Monday, 14 June 2010

Busy but enjoyable....

Where on earth does the time go. This time last week I was impersonating a crane and here I am 7 days later and full of busy.

Last weekend was extremely good fun. On Friday night we were recording an "in front of a live audience" down at the Bristol Festival of Nature, the premise being "Biodiversity, the trouble with the word". It was an excellent evening had by all and you can hear the results for the evening tomorrow morning at 11am on Radio 4 or play it again on the BBC i-player here.

That's the commercial break over. Back to the personal stuff. After the event Julie, (who'd come to see this recording), and I pootled back home and sat outside with a bag of chips, some fizzy wine and relaxed the garden on a warm night, while watching bats dive bombing moths over our heads. At one point a fox began to cry too in the fields behind, such an eery sound, but all of this made the perfect end to a busy evening.

Saturday morning though we were both up at the crack of dawn as I'd volunteered to help at the BBC stand at the Festival of Nature, above, in the morning. This photo was taken just before the doors opened and it was the last time the floor was seen for 2 days such was the popularity of the event. People love coming to the BBC tent as we try and allow them access to cameras and so on. I didn't play much part in this event this year other than standing about like a lemon in an official tee shirt and pretending I knew what I was talking about. No that's not me.

Lunchtime came, that was enough for me and so we headed back home and my house martins. When I bought this house in December there was an old martin nest on the apex of the roof. Last week was the first time I'd noticed the nest was occupied, and by Saturday morning, plaintiff cheeping could be heard continuously. I love the fact that my house, just 16 years old, is home to sparrows, starlings and now house martins. I think bats too, as they swoop from the direction of the roof when they first fly in the evening. At the back of the house is a field frequented by foxes and between the field and the house a selection of shrubs which are awash with smaller birds. Yesterday afternoon a female sparrowhawk tried to pick a few of these off, but failed.

But back to Saturday. After a rest, at 5pm we drove to Lyme Regis. I never tire of this place and a stroll along the beach and the Cobb was wonderful. The light was staggering and made the artistic side of me want to stop and stare for a long time.

However we had another aim. Eggardon Hill. Maybe I shouldn't advertise this place, as it is very special to me, as somewhere I've come to for nearly 30 years, and I want to keep it that way. My place and quiet. It has a spiritual quality to it I can't explain. But up there anything seems possible and I'm on top of the world. I was last here for Julie's birthday in March (she was with me) and then we had a sense of something around us as we sat on the hill in the moonlight. I sensed years ago someone standing behind me, but of course there wasn't anyone there when I turned around. But who knows what is going on. Ley lines also cross the fort, which being a fort must have seen many human activities good or bad.

There were however a lot of things around us on Saturday. More tangible things. A herd of frisky bullocks. A conundrum then, we had a picnic. If we sat on the hill fort with the picnic would the bullocks pinch our sarnies? Or worse still, wine. It was too much so we sat just on the other side of the fence and watched the sun set while the night enveloped us both eventually. it's quite something to just sit in the countryside while the sun sets and the moon rises. A lot of noises change from day to night sounds. It's fascinating. But even at 10pm, the skylarks were still singing, 15 minutes after this photo below was taken. Nature doesn't stop for light.

I like this place very much. And on a June evening with not a soul about and then walking back to the car in almost total darkness, with just enough light to pick out pale moths rising from the cow parsley, it was a truly magical experience.

And that finally brings me to a few lines which have inspired me for as long as I can remember, because it is experiencing nature, the countryside and the soul of the environment which has driven me for years. And places like Lyme Regis, Eggardon Hill, Lindisfarne, the Coquet Valley and a whole host of British landscapes are places I'm drawn to time and time again.

The author BB used these few lines taken from a gravestone in the Lake District in the front of all his books. Nothing I've ever read before or since, captures what nature, the profound sense of well being I get while experiencing nature, truly experiencing it, quietly, on my own, or with someone who also understands. So I recommend we all read these words and remember them next time we are in the countryside as we pass by, but once....

The wonder of the world
The beauty and the power,
The shapes of things,
Their colours, lights and shades,
These I saw.
Look ye also while life lasts.


  1. I'm agreeing with you about Eggardon Hill, very special. I am a bit puzzled by BBC's Countryfile asking people to send in their 'Special places', they won't be special anymore if half of Britain goes to see it! Your weekend sounds great, my husband cannot sit in one place for more than 2 minutes to enjoy places, he can't stop moving! I just stay put now until he has a walk then comes back!

  2. I agree Goosey, every bit of media is doing this now - and as you say, the more people who go the busier it'll become..... maybe I should remove the name from my blog......

  3. Hi Andrew, It's great to catch up with you again and delve into your back posts! Eggardon Hill sounds wonderful. I only said the other day that there seems to be a concerted push towards getting people interested in Nature and the countryside, it sounds dreadfully selfish but I would rather keep it to myself thank you :) Many times we have visited a Nature reserve and on entering the parking area I have bemoaned the fact that there are other people there, oh dear maybe I am a misanthrope!!

    I love the last photo and the lines by BB.