploughshare.com/
Alternatively you can order through the publisher by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Grey Daggers and Minotaurs in Greenwich Park. Memories of a London Schoolboy Naturalist in the 1940s (John F. Burton).
JOHN F. BURTON
Foreword by Stephen Moss (producer of BBC 1’s Springwatch, broadcaster, writer)
Selected by the Guardian as one of the best Natural History books published in 2014.
This evocative book is based on the illustrated Natural History diaries that the author, John F. Burton, began writing in 1942 and has maintained ever since. It is the story of how one young South East London boy, midst the war-time experience of the Battle of Britain and the onslaught of the Blitz and the V1 and V2 attacks on London, developed his nascent interest and fascination with birds, butterflies, beetles and other British wildlife species into a post-war professional life dedicated to Ornithology and Natural History. Many of his diary entries with accompanying drawings and photographs are reproduced in the book, and recall with immediacy and freshness his memories of those now-distant days and field trips. Although the 1940s are long gone this ageless book will pique the interest of all generations fascinated by wildlife.
About the author
Born in Greenwich, London, John Burton began bird-watching in 1940 at the age of nine but gradually expanded his interests to other branches of Natural History as well, especially insects and wild plants. While still at school he became active in the junior branch of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and also in the London Natural History Society. As a result he was appointed by the Royal Parks as an official bird observer for Greenwich Park at the age of 16. On leaving the Roan School in Greenwich in 1948, his career took him from London’s Natural History Museum to Assistant Secretary of the British Trust for Ornithology, Oxford University and the editorial staff of Encyclopaedia Britannica.
He began broadcasting on BBC radio in the 1950s and in 1960 joined the internationally famous BBC Natural History Unit, where he ran and developed the BBC’s renowned library of wildlife sounds as well as broadcasting on radio and television, and producing radio programmes. Amongst the latter was his long-running series Sounds Natural, that featured interviews with eminent people and celebrities interested in wildlife and its conservation, such as Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Lord Home of the Hirsel, Bing Crosby, Humphrey Lyttelton, Spike Milligan, Eric Morecambe, Sir Harry Secombe and Frank Thornton. He was also involved in television production. Now in his eighties, John is still an active field naturalist and author. He is a Vice-President of Butterfly Conservation, a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. His previous books include The Oxford Book of Insects, Downland Wildlife and Birds and Climate Change.
Reviews for Grey Daggers and Minotaurs in 2014.
John Burton is one of the original urban birders and I salute him. Not only is this book a charming and fascinating account of his birding life in the 1940s, it is a slice of social history. It’s a must for any bookshelf. David Lindo, The Urban Birder.
John Burton is one of the last of the all-round naturalists. As one of the outstanding post-war generation of London naturalists he knew the likes of James Fisher, Richard Fitter, Eric Hosking and Ernest Neale. It records in loving detail the lists of birds and butterflies, the friendships and small adventures from that now distant time when boys could roam about on their bikes doing more or less what they pleased. Today it seems almost as far away and long ago as W.H. Hudson’s Argentina.
Peter Marren, British Wildlife, April 2014.
‘Before I knew it, I was half way through [the book] and had completely lost track of time. Perhaps this is at least in part, because as a representative of the post-war generation of naturalists affecting south east London, John Burton met just about all and knew most of the ‘famous names’ of that era. Perhaps I recognise in author various familiar elements of my own schooldays, wandering around … without fear of strange men lurking in bushes … ‘
Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation, (26), May 2014.
John Burton, living at what was then the edge of southeast London, started a journal focused mainly on natural history in 1940, at the age of nine. The book provides an interesting insight into the birds and invertebrates, especially Lepidoptera, that could still be found in areas that subsequently became part of London’s urban sprawl. The nesting Wood Warblers Phylloscopus sibilatrix and flocks of Hawfinches Coccothraustes coccothraustes, within walking distance of his home in the 1940s are simply inconceivable today.
Peter Oliver, ‘British Birds’, April 2014.
London naturalists will recognise many of the sites in south east London and the adjoining areas of Kent that the author describes. Many others however, are now changed beyond recognition, the post-World War Two expansion of London rivalling that of the Victorian era in changing open country to bricks and mortar… A very worthwhile book of record.
David W. Allen, The London Naturalist, No. 92, 2013.
Publication date: January 2014; ISBN: 9-781782-802068; Format: Softback; Extent: 436 pp.; Illustrations: 113 b/w
Retail price: £16.50; USD $27.00; CAN $28.00 There is a £5.60 postage and packing charge for UK orders. Please enquire for postal charges for overseas orders.
Click on the link to see and hear John Burton talking about his life as a naturalist on the BBC’s ‘Wild Film History’ website: http://www.wildfilmhistory.org/oh/6/clip/575/section/25/John+F.+Burton%3A+Developing+an+interest+in+natural+history.html