Yes – you read that right, I am about to reveal myself ….

A while ago my publishers sent me an enormously long list of impossible questions about myself that I was assured would assist you, the buying public, in deciding to part with hard-earned cash … I was not sure, but went for it – and then, recently, I found that these questions have been incorporated into a website … so here is the most egotistical of posts ….

But then I read through it, and was surprised by what I had written … some of the questions had required far too much thought … others generated answers with which I am quite pleased. So – just in case any of you are wondering what to do with the next 5 minutes – why not have a bash at re-writing them for me! Find ways that will make me more appealing … this could be like a Wiki exercise in crowd-sourced information … and if we make it good enough, well, there will be no stopping me … the world will be mine, all mine …. (exit with megalomaniac laughter still ringing)

Just back from the Bristol Festival of Nature and now preparing to go head-to-head with the wonderful Kate Long in a face-off between hedgehogs and water voles … who will win? Why not come and join the fun! Then it is off to Edinburgh with extInked to reveal my leg to the unwitting visitors to the Botanic Gardens.

The Bristol event was a lot of fun and a clear reminder that behind the impressive viewing figures for Springwatch and other BBC wildlife programmes there are real, active people who have a passion to learn more about the world around them.

Before my talk I was interviewed on the BIG SCREEN …. never before have I been so large!


You can just make me out in the top right hand corner!

But it was after my talk about The Beauty in the Beast that the real business began – and it was a salutary lesson. I got a good audience and they asked sensible questions, but when I settled down in the tent with the wonderful People’s Trust for Endangered Species crowds swarmed in …. the reason?










Simple – I was ‘with hedgehog‘ … the lesson learned for me is that however good a talk I give I can never compete with the thrill of meeting a real live hedgehog. This one, Holly, was being looked after by Mary from Hedgehog Rescue. I do not want to become a hedgehog carer, I simple do not have the capacity to manage that demanding job. And I do not want a ‘pet hedgehog’. But I also recognise that the amount of information I could impart to an audience would be enormously increased if I had grabbed their attention with a real live spiky hog …. so has anyone got a brilliant solution to this conundrum?

Nature vs nurture?

Before I had children I was rather convinced by the nurturing arguments – but that has been revealed to me as little more than the arrogance of youth! Yes, of course, there is some impact on the child in the way they are brought up – but it is not the whole story.

And how is that related to taxidermy?

Because the more I have got to know my biological mother the more I find out that we are linked in ways that could not have anything to do with nurture – she had just ten days to imprint her character on me … and I can hardly remember what happened ten days ago, let alone in my very first ten days on the planet!

I went to visit her last week and took, as requested, my stuffed hedgehog (about which I wrote a while ago) because she had someone who wanted to meet it …

For many many years her nickname has been ‘badger’ and when a friend found this stuffed one in a house clearance sale, well … it was irresistible. And I got to pose between an asymmetric intraguild predatory relationship …. which, when you have read The Beauty in the Beast, you will recognise as being related to a rather smutty joke.

So it is not a rigorous scientific survey – but over four decades apart and we both have a desire for stuffed British wildlife … along with a passion for music. And apparently I laugh like her father, but at the things her mother found funny. And much more besides. And now she wants a hedgehog too – so if anyone out there has a nice example of prickly taxidermy they want to be rid of, please drop me a line!