Eighteen months ago I got my second (and last) tattoo – for the less squeamish of you there is even a video! It was the culmination of my book, The Beauty in the Beast. It was also the culmination of my midlife crisis – which included not just two tattoos (no prizes for guessing the first), but also my first (and last) attempt at stand-up comedy and also my first (and last) dance class.

Clearly my attempt to restrict my midlife crisis failed and I have been dancing to the sweaty excess of the 5Rhythms ever since.

Now some might find it strange to think that there is much overlap between the wonder of the toad – that featured so prominently in my book – and dancing. But there is and there continues to be, if last night is anything to go by. My toad ambassador was the delightful Gordon Maclellan aka Creeping Toad – and who could not love someone who has ‘Hoorah for the small and wriggly’ as the title of their latest blog post!

Gordon took me dancing – shamanic dancing – in an attempt to help me find my inner toad. The experience was not quite as I would have liked it – I had made a number of crucial mistakes (like forgetting to check whether we were dancing inside or out … it was as crisp a January as the High Peaks have had) and it left me with just one moment of revelation – that it is rather tricky to dance into a transcendent state whilst wearing tweed.

However, the more I talked with Gordon, the more appealing the toad became – the mysterious world of transformations and hidden jewels being just a part of it. So the animal was high in my mind as I cycled back from a 5Rhythms class around two years ago – and found myself nose-to-nose with a gorgeous toad. This helped stimulate my toad-love – and lead to the tattoo.

A lot has happened since then Рthe book has fled into the wild (rehabilitated?) Рand now the paperback is about to storm into my (and your) life (complete with a foreword by the wonderfully generous Brian May). And I am still dancing Рlast night was one of the most exhausting two hours I have had Рphysically and emotionally draining and energising at the same time (thank you Dean). The class came at a good time, after a period of feeling almost disenchanted from that world, I was thrown right back into the maelstrom of moving bodies. So I was grinning to myself as I cycled home Рand came across an obstacle to my progress.

And it dawned on me that it was that time of year again … and possibly because of the inclemency of recent weeks, it was all happening in a rush. As this guardian was clearly in place to ensure no unseemly interruptions to the fun happening cycle-path … because after stopping for a chat with him I came across this interesting combination.

I feel it justifies a caption … ideas please!

One of the reasons I warmed so much to toads was their attitude – not skittish, they turn to face an intruder with a quiet confidence born of 450 million years of evolution (largely passing it by). Like the hedgehog, they have been hammered by humanity – and are affected by many of the same problems. So this is the real reason for the post – now is the time of year when Gordon and his like travel everywhere with a bucket with which to help transport amorous toads across the roads – please pay attention when driving or cycling – if you see a toad in the road, have a look around, there may be many others. And they may be desperately trying to breach out barrier and make it to the water to help continue their presence in our lives. If you are not able to get out and about to help, make contact with Froglife – which, despite its name, is really quite accommodating to toads too – and see what else you can do to help.

Toads are wonderful creatures – help them as much as you can. Not just carrying them across the road, but in the way you manage your garden … because there is great magic in these animals … ask any child!

 

 

 

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