Oh dear! I often find the blogs of people I want to read (eg Valentino Rossi) start off well then dry up – er… just like me! Last blog was January – shameful..
Well, The biggest thing by far this year was the arrival of Pip on 26th Feb. She is a rescue dog and there hours of fun trying to work out what breeds of dog have gone into making her. Some collie, some Doberman / Alsatian?, a bit of terrier, she looks like a lurcher at speed – I cant imagine how such a parentage might come about? I would be telling an untruth if I was to say house training went smoothly – what a poo splattered nightmare! But we are almost there now I think. She is not the cleverest dog in the world, in fact the part of her head where the brain ought to go is actually filled up with the mechanism for extending and retracting her enormous tongue. I tried but I don’t think anyone can fully realize what a change having a dog brings to your life. I am incredibly lucky that a local dog trainer and dog lover/expert Jenny agreed to look after pip on filming days so Pip goes to stay with Jenny and her own 6 dogs every now and then – which is probably very good for her.
To celebrate I went to buy a bottle of wine, paid and slipped it onto one of these new biodegradable bags (a thoroughly good idea). Unfortunately the bag had started to biodegrade in quite a big way and the bottle of wine went straight through the bottom to smash all over the checkout floor – sooo embarrassing.
We went up to Mallory Park (my favourite race track) to watch a VMCC (vintage motorcycle club race day – they may be old bikes but they are not slow, fantastic racing. I got so inspired I went ahead and did something Ive been meaning to do for ages, set in motion the process of getting myself back to the track – its been – ooh around 20 years ? so there’s a chance I might be a touch rusty! I had to go up to London and beg the genius that is Richard Peckett (P and M motorcycles) to agree to prepare my racer for the track again. He’s just not interested in spending his precious time building bikes to race unless you are going to win… but after sharing a Chinese take away at his house he eventually agreed – so now I have to pull my finger out and actually do it. Scared, but excited.
Chris Packham and I went filming together for a series of “Boys days out” for Springwatch. The idea was we would do some of the things we did in our youth – badger watching, fossil hunting, pond dipping etc. It was brilliant, I had forgotten how much enjoyment can be had with a net a jam jar and a “boater”(boot full of freezing water). Chris had me in stitches as ever. It rained pretty much throughout the filming but when the team came up to my neck of the woods and we set out to film reptiles the sun agreed to come out for a short while. It was a remarkable day, driving our ancient Morris 1000
(our chosen “period” transport, my gran had one – I expect yours did too) across the Mendips I saw a slow worm sunning itself on the road – stopped and carefully put it in my pocket, we saw lots of adders at “velvet bottom” (where we used to go for the school picnic) Chris picked up a large grass snake (which pooed all over him to his delight) and I caught a verdant green common lizard – all in a few hours – wonderful
We went back to Ynys Hir for springwatch and very nearly got washed off air. It rained so hard over the week end (I had ridden home on the Harley to see the pip) the entire site was flooded, the main offices under a couple of feet of water and the current powerful enough to lift up trucks full of delicate electronics and move them bodily until they crashed into other trucks. A local building operation very kindly allowed us to move into their porta-cabins and the brilliant mini camera team got to work trying to connect up the nest cams to see if anyone had survived, which , remarkably, they had - and to our amazement, by Monday evening, we were back on air.
Ive never been to Orkney but was lucky enough to be sent up there to host our springwatch seabirds special.
Mine – thunderbird 3 is cosmetically challenged but runs beautifully. It was built in 1949. About a week after buying it I took it to the Isle of Man for the Manx grand prix where it was my only transport (brave!) and apart from bits dropping off in embarrassing places and the lights totally packing up it was brilliant. Started every time and went like a dream.
As I write I’m already up at “Aigas field centre” in Scotland preparing for this years Autumnwatch, I’ve already filmed hedgehogs and a story about the beavers on the river Tay (there are around 140 of them living wild). This year Autumnwatch its not the long drawn out affair its been over the last few years but a week-long “live” hit in autumn, followed by a second live week of Winterwatch. Chris is already here and Michaela arrives soon, all we need now are some animals”