Quick, hide your typos and misplaced commas

Grammar Police Arriving Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’ve noticed an alarming trend on Medium of late. Some of the mean bitchiness and downright nastiness that inhabits so much of the rest of the social media universe has started to creep in here. By in large, we’ve managed to keep ourselves free of it for years.

I avoid entering the swamp that we call social media. No Facebook, not even a LinkedIn profile. I’m just too fragile for the malice and spitefulness that seems to be an accepted part of that arena. Medium seemed to be a somewhat different playing field. …


Rewilding on my own terms

Black bird on a tree
Black bird on a tree
Blackbird in my kingdom. Image by Annette Meyer from Pixabay

One of the first things we are taught as nature lovers is that we should not interfere with nature. We should allow her to run her course without interference or passing judgment on some of the atrocities that she commits.

To me, that has always been a bit of a foolish argument. Having bent, twisted, and downright damaged most of the environment, often beyond repair, we now decide to abandon it and allow it to do its own thing.

It’s like walking away from a car wreck and suggesting that the mangled carcass of the vehicle should be allowed to…


Stop kidding yourself that you are anything else

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

When I first began to realize that Medium wasn’t going to pay for my Ferrari or even a monthly tank of gas for my beaten-up old van, I decided to focus purely on nature writing.

My motivation was simple, I like writing about nature, and such articles are notoriously hard to sell. Magazines do occasionally take environmental pieces from me, but those sales are as rare as chicken's teeth.

With Medium as a channel to write on the subject I am most passionate about, almost at will, I then suffered my next disappointment; nobody cares. …


Helpful snake identification tips to avoid

Photo by Alёsha Lamkinson from Pexels

I grew up in Africa and my wife spent many years in Australia. This frequently leads to heated arguments about the rather unusual subject of venomous snakes.

Africa has its fair share of cobras, mambas, and the like, all of which can give a fatal bite. According to my wife, none of these snakes have a thing on Australian snakes, which, as she tells it, can cause death if you just walk in the same neighborhood.

The Biblical book of Genesis is quite unequivocal about the fact that there will always be animosity between serpents and women, and I have…


Will our children even notice the natural world?

Once, We Saw Purple
Once, We Saw Purple
Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

With spring finally starting to make her reappearance, the violets are beginning to elbow their way through the earth here in south-western France.

There are so many of these little purple flowers popping up in the wild that it can be difficult not to tread on them when walking out in the countryside. As we are still strictly confined, countryside walks are one of the few activities we can easily engage in at the moment.

Although I am fond of violets, it is the way they have managed to incorporate their way into both French culture and history that makes…


Teaching ourselves to see nature again

Awe for the Everyday
Awe for the Everyday
Image by Etienne GONTIER from Pixabay

When my seven-year-old daughter approached me carrying an enormous green caterpillar with turquoise dots and announcing it was her new pet, I was secretly quite pleased. William the worm would save me having to look for a suitable puppy.

Although my suspicion was that the caterpillar wasn’t destined for a very long life, I allowed her to place him in the bottom of a shoebox — it was definitely a him she informed me, along with a pile of leaves from the bush in which he had been discovered. After that, I didn’t think much more about it.

Two days…


Close encounters with a felon of the animal world

The Fox That Saw Me
The Fox That Saw Me
Image by Erik Karits from Pixabay

I enjoy jumping onto my mountain bike and losing myself in the countryside and forests around my home. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I throw on some cycling gear, strap on my bright yellow helmet (won’t someone please come up with a sensible-looking cycle helmet), and head for the woods.

Cycling is a big part of French culture, and here there are thousands of miles of clearly defined cycle paths. They are well maintained and signposted, and it is easy to know how far you are from your destination or departure point.

I am more inclined to explore the narrow…


Nature’s Iron Man

Image by Nel Botha from Pixabay

From my home, it is an eight-mile walk along the famous St Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage to the ancient monastery of Rocamadour. It is a route that has been trodden by pilgrims for over a thousand years.

Along that eight-mile section, the path winds through a steep-sided valley that looks like it was sliced by a giant with a very large knife. The valley is dotted with ruined flour mills that would once have enabled their owners to make a good living selling bread to passing pilgrims.

For those a little more in the know, there is an alternative route…


Saving the planet and other questionable hobbies

I Saved Three Turtles and a Dolphin Yesterday
I Saved Three Turtles and a Dolphin Yesterday
Image by A_Different_Perspective from Pixabay

Once a man goes past a certain age, buying him Christmas presents can become something of a trauma. Of course, if he plays golf or collects sports memorabilia, things might be a little easier. If he happens to be a grumpy old git, whose main pastime is walking, then life for the shopper is hard. How many pairs of socks can you give to the man who has everything before he stops talking to you?

I have to say that this Christmas, my wife excelled herself. Reading me like a book, though perhaps a dog eared one that she was…


How invasive aliens are changing the planet

The Alien Invasion
The Alien Invasion
Image by gayulo from Pixabay

Many years ago, I was writing environmental and gardening columns for an English language publication in France.

I wrote a piece on Japanese knotweed, a plant that has become a real problem in many countries.

Japanese knotweed

Introduced to Europe in the 1800s as a garden exotic, this rampant plant soon began to make a nuisance of itself. It sends its root down to a depth of three meters and spreads them horizontally as widely as seven meters.

Those roots can penetrate concrete and road surfaces and can even knock down walls. …

Mike Alexander

France based freelance writer with a passion for the environment and quirky cultural history. http://mediumauthor.com/@mikealexander wordseeker46@yahoo.com

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