The natural world has been a recurring theme in the pages of this magazine for many years and looking back over some of the articles in this issue, it’s clear there are many natural wonders that inspire our readers and contributors. In our cover story, Hannah Bourne-Taylor talks about her youth around the Marshwood Vale and remembers how on warm summer nights when it was difficult to sleep she would hold hands with her father in the garden and listen to the song of the nightingale. Hannah went on to become fiercely dedicated to the natural world around her. Although her book Fledgling is a beautiful memoir of her time spent looking after finches and swifts in Ghana, it is also about so much more than that. We are delighted this month to welcome Michael McCarthy who is writing a column entitled ‘Nature Studies’. Michael describes it as an incomer’s discovery of the natural world in the West Country. He is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world, the former Environment Correspondent of The Times and later the longstanding Environment Editor of The Independent. Seeing local aspects of nature opening up through the eyes of someone so passionate about the environment is a joy. Also in this issue, Robin Mills remembers the ‘unforgettable privilege’ of spending an afternoon with the late James Lovelock who passed away on his 103rd birthday in July. Despite occasionally sharing views that were not universally accepted, James was without doubt an extraordinary man and will be remembered for proposing the Gaia hypothesis which sees the Earth function as a self-regulating system. His pioneering ideas and, as Robin puts it ‘his ability to connect evidence from a variety of scientific fields into a hypothesis of global significance’ made him a visionary figure. Staying on the subject of the future, I was fortunate enough to meet with former film producer Nick Goldsmith recently to learn about his initiative to help local school children explore and enjoy the process of writing. With numerous excellent literary festivals to look forward to in the coming months, it’s exciting to see that a vision for making writing more inclusive to young people may help to shape a path to our literary future.