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Nature/nurture

I’m sitting outside my room in a nice hotel somewhere in Hampshire (or to be less James Bond about it, Winchester). The baby – my charge for the evening – is sort of asleep just the other side of the door. I’m enjoying the last of the sunshine, I have a glass of wine, things are about as good as they can be. (See how the optimism is working? I could have said ‘as good as they can be, given the cancellation of We Need Answers’ or ‘were I not still shitting myself about ticket sales’ or ‘but there is still death to worry about’. And indeed, those thoughts are there, but I choose not to embrace them. Just about. Result!)

A feature of this hotel is a kind of outdoor walkway connecting the rooms, which is lined with all sorts of fauna. From where I’m sitting I can see some of those, you know, purple flowers, with – what’s it called – a bee sniffing around for pollen or whatever the hell it is they do. On the wall is some, I don’t think it’s ivy, but some sort of crawly plant. Then in the fl0werbeds in front of me are some lovely – er well, pink ones; a kind of bush with some sort of pale blue stuff on it, some brighter blue ones coming out of a tree, and looming above this pastoral scene is a group of… hmm, sort of skinny trees a bit like weeping willows but more compressed, and even over them, a tree with sort of darkish red leaves.

That’s right – I’m shit at anything to do with nature. I don’t know the name of anything that grows. I have no appreciation of flowers or trees. I love the idea that trees are sometimes hundreds of years old and saw things like the French Civil War unfold and are still with us, but I can hardly tell a monkey-puzzle from a, you know, sapling. (The only tree I can confidently ‘tag’ is a cedar, because I used to live on a street where one grew.)

When I’m in a pleasant spot like this, I naturally enjoy the peace, the birdsong, and so on, but I have a hard time really getting all happy about the beauties of nature like a lot of people do. When I’m reading a description in a book of a splendid rural scene I normally start to switch off. When I had to plough through a lot of Wordsworth at university, I really got sick of him banging on about communion with Nature. I feel there’s something missing in my appreciation of the world around me.

Even when I do find myself really savouring a splendid view, it’s normally from the safe vantage point of, say, a train (the climb through the Lake District towards the Scottish border, for example, or for that matter the East Coast as you approach Berwick). I just don’t seem to be an outdoorsy person. But that’s fine – I like a good walk, I’m in good physical shape, I have no desire to be one of these folks who rise at 6am – though I sometimes have to do that anyway – and have walked eighteen miles by lunch, and come back wiping mud off their trousers and talking about how you’ve missed ‘the best bit of the day’. I just wonder if I’m missing a trick somewhere.

Cities are what really thrill me. For me driving into New York all lit up at night, or walking along the Yarra in Melbourne with the cheery spectacle of the town rising on all sides around me, or even the familiar aspect of London seen from Westminster Bridge (as, to be fair, Wordsworth pointed out) is my equivalent of seeing a waterfall or something. I’ve been known to squeak with excitement when flying low over a city and seeing it all spread out below, its millions and millions of tiny lights pulsing with life.  (Less creditably, I’ve been known to get petulant when people insist on having the window shut even though I want to gawp at Russia, and will sometimes mutter things like ‘what’s the point of HAVING a fucking window seat.’) My favourite paintings are things like L.S. Lowry where you see the great sprawl of humanity against an urban backdrop. If I see a great big tower I normally start making plans to go up it. Whereas if someone shows me a lovely load of roses in their back garden – much as I do like roses, and we had them at our wedding and blah blah blah – a part of my brain will be going ‘why have you grown these? You could be playing cricket on this space.’

Since the novel began to take over from poetry as the popular form, and urban living became the dominant way of life in our country, many writers have done justice to the strange magnificence of cities, so I feel in good company admitting that I like them, with all their dirt and danger and so on. But it would be a good plan for me to develop my relationship with ‘the natural world’ a bit further. So if anyone has any pointers to help me enjoy stuff like flowers, let me have them. And a prize for whoever can come closest to identifying the lifeforms around me, based on my descriptions above. Of course, I’ll have no way of knowing if you’re right, but be as convincing as you can.

