Michael Berkeley's guest this week is Richard Mabey, who has been described as 'Britain's greatest living nature writer'. His first book, 'Food for Free', came out in 1972, and since then he has published a stream of acclaimed books including a biography of Gilbert White, which won the 1986 Whitbread Biography of the Year', the ground-breaking bestseller 'Flora Britannica' (1996), and his latest book 'Weeds' (2010). He contributes frequently to BBC radio, wrote and narrated the 1996 BBC TV series 'Postcards from the Country', and has made films for the BBC on Kew Gardens and the Yorkshire Dales. He is currently working on a book about Flora Thompson, author of 'Lark Rise to Candleford'.
His musical passions are wide-ranging, from a charming madrigal by John Dowland (which reminds him of his schooldays) and George Butterworth's poignant setting of Housman's 'Is my team ploughing?' to a modern setting of a First World War protest song, an improvisation by clarinettist David Rothenberg and two colleagues over the song of marsh warblers, 'The Quail' from Canteloube's 'Songs of the Auvergne', a male-voice choir from a Corsican hill-town singing a traditional song, and two contrasting pieces from Latin America, including one played by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela.