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Dennis to Alice

Two powerful storms choke a normally peaceful river with logs and manmade debris yet, despite the chaos and the COVID 19 pandemic, nature finds a way of fighting back. A pair of geese take up residence on the river where they raise a family of goslings and battle to defend their home from predators and kayakers attempting to remove the fallen trees. Can they survive a turbulent year in the wild?

“A touching, personal look at the natural world’s response to a moment of environmental chaos.”


Author George S Boughton takes an up close and personal look at nature’s response to an environmental crisis. In February 2020 storm Dennis lashed the United Kingdom with powerful gale force winds and above average volumes of rainfall, leaving many parts of the country cut off and severely flooded. Sections of the normally placid River Wey, which flows past his house, were choked with fallen trees and bags of plastic waste washed up in the torrent. Local residents stepped in to clear the debris although their clean-up efforts were dealt a setback when a month later the government put the country into lockdown because of COVID 19.

For the majority of people, lockdown was and still is a major inconvenience, yet for Boughton it presented a rare opportunity to see how the natural world pushed back against a rare meteorological event. From his window he watched two wild geese, nicknamed Alice and Arthur, build a nest on the river from the scattered storm debris and how a handful of months after their arrival, filled it with a cluster of white, speckled eggs. While Alice incubated her unhatched brood, Arthur protectively circled the river to ward off potential dangers including marauding squirrels, a territorial swan, and an extremely persistent fox! 

Three weeks after they were laid the eggs hatched, unloosening a huddle of fluffy golden-haired goslings. Taking their cue from their parents, the youngsters splashed into the river and followed them towards a future in somewhere. Was Boughton even vaguely saddened at their departure? Not in the least. Humans may be prone to sentimentality but in the animal kingdom it doesn’t register! 

Dennis to Alice is a delightful book that captures nature’s simplicity while marvelling at its ability to regenerate in the face of a disaster. The narrative is unfussy, with a semi-documentary tone that exhorts the reader to stand back from the emotion of the pandemic to embrace nature in its entirety without the overhang of pollution, noise interference, or planes streaking across the skies. It’s a simple, forceful message and one that Boughton’s neighbours took to heart especially the kayak owners, who frequently rowed across the river to enjoy its flora and fauna.

Dennis may have gone but the damage it caused and the avian family who used it to their advantage, is dutifully recorded in a series of film clips accessible via the QR codes in every chapter.

£1 of each hardback and eBook sale will be donated to the wildlife charity Noah’s Ark Foundation. A twelve-part series about the Foundation and its ground-breaking work in building the world’s first technologically advanced safari park for saving endangered species, is currently airing on Sky TV. For more information go to: or

Juliette Foster