Increasingly people tell me that they're unable to watch or listen to the news these days because world affairs are so bleak and, even reading the newspaper, I find that I am skimming pages, only taking in the headlines.

With so much doom and gloom, conversations with friends and family have adopted a certain refrain. When it all gets a bit much, someone will say 'Any good news?!' And we hope to rise to the challenge.

This week, then, I was cheered by a story on local tv about a husband and wife from Colchester who had succeeded in rowing the Atlantic together.

After three months and 3,000 miles they were very shaky on their feet as they stepped out of their boat. They had both lost a considerable amount of weight and didn't have much to say to their interviewer, but the scenes of jubilation as they reached land were wonderful. The relief and sense of achievement was palpable and the joy expressed through the flares and the cheers gave me goosebumps.

I wonder how an epic voyage like that changes you? For months on end your sole focus is survival, at the mercy of the elements, while witnessing the wonders of the natural world at close hand. 

A few weeks ago I interviewed marine scientist Hannah Rudd about her book exploring our own coastal waters. It was amazing to learn how they are no less awe-inspiring than the more exotic locations we associate with marine research, yet we take them for granted. She hopes that by telling us something of the extraordinary creatures to be found and also the eco-system on which we all rely so completely, we may be inspired to learn more and to be involved in helping preserve them for the future. It's an uplifting, enlightening and energising read and I urge you to take a look.

But finally, just a reminder that the end of the month is in sight so please let me know if you are thinking of coming along to book group on Monday 27 February. Scroll down for more details about this month's meeting. I hope I'll see you there.

Thank you for reading.