Every once in a while, a book comes along that makes us see London in a different way. The Tree Climber's Guide by Jack Cooke is a supreme example. In fact it goes beyond that, revealing the capital in over 70 new ways, from vantage points few of us would even consider.
What are we talking about? Well, Jack likes to climb London's trees. He's not shy about it, either. The many ascents described in this book include a sweet gum tree whose branches scratch the walls of St Paul's, various specimens in the security-minded Royal Parks, and an oak tree in the private Kensington Roof Gardens.
His descriptions are a joy to read, encapsulating the simple pleasures and the challenges of scaling a tree. From his lofty perch, Jack throws out plenty of historical trivia and observational humour.
Whether you dare follow Jack up into the branches or not, his guide opens up a whole different way of exploring London. We've carried his book everywhere for the past month, seeking out his recommended trees from Finsbury Park to Wandsworth Common. In doing so, we've come to appreciate our city's arboreal bounty in new ways. One of these days, we might even overcome our reservations and actually shin up into the canopy.
A dendritic delight.
The Tree Climber's Guide by Jack Cooke is out now from HarperCollins.