This is the second part of two episodes with author Julian Hoffman. The first episode was about living with pelicans and bears in northern Greece, where Julian lives. 

Julian has published two books of non-fiction with a strong focus on landscapes, wildlife and heritage. In 2012 Julian’s debut book The Small Heart of Things was published, and in 2019 it was followed by Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places

We pick up right where we left off in episode one, with a question to Julian about his experiences of getting to know local people and telling their stories through his writing.

We get into some pretty deep topics in this episode including:

  • How the mathematics of life mean you can only connect with a handful of places in a meaningful way
  • The poverty of language around ‘brownfields’
  • Convincing politicians to pretend they’re jumping spiders!
  • Life-altering experiences in the North Kent Marshes
  • Oliver Rackham and the loss of meaning in the landscape
  • The importance of local green spaces in the pandemic and beyond

Massive thank you to Julian for his time and consideration in putting these two episodes together. Please support Julian by purchasing his book and following him on social media. Hope you enjoy!


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Intro music by Daniel Greenwood:

This is part one of two episodes with author Julian Hoffman. This episode focuses on Julian's life in northern Greece where he encounters European brown bears in his day to day life. We also discuss the local accents of wrens(!), particularly Liverpudlian wrens.

Julian has published two books. In 2012 The Small Heart of Things was published and in 2019 it was followed by Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places

I’m a big fan of both of these books. Julian does that rare thing for a nature writer and centres communities within the landscape. Irreplaceable is a great example of this, with Julian writing about local people the world over battling to save special places, habitats and species. 

Irreplaceable was the Highly Commended Finalist for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation

Julian details how he came to live in Prespa, how he became a writer there after working with his wife as a market gardener, toiling away in the open fields growing fruit and vegetables, and getting to know the locals.

Thanks so much for bearing with us and I hope you enjoy the episode.



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In this shorter episode I recorded a circular walk from home, checking up on an old beech tree in an area of woodland known as the Sussex Weald.

This is the first outdoor pod for Unlocking Landscapes, with lots of natural soundscapes to enjoy: mud, ice, streams, bog and birdsong.

The areas of interest here are:

  • Woodland streams, known in this area as 'gills'
  • Heathlands and plantations
  • Wood ants
  • Sphagnum moss bogs
  • Ancient and veteran trees, especially beech (Fagus sylvatica)

I'd love to know what you think  of this type of episode and if you'd like to hear more in future.

Thanks so much for listening and I hope you enjoy.



Episode recorded and edited by Daniel Greenwood in the West Sussex High Weald

High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

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In this episode of Unlocking Landscapes I speak to photographer Raki Nikahetiya. Raki lives in New Delhi and practices what he terms 'interdisciplinary photography'. His photographic work focuses on documentary, landscape, wildlife and other digital art forms. He is currently working on a project with the University of Barcelona on the subject of... cave paintings and petri dishes!

Raki talks about life in India where agrarian protests are raging and people are coming to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic. He also describes his upbringing in rural Sri Lanka and how that has inspired his work as a photographer and a community conservationist working with indigenous communities in Sri Lanka and Mozambique.

You can follow Raki's work through the links below:




In January 2021, at what we hope is the height of the UK’s Covid crisis I spoke to author Chris Schüler over Zoom about his upcoming book on London’s historic Great North Wood.

Chris has been a regular volunteer at Sydenham Hill Wood Local Nature Reserve in south-east London since 2011. His most recent book, Along the Amber Route: St Petersburg to Venice, published in February 2020, has been shortlisted for the Bookmark Book of the Year 2020 and the longlisted for the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize 2021. 

He is also the author of Writers, Lovers, Soldiers, Spies: A History of the Authors’ Club of London, 1891–2016, and three illustrated histories of cartography. He has written on literature, travel and the arts for The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Tablet, The Financial Times and the New Statesman, served as Chairman of the Authors’ Club from 2008 to 2015, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 2011. 

Chris’s upcoming book It’s a historical account of the Great North Wood, a cluster of ancient woodlands and green spaces that connect five boroughs in south London. 

In this episode we talk about the following things:

  • What inspired Chris to write the book and how he went about it
  • How the Great North Wood (GNW) was managed
  • How the GNW differs from other southern English wooded landscapes such as the Sussex Weald
  • The violent history of the GNW
  • How the plague impacted people living in the GNW
  • The GNW’s celebrities
  • Some of the now rare species recorded in the GNW centuries ago
  • The concerns about invasive species are not as new as we think
  • The attempts to eradicate hedgehogs and polecats
  • How the GNW will be viewed in 100 years


Links to references:

This is the introduction to the Unlocking Landscapes podcast. This short recording introduces your host for the pod and outlines some of the themes and ideas you should be expect to hear about with the podcast going forward. Thanks for listening!

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