Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Feeling good

Well today, Spring really did arrive. Temperatures rose to the dizzy heights of 12 degrees, there was warm sunshine and little wind - it was great to be out.

I made a brief visit to the reserve at lunch time, mainly to give Nana my Beagle a short walk. She's into her 15th year now and can't manage a long run anymore, can't even walk fast! She has spent her whole life running the reserve and knows every short cut, every plank across the ditches, every best rabbit field, but struggles to get to them anymore, that's sad and I'm beginning to know how she feels.

Of the reserve? well everything was pretty much the same as it was on Sunday - it just looked better in the warmth, but I did see my first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year, fluttering weakly over some newly emerged Stinging Nettles. And, perhaps its just me, but such a lovely day makes you think backwards into fond memories and I for some reason got thinking about Enid Blyton.

As a devotee of hers and when I first retired, I went onto E-Bay and gradually purchased all twenty-one of her Famous Five novels, complete with dust jackets. Even at 62 years of age, reading the Famous Five for me is pure nostalgia, good and innocent days, pure childhood, nature and everything that went with it. And as a result of those purchases, I became aware of the illustrator of all her books, one Eileen Soper, not only a superb illustrator but a true naturalist herself, who with her sister, lived together in a house in Hertfordshire for most of their lives. It wasn't really until after their death and a search through their dilapidated house with its huge and overgrown garden turned over to wildlife, that Eileen's true and secret life was exposed and written up in the excellent book - "Wildlings" by Duff Hart-Davis. She is perhaps more widely known for her study and drawings of Badgers in her book ""When Badgers Wake" and the follow-up book "Wild Encounters".
Eileen Soper was a true and talented naturalist of the early 20th Century kind and I encourage you to read her books.


  1. Very interesting Derek, and I'll certainly be seeking out Duff Hart-Davis' book.

  2. Thanks Nicola,
    It is a truly lovely book to read, charting her life and full of beautiful paintings of wildlife.
    I would imagine that you could get it through Amazon or E-Bay.