anne diamond on communing with nature and politicians!
PUBLISHED: 17:09 14 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:09 20 February 2013
I've been communing with nature since I last wrote. Not hugging trees exactly, nor sleeping out under the stars.
I've been communing with nature since I last wrote. Not hugging trees exactly, nor sleeping out under the stars. I don't know whether it's just a case of spring being in the air, or those temporarily empty, silent Berkshire skies thanks to the Icelandic volcano) giving me inspiration, or an instinctive reaction against a month of introverted political talk. But I've been crawling around on all fours in my garden, laying turf, planting wild flowers and building a back-to-nature bird table.
As a journalist and broadcaster, I always enjoy elections - it's the one time we ordinary folk really ARE the boss of those Honourable Members, and the challenge is always there to get them to speak bluntly. Highlights for me? Starring in the election video (that's still on YouTube) put together by political bloggers and writers at TotalPolitics - encouraging people to get out and vote. I was alongside Buck's Fizz, Ann Widdecombe, Nigel Farage (hope hes on the mend) and even Alastair Campbell! Then it was fun to go along to the polling station with two of my sons who were first-time voters. It made me feel very proud and just a bit ancient. Oh yes, and Edwina Currie told me (on BBC Radio Berkshire) that she confessed her affair with John Major effectively to hurt him, Tony Benn told me the greatest orator he'd ever heard was Churchill, and Paddy Ashdown admitted he'd have given his eye-teeth to be Nick Clegg in that leaders debate. So yes, I love elections. But I also love to get away from all of it, too and talk of other things!
And so I found myself in the garden, leaning back in a chair, contemplating those blissful skies without the slightest trace of a vapour trail, and listening to birdsong. I was inspired by chatting to the RSPB'sSophie McCallum about the MayDayDawn Chorus Walk at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham, where early risers could listen to the overwhelming sound of Berkshire's birds welcoming the dawn. No, I didn't quite manage to get myself and two teenagers up in time for it. Next year, maybe. But it still inspired me to think - well, how's about attracting more birds into my own garden? When I saw the tackiness and price of commercial bird tables, I resolved to make my own - out of drift wood, fallen branches, old trees that I see lying around as I do my regular commute through Berkshire every day going to work at the BBC. But is it legal to simply pick up bits of wood? There's so much of it about, but who does it belong to? (And it's heavy too, as I discovered when I tried to do a bit of wood rustling!)
In the end, coward that I am, I paid a quick visit to a saw mill near Caversham, paid 3 for a few branches and some slices of wood from a mystified man in dungarees, and drove my home to build something unique. I've even decorated it with home-made copper ivy, (taught myself how to use a soldering iron!) which I hope will turn green in time and add extra artistic value. The result? A whole family of robins, lots of great tits, green chaffinches, a baby blackbird twice the size of its mother, and even a blue-crested woodpecker. Oh yes, and several greedy squirrels. Those beautiful Berkshire skies may have filled up again with noisy planes, and I know that's important for local jobs and trade, but now I have created a noisy dawn chorus of my own, right outside my bedroom window!