What I Did on my Holidays and the Trials of an Ecologist’s Wife.

Nobody really wants to read about my holiday and how amazing it was, do they? Tough. After all the seriousness of last week’s post I’m drifting into levity and inconsequential fluff again. Don’t worry; I’ll keep it brief. Levity and brevity should probably be my blogging watchwords. It would make a change.

Mainly, I’m writing about this is to gloat. Well, OK, it’s to gloat and because I don’t have any better ideas this week. I thought it was exceedingly important that everyone knows that for the last week I’ve been loafing about here:


Yeah, that’s right, it’s a treehouse. Not just that. It’s a treehouse with a hot tub. Which is all fine and dandy until a hornet takes it upon himself to do periodical flybys, sending yours truly damply scurrying back inside with the screaming heebie jeebies. I’m not sure I can accurately estimate its size, but I would say it was at least as big as your average domesticated cat. With wings.


Bluebells in Ashton Wood: Picturesque. And blue.

One can’t spend all of one’s time jumping in and out of hot tubs avoiding oversized Vespidae though. It’s bad for one’s skin and one’s deportment, if nothing else. No matter, there were plenty of scenic villages to meander through, Bredon Hill to climb and Ashton Wood to explore.

It was in the latter that I discovered the largest badger sett I’ve ever seen. It put the ironworks on top of Bredon Hill to shame. Now, a word on my wife here (yes, I really am married): It takes a special kind of woman to nod tolerantly and say ‘oh, that’s nice’ when their lunatic husband yells from the undergrowth ‘Look at the size of this badger latrine!’

Considering her main interactions with nature through the week involved being menaced by an itinerant hornet and recoiling in horror at the mention of a tick on my leg (I lassoed it with a piece of cotton), I have to applaud her stoicism. Although she steadfastly refused to accompany me on a late night test of my shiny new bat detector (Soprano Pips, possible Natterer’s). Maybe next week I’ll write about the trials and tribulations of being bound by law to an ecologist.

So there you go, that was my holiday, interesting, wasn’t it? For now I have returned to the grim urban landscape of Stockwell, with its huge bus station that suspiciously thrums at ungodly hours. They’re building something that goes against man and nature in there, mark my words. Oh to live in a place where Red Kites soar whenever I turn my eyes skyward.


Green with Envy

A quick pop quiz for all you environmentalists out there. Tell me if any of the following is familiar:

I'm getting the most out of some of my stock images

I’m getting the most out of some of my stock images

You’re in the pub with a group of greeny type associates (of course you are, where else do environmentalists gather?) In turn, they each mention that they are; Working on a really cool project at the moment, thanks very much; Have just got their newt/pesticide/bat license; are starting their own niche company combining artisan beer and bushcraft or are about to jet out to the Amazon to study an obscure type of annelid worm. Do you:

a) Congratulate them and buy another round as a celebration, even though it’s not your turn.

b) Quickly make up something really great that you’ve been doing at work recently, when in reality you’ve been stuck in the office all week entering species data in excel.

c) Brood over your pint and secretly want to stab them in the eye while also being grudgingly happy for them.

OK, I’ll admit it, I put a) in as a bit of a laugh. But be honest, it’s c) isn’t it?

I’m not going to claim that this is something unique to environmentalists. It’s just that of course we tend to have differing value systems to many, so this jealousy is not generally of the ‘how much’ variety*. We tend to get jealous about the oddest things.

What’s this got to do with Conservation, you might ask? Where are the Adventures? Where’s this coming from (and where the hell is it going)? Well I tracked back my irritation this week to this post by a former volunteer chum of mine:CCpic

Now, I know that Facebook is just one giant, universal game of brag concocted by our Lizard overlords to keep us all distracted, but this was beyond the pail (pale?). This had gone past one-upmanship. This had effectively ‘won Facebook’ for me. How can you compete with this? My friend has essentially dropped into visit, told me all about her amazing project and left before I’ve had a chance to make something up about my life.

On top of this I get regular updates from two other former colleagues, lounging around in far-flung corners writing blogs of their own. I’m not sure Adventures in Conservation, with its tales of misanthropy and barely concealed contempt for its fellow man can compete with that from its concrete home in the grim urban environs of Stockwell.

It’s not just the readership, though. It’s the growing pool of experienced and qualified applicants and a diminishing well of opportunities and resources in the sector. You see, I didn’t just think of a good title and then decide to write any old nonsense after all – this was merely a ruse to make a point about the competitive nature of my field and how some of us get to do really cool stuff and the rest of us just sit at home writing about it. I don’t know, maybe you don’t suffer these pangs of envy. Maybe I’m just a self-centered git.

And yet…and yet given all this I’m still glad (through the gnawing jealousy) when an associate gets a great new job, starts an interesting project, gets some good publicity or, damn them, swans off to some far-fetched part of the globe to prance around in the jungle counting monkeys or some such.

Still, I’ve got my chainsaw license and I did chase Wallabies around the Isle of Man for a couple of months. I’ve got that to fall back on at least.

*As an aside, trust me on this, some people from other walks of life can get rather angry when you reject the value system they have imposed on themselves. Which amuses me no end.