The Beauty in the Beast is now most definitely launched – but things keep happening to stop me getting back to work! I am about to head up to BBC Oxford to be a guest on the Jo Thoenes show … wonder if I will get away with any rude jokes this time?

Then, on Sunday, my first real outing with THE NEW TALK … I did a rehearsal at my launch event last Saturday which went really well and thanks to the creative and delicately framed feedback, I am happy to make some substantial changes. But Sunday, the 13th May, is the first festival, the Swindon Festival of Literature. I did a show on this day of the festival a few years ago – the Children and Families open day – and it was great fun. The venue, Lower Shaw Farm, is worth a visit, even without the presence of me and my stories of gentle eccentricities of my fellow wildlife lovers. Read More →

The helpful folk at WordPress – who host this blog – have sent me a summary of the stats for last year. And for a beginner in this world, I am quite pleased … they appear below. But before I get there I want to reveal something that the stats-keepers have also been collecting. And that is the search terms that people put into Google et al – and then end up arriving at my site. I would be interested to know which you think are the most unlikely – and also the most impressive … here are some of my favourites (editorials in brackets):

  1. contrary between swallow and sparrow in ancient egypt (I am just copying what is there … if you can understand how this got to me, please share)
  2. where do hedgehogs originate
  3. the cute storybook with hedgehogs in the bottom of each page
  4. punk beijing china hedgehog
  5. gothic hedgehog tattoos
  6. natural looking dog paw prints tattoo with shading (dogs???)
  7. hedgehogs chewing on leather
  8. dead sparrow
  9. new book about opera (well that one should be obvious …)
  10. unsocialised lemur (how did this end up with me???)
  11. stephen fry (this was the second most popular search – and I am guessing there are some disappointed people out there … )
  12. osborne thieving bastard
  13. ben fogle tattoo (I am not sure if this was someone looking for a tattoo of Ben, of just to see if he had a tattoo … it had better be a hedgehog if he does! And how did it get used 23 times?)
  14. hedgehog jokes (nearly twice as many people searched for this as they did for hedgehog hugh … there might be a message in that)
  15. hedgehog taxidermy ebay (I guess that one is not too hard to explain – but interesting that I am not alone)
  16. slug slime feet
  17. hedgehog marijuana (have I even mentioned marijuana? And what is hedgehog marijuana anyway … I would be happy to experiment)
  18. parasitology jokes
  19. fat eating capitalist cats
  20. flagelist (help me on this please …)
  21. hedgehog hugh!! (I love that someone has searched for me with exclamation marks!)
  22. prodded poppies
  23. scared of 5 rhythms
  24. greenpeace hedgehogs
  25. how much is a hedgehog worth (they are priceless … and that is enough of this … here follow the year in stats)

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 45 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 64 posts. There were 41 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 93mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 12th with 314 views. The most popular post that day was countryfile and empathy.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for hedgehog jokes, stephen fry, hedgehog feet, hedgehog hugh, and hedgehog tattoos.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


countryfile and empathy April 2010


How much is a hedgehog worth? February 2010


Stuff about me … November 2008


hedgehog feet April 2010


Why the exotic pet trade is wrong and undercover investigations are so important January 2010

I have just met a team straight out of the Crime Scenes Investigator series that is begging to be made – CSI Hedgehog.

How did that hedgehog die?

For most of us, the only sight we get of a dead hedgehog is flat on the road. The staple of many jokes …

Why did the hedgehog cross the road? To see its flat mate.

Why did the hedgehog cross the road? To show he had guts.

Why did the hedgehog cross the road, jump up and down in a muddy puddle and return to the same side? Because it was a dirty double crossing hedgehog.

Already we have been learning so much thanks to these sacrifices to our need for speed – it is one of the most reliable techniques for assessing presence and absence of hedgehogs in an area. And when repeated, year after year, as it is with the Mammals on Roads project run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, it can give us an idea of how populations of hedgehogs are fluctuating. It does not tell us how many there are, but it does tell us if they are increasing or decreasing, as there has yet to be any evidence of hedgehogs learning to avoid cars.

But now there is another way in which unfortunate corpses can assist our understanding of the wonderful world of the hedgehog.

The team of Crime Scenes Investigators will be on hand to undertake meticulous studies of the insides of hedgehogs that have been found dead in people’s gardens. These animals will be a ‘silent witness’ to the environment in which they lived. The experts, Katie Conville, Becki Lawson along with team leader Andrew Cunningham, from the Zoological Society of London, will try and work out not just what killed the animal, but also what sub-lethal effects were at play.

Parasitology, virology and bacteriology will all help to uncover the infectious diseases that have left the hedgehogs ill at ease. And they will also, when there is evidence to warrant, investigate what manmade chemicals might be lurking, undermining the health of our slug-munching friends.

This is not just about the fate of individual hedgehogs – there is also the potential to uncover what has been causing the decline in hedgehog numbers around the UK. This sort of work has already uncovered the cause of the mass mortality of greenfinches, as well as uncover the truth behind frog deaths and cetacean strandings.

But, as ever, there is an issue of money – so if anyone is reading this and feels particularly flush, drop a line to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (or remember them in your will) – and maybe we can have our very own CSI hedgehog!!