Posted by: billpurdue | December 29, 2009

80 Parrots and war memoirs

For the final posting for 2009, I’m going to tell you about a couple of books which have been sent to me by local authors or publishers.

If I was looking for a book to read, I probably wouldn’t reach for a book on parrots, but the new book by Rosemary West proved to be very interesting. When I received a copy of Go West for Parrots: a South American Odyssey by Rosemary Low [Insignis Publications £11.95 9780953133765] I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I needn’t have worried.  In this very readable book, Rosemary briefly describes her many journeys to Central and South America beginning in 1975 and spanning 33 years.  Her prime reason for visiting such places as Jamaica, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Argentina and many other Caribbean and South American countries was of course to see parrots, but she also describes other birds and animals as well as her travel experiences and a little about local people and culture.

So this book is part travelogue as well as an account of her observations of parrots. She puts things in context by describing a little about each country on her itinerary. Costa Rica for example is a country with no armed forces (something I certainly didn’t know) and Nicaragua is its poorer neighbour. Parrots in many parts are suffering from habitat destruction and other predations by humans and for most of the places she visits there is an update on what has been happening since her last visit, such as the progress of conservation projects and how various species are faring. So for anyone who wants to see exotic birds in their natural habitats in the Caribbean and Central and South America this book is for them. Of course it would be even better if there were colour illustrations, but that would considerably increase the price. There are identification guides available – at a much higher price.

Rosemary Low has written more than 20 books on parrots which have been translated into several languages.She is also the founder of the Notts Parrot Club which meets every month in Shirebrook.  Her new book is available from Insignis Publications, P O Box 100, Mansfield, Notts NG20 9NZ, Tel 01623 846430 and the price is £11.95 plus £3 postage. (Make cheques payable to Rosemary Low.)

The second book I received is quite different, but no less interesting and just as well written. Earlier this decade, Harry Stephenson published his book A Bit about Upper Langwith and Thereabouts. Included in the book were memories of people who had lived and farmed  in the Upper Langwith area in the 19th and early 20th centuries and one of the family names mentioned was that of Turner. A copy of the book went to a younger member of the Turner family who contacted Harry to say that his father, Cornelius Turner, had written his life story. He had tried to get it published, but to no avail. Harry said he would love to read the book and, having done so, decided to put it into a format suitable for publication. The result is There and Back: memoirs of a Derbyshire lad in war and peace [9780955962806] a fascinating  account of growing up on a farm near Palterton in the early 20thcentury followed by experiences in the second world war with a return to farming when the war ended.

The first half of the book is taken up with Cornelius’ life on the farm and his attempts to get away from a life he called boring, but eventually grew to like. Many local towns and villages feature here – including Bolsover, Chesterfield, Tibshelf, Astwith and Doe Lea. Then in 1936 he joined the Derbyshire Yeomanry and later the Sherwood Foresters. Later still he joined a glider squadron and won his wings. His numerous exploits are described including a meeting with Marshal Tito. Don’t be put off by the rather uninspiring title: it’s a really good read.  The book is available from Arizown Productions, 84 Berry Hill Road, Mansfield, NG18 4RR and the price is £9.99 plus £1.95 post and packing.

I certainly enjoyed reading both these books and hope they will reach a wide audience. That’s it for 2009, but I’ll be back next week with more. In the meantime, thanks for reading my blog and a Happy New Year to All.


  1. Very interesting read. Thanks.

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