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After working in universities for 30 years as a biomedical scientist, I took early retirement in 2009 and moved to Devon. I am Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Reading and writing is now my principal occupation. I write about science and about nature with a particular focus on how science fits in to society.
One of the more unusual features of the magnificent St Mary’s Church in Ottery St Mary is the ancient astronomical clock. Not only does it tell the time, it also shows the age and phase of the moon, and it Read more »
The west Dorset coast contains many wonders but one stands out above all others. This is Golden Cap, the distinctive steep-sided, flat-topped hill with its golden edge and cliffs falling precipitously to the sea. Visible for miles around and rising Read more »
Sunny days, long evenings, a barbecue at the beach? Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? But as we light the charcoal, do we ever think about where it comes from? I wanted to know, so I went to Higher Halstock to meet Read more »
‘Black Gold’ in Hardy’s Wessex – the surprising story of oil in Dorset by Philip Strange It’s difficult to believe but one of the most beautiful parts of Dorset is home to the largest on-shore oil field in Western Europe. Read more »
The snowdrop is one of the earliest flowers to appear, even in a hard winter. The pure white blooms anticipate the eventual arrival of spring and attract affectionate common names such as February Fair Maids, Dingle-dangle, Candlemas Bells, Mary’s Taper, Read more »
Willow trees are a familiar sight along river banks in this country, especially the weeping willow with its graceful, pendulous branches reaching down to the water below. As well as enhancing our countryside, the willow has been generous in providing Read more »
The Apocalypse Philip Strange spoke to astrobiologist, science writer and broadcaster, Dr Lewis Dartnell. The world as we know it has ended! Perhaps a huge asteroid struck the planet, fatally changing the climate, killing millions, or … A thermonuclear war Read more »
A surprising picture appeared in the Guardian newspaper towards the end of June. It showed fields, near Blandford, painted lilac with the flowers of the opium poppy. This controversial crop, associated in many people’s minds with war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Read more »
The village of Briantspuddle lies near tranquil water meadows in the valley of the River Piddle, some eight miles to the east of Dorchester. Nowadays, Briantspuddle is all pretty cottages, thatched roofs and peace and quiet. The village was far Read more »
A medieval crossroads, a motorway junction from a former time, a secret spot, a time/space vortex, a geological oddity. These are some of the descriptions of the Dorsetshire Gap, a curious conjunction of ancient trackways and chalk landscape deep in Read more »