Keep applications coming for yesterday’s jobs (deadline is end of tomorrow). There are more for the Very Late Review so far; not that many for the TYSICs. And also keep suggesting things to stop Chris wasting his life (see Monday’s blog). And to clear up a couple of questions from recent blogs:

Radio 4 show – yes there could well be another series next year, but in the meantime, there might also just possibly be a Christmas special. Maybe.

Juice – my favourite, quite simply, is a freshly squeezed orange juice. But genuinely freshly squeezed, by one of those machines. And with all the bits of orange included. I know people have died over the ‘peel/no peel’ debate. But I’ve said my piece and there it is.

The convention of being allowed to nominate a topic for the next blog has worked quite well, but it does encourage people to jump in just for the sake of it. So I’ll modify the system and say anyone can ask any question in a Comment and I will eventually deal with it (unless it seems like it would be better suited to the Can I Help You? feature) (or it is upsetting for me to talk about). I started doing this on the Fans’ Forum but let it slide. So there we are. You can grill me. See you tomorrow. I’ll be writing it on the way to Ashford, Kent, for a gig. Or right before the gig. Or on the way home. Or I might have trained the baby up to write my blog by then.

UPDATE: yes, I meant the hotel walkway is lined with ‘flora’ of course. ‘Fauna’ are animals aren’t they? Ah well.

45 Responses

  1. Helen says:

    1st comment?

  2. Well, that’s just the perfect blog for today. I’ve finished all of my exams – Summer, has officially started. Pass me a bed, pillow and blanket and I’ll sleep June away.

    But as I write this trivial comment my window is open in my bedroom, and I can hear the birds singing. I live in the country (about 5 minutes from Limerick city in Ireland) so there’s a big ole green and brown mountain staring back at me when I look out my window.

    I’m no good with identifying nature though. Of course, I know a fox from a tree, but certain plants? I’m useless. haha.

    No question from me today. Just a comment. Enjoying my first few hours of complete and utter freedom from studying, essays and learning Irish poetry – oh the joys.

    Right, I better go study.. no… wait!! I can stay!! But, well I’ve written all I’ve wanted to write so well,
    buh bye! :P

  3. Helen says:

    yay!!! I said I would one day and here is the day. I know you have now changed the system but to be honest I’m just really happy I made it. I would like to know about what happens backstage at big gigs like the 02 one for great ormand street. I always wonder, does everyone get along and have a good old chat? Or is everyone so nervous they just keep quiet? Or is it really awkward? Sorry, this question has plagued my mind for years, and I’ll never know from experience so I wish to ask you please.

    I much prefer the buzz of the city, I find the country a bit dull and lonely. Although today I did watch a caterpillar for a good ten minutes, just moving about on a leaf. Very good blog as always.

  4. Steph says:

    I like the pulp too :)

    Russia! When I go to Hong Kong I love looking over Mongolia. It’s freaking beautiful. No civilisation whatsoever and there are these colossal looking snow capped mountains. Pretty breathtaking.

    Cities trump the natural landscape for me too usually. There was one exception when I was in Dartmouth, Devon and it all came together; steam train, boats, rowers, ice-cream/sweet shop and a hill full of houses on the opposite bank. But other than that give me the wonky Millennium bridge any day, where you can look ahead to St. Paul’s then left to the London Eye and right to Canary Wharf. At night it was even better having been to see Macbeth at the globe.
    Woah! Some good memories. Rant over.

  5. Rosanna says:

    Yay! Ashford, Kent for a gig!! Excited now :D
    I like city and country. London is an amazing city but my favourite green bits are there too. I would suggest lying in Regent’s Park (or another one – they’re all good) on a nice day. That’s good for taking in the world :).

  6. I think if you renamed the baby Mark then it would be fine for it to do most of the blogging. As for the whole outsidey thing, I can’t say I agree with you. To me, the ideal thing to be in front of my eyes is a mountain or a lake or some sort of forest. One of my favourite things in life was sitting on a rock on a Scottish beach in front of a Loch reading some rubbishy crime book that came with the holiday home.

