Accessibility Tools

NatureArt - Landscape and wildlife photography by Ceri Leigh

June

Life on the Floodplain

A Garden Wildlife Diary 2020

June — Storm over the floodplain:

‘A few raindrops plop on the earth. The sheep begin to bleat. And here it is. An almighty clap of thunder. Sheets of rain falling so fast that the drops splash back up into the air and the water rises on the surface of the road. I begin to wonder if the water will come in! I attempt to take a photograph from the window, but before I can focus the camera lens I reel back in as a great bolt of lightning spectacularly hits the floodplain in front of me. The storm is overhead and the sound of thunder roars over the hammering of rain. It passes overhead. I hear the thunder clap a second after the next lightning bolt. Then it lengthens to five second intervals, as it makes its way across the valley and mountains. Everything stops, still. Silence. Flies dance again high in the damp air. Nothing else moves, not a bird, not a leaf.

November

Life on the Floodplain

A Garden Wildlife Diary 2020

November — On PTSD:

‘A brighter; blue-sky day dawns cold, with low clouds blowing over the mountains. Right on cue, as forecast, the tops of the Beacons are dusted in snow like a layer of icing sugar; fine and powdery...

feel I’m on my first glimmer of looking out at the world beyond the confines of PTSD and the hyper vigilance that makes you feel under perpetual attack. Though it’s still there, now the feeling is perhaps outside the room rather than immediately at my side. Though it is of course, far too easy for me to retreat during a pandemic lockdown. The situation feels perverse. Don’t go out? Yes, I can do that, though it’s not who I was. I used to dance; I was happy to give speeches to a room full of people; I managed dozens of galleries. Who am I? I still have no idea…

Postscript

Life on the Floodplain

A Garden Wildlife Diary 2020

Postscript:

‘Watching the changing landscape grounds me; it connects me to the Earth and the present. ..

Finally, I have written down what I see and hear, and I hope it helps others to open their eyes to the beauty in their world. Because, if I have learnt anything from this year and the dreadful effects of the pandemic, it is that we all need to tune in and listen to what the natural world is telling us. To take care of our own environment. To let the Earth breathe. Treasure life...

Take care of the Earth.’

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow

The diary of one year in rural Wales, telling the story of the wildlife photographed in my garden on the Usk floodplain, as well as a bigger story of trauma, mental health and the power of nature to help heal the mind.

 

I was fascinated by wildlife as a child growing up in suburban Wales. I went on to study conservation and wildlife illustration before joining the Natural History Museum in London, initially as a graphic designer and then as Exhibitions Manager for Design & Conservation. Finally my dream job. However, an accident on my way home from work one day, frightening in its sudden simplicity, resulted in severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This caused flashbacks, seizures and anxiety, which still significantly affect my life.

I moved back to Wales with my family and, as a coping mechanism, began taking photographs with my phone of the surrounding landscapes and wildlife. I wrote brief notes every day about the wildlife in my garden, nestled between the mountains beside the Usk floodplain. This resulted in my book and local exhibitions of my photographs.


FoxglovesAndPemYFan © Ceri Leigh 2022

View from Bwlch towards Allt-yr-Esgair © Ceri Leigh 2022

 Reviews

By: Carrianne Ralph
In: Local Beacon magazine Nov 2021

Ceri Leigh's writing is so gentle and yet so honest. Her attention to detail grounds the reader in place and it is easy to see how this was a form of therapy for the writer, as it certainly becomes that for the reader. With all that took place throughout 2020, it is interesting to read the micro-happenings of her garden through lockdown alongside the macro-happenings of the world. The idea of nature as therapy really blooms between these pages. As an author, Ceri guides the reader through the headlines and memories of the Pandemic in such a way that getting lost within the writing feels as though you are strolling through her garden, and somewhere in the distance there is a television playing through an open window, the faint sound of news headlines being read. Reading this book was a uniquely therapeutic experience I didn't know I needed.

By: Adele Nozedar
On: Amazon UK October 2021

This is an absolutely wonderful book. Ceri Leigh is someone who REALLY understands the meaning of 'lockdown'. After an horrendous random accident ripped away the job she loved as a curator at the Natural History Museum, the world turned upside down, leaving and Ceri and her family having to deal with the aftermath of her very serious PTSD. Ceri turned to the natural world - the one right outside her window in the Brecon Beacons - as an unfolding source of solace.
This beautifully-written book may be based in the Brecon Beacons, but it has relevance anywhere far beyond a single geographical area, and will be prized by anyone who is interested in the natural world and its enriching influence for our minds, our hearts, and our souls.

"Life on the Floodplain" is available to order from

Local bookshops and

 online from

Amazon UK

Waterstones

Foyles