The Friends of Charles Darwin Blog

The Darwin bicentennial oak, 9 years on

The Darwin Bicentennial Oak
12-Feb-2009
The Darwin Bicentennial Oak
24-May-2009
The Darwin Bicentennial Oak, 2 years on
12th-Feb-2011
12-Feb-2013
12-Feb-2013
The Darwin bicentennial oak, 6 years on
12-Feb-2015
The Darwin bicentennial oak, 7 years on
12-Feb-2016
The Darwin bicentennial oak, 8 years on
12-Feb-2017
The Darwin bicentennial oak, 9 years on
12-Feb-2018

Nine years ago today, I planted the Darwin Bicentennial Oak in my garden. I am pleased to report that it is still doing well.

I have now spent nine years gathering material for the longest time-lapse movie ever. Or should that be shortest?


Book launch: ‘On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk’

158 years ago today saw the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Darwin was staying on the edge of Ilkley Moor at the time, just 13 miles as the curlew flies from where I type these words.

What better excuse could I possibly need for choosing today to launch my own medium opus inspired by another Yorkshire moor…

I’m delighted to announce that my book On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk is now available as both a paperback and Kindle ebook on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other international Amazon websites.

On the Moor covers (front and back)

On the Moor shows how a routine walk in the countryside is enhanced by an appreciation of science, history, and natural history. It covers an eclectic mix of topics, with each chapter being inspired by something I encountered or was thinking about during one of my regular walks over the last 25 years on the Moor above my home. These topics include:

  • Charles Darwin’s weird experiments and ailments;
  • the 17th-century skeptic Sir Thomas Browne;
  • Celtic languages;
  • Bronze Age burials;
  • evolution’s kludgy compromises;
  • bird migration;
  • DNA barcoding;
  • skull anatomy;
  • where Earth got its water;
  • the mapping of Great Britain;
  • grouse disease;
  • Scott of the Antarctic;
  • how to define a species;
  • Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath;
  • the Brontës;
  • the Laws of Thermodynamics;
  • why the sky is blue (and sunsets red);
  • the Greenhouse Effect;
  • the songs of skylarks;
  • snipe courtship;
  • vapour trails;
  • rooks’ faces;
  • the best way to cook a wheatear.
  • …Oh, and there’s even a plane crash!

I appreciate I’m a bit biased, but I think you’ll like it.

But don’t feel you have to take my word for it. Here’s what nature writer Neil Ansell had to say about On the Moor:

Richard Carter's fascinating exploration of his local grouse-moor in West Yorkshire digs deep into natural history, human history, prehistory, and the history of science. His writing is grounded, insightful, and frequently hilarious, and he shows how falling in love with your own local patch can be a gateway to the whole world.

Well, exactly, Neil! (The cheque’s in the post.)

…Are you still here? What are you waiting for? GO AND BUY MY BOOK, DAMMIT!




End of an era

It was bound to happen eventually.

This morning, I went to the cash point for some money, only to be presented with a wad of brand new £10 notes featuring Jane Austen instead of Charles Darwin. It’s the end of a magnificent era.

Austen tenners
Some Jane Austen tenners (and a Charles Darwin tenner) this morning.

Call it sour grapes, if you like, but I’m unimpressed by the new notes. I was always going to be. Replacing Darwin could be nothing but a huge step backwards, as far as I was concerned. But the new, plastic tenners are way too Austentatious for my taste. I understand and support the calls for more women on bank notes, but couldn’t we have had the Brontë sisters instead? Three women for the price of one, who would also plug another outrageous gap of there being no people from the North of England on our bank notes.

Still, the Darwin tenner had an excellent run, and I’m pleased to report I still have several pristine notes tucked safely away inside one of the many Darwin biographies on my study bookshelves.