When the news has seemed relentlessly grim in the past few months, the events of last week have been novel and, dare I say it, uplifting. Change in both the White House and Number 10, and growing confidence in an imminent vaccine have at least given us something different to talk about. 

We need to find hope, happiness and reassurance where we can in these difficult times. I find I'm seeking out upbeat television, radio and online events - and books -  to help boost my mood.

I was pleased to see this reflected in a short feature in the 'Guardian' this weekend where novelist Amanda Craig listed 'Books to bring cheer' (I'm not able to find a link to share, so let me know if you'd like more details!).

Of course she mentioned PG Wodehouse, but also Eva Ibbotson and Frances Hodgson Burnett who are best known for their books for children.

She highlighted, too, the solace to be found in nature writing.

Although the weather has taken a turn for the worse this weekend, there is still so much to appreciate in the outdoors.

In 'Vesper Flights', the author Helen Macdonald shares her passion for birds, and urges us to look up to the skies. The lifecycle of swifts is certainly awe-inspiring. They will fly constantly for two or three years, only sleeping when they ascend on a 'vesper flight' recorded as being a height of 10,000 feet.

What we can learn from swifts and other astonishing birds, mammals and plants is densely packed in a beautifully rich collection of essays. Scroll down for more details about this wonderful book, or read my article about Helen and her first book 'H is for Hawk' here.

Another fabulous nature writer is Melissa Harrison. You may remember we discussed Melissa's first novel 'Clay' at Browsers Book Group several years ago, and gave it considerable praise. More recently, she has received great acclaim for 'All Among the Barley' set in an imagined 1930s Suffolk.

Melissa also writes nature columns in various newspapers and magazines. A compilation of her writing for 'The Times' forms 'The Stubborn Light of Things', her beautiful new book, delighting in nature through the months and seasons in both the city and countryside.

Melissa will be talking to me about this new book in a special event for The Cut in Halesworth on Wednesday 2 December. Taking place online (of course), donations are invited for your ticketed attendance, with all funds raised used to support this glorious Suffolk arts centre.