    But that’s not too say I don’t also love cities. I do, I really do. And they can both be as relaxing and as exciting as each other.

    Can I also just tell you once again how awesome I would be at comment sorting for VLR, I wouldn’t mind doing the TYSIC either if you don’t get anyone else.

  7. DeborahF says:

    I hate cities (sorry Mark). I was born and bred in the country – my Grandad was a gamekeeper and my Uncle a shepherd (I even have his crook). Therefore I have learnt loads about wildlife as grew up and spend every spare hour in the garden or walking around the Peak District. My friends suggest I need to marry a farmer so if there are any randomly reading this blog get in touch :)

    So to your surroundings – the purple flowers if shaped like a pompom are probably alliums (a member of the onion family). I’d say the climber is either a clematis or perhaps a Virginia creeper. The bush with blue flowers probably a ceanothus (see-an-o-this). The red leaved tree will be an acer japonica. So is there a prize for this? ;)

  8. hornseygirl says:

    Winchester sounds lovely.

    When I was little, I discovered a ‘Book of British Birds’ (of the feathered variety) lying about the house. I spent many a happy hour leafing through it and looking at the pictures. I have avoided ‘twitcher’ tendencies, but I must admit I do enjoy recognising our feathered friends even today. So, I’ll advocate appreciation through knowledge and suggest you find a book of birds, mammals or similar. Does that sound a bit too geeky?

    I would be interested to know what impression New Zealand made on you, even though you say you’re not the outdoors etc. type?

  9. Rachael says:

    I thought of a question earlier today for in case I’m ever first so now I get to use it anyway, Thanks!
    Where do you stand on finding out the sex of the baby before it is born? Did you already know that Kit was a boy? what were your reasons for finding out or not?
    I’m not really sure why I want to know, I just think it’s interesting.

  10. Sam says:

    I love the countryside, I like walking through woods, staring out over a lake, just lying on a hill side.
    However whilst I love nature etc I hate living there so much.
    I grew up in a rural town and until recently have always lived there, and the nature is all well and good but sometimes I want to be able to see people, or go to a gig, visit a museum, go out for dinner somewhere nice, not be surrounded by farms with their noises and smells.
    I feel like it should be that in their twenties people should live in the big cities, then when they have kids move a bit out, to the suburbs, or outskirts. Then when the kids leave home you can move to the country when you don’t tend to go out so much and you have time to sit and appreciate the nature.
    Those are my thoughts which I really shouldn’t have spent time typing as I have an essay to do which if I don’t finish tonight I get kicked out of uni.

  11. elin says:

    You put an interesting picture in my head with the hotel being lined with fauna! I’ll try not to let my imagination run away with me…

  12. Emmy says:

    I love the countryside and want to live there desperately. Preferably in a small cottage near Eskdale with three dogs, two cats, lots of chickens, and a motorcycle. And making my living as a hillwalking guide/novelist. This will probably never happen, but there we go. I can dream.

    London is pretty good for now. I like it, but need to get out of it at least once a month so I don’t go mad. It is nice to have stuff to do (by which I mean shows and what not) and easily available job opportunities, stuff that would be harder to find in such a small area in a country setting although having never lived there I can’t really say.

    But yes, as for how to appreciate the countryside, I guess the best way is with people you like. A massively long walk with people that make you laugh is one of the best things in life I think, as well as some nice sandwiches and a flask of tea at lunchtime. And a pub afterwards. :) Like most places, the countryside is probably best appreciated while laughing.

    On that note, let’s put this out there because I’m feeling a bit batty: if there are any London (or thereabouts) based hillwalking nuts who are looking for someone to ramble with, maybe we could start a TYSIC walking group?

  13. lisa brunders says:

    You can enjoy nature without knowing all the names. But I know what you mean, I do like to know what things are called.
    I walked round a local park the other weekend and they had little plaques on all the trees telling you what variety they were! I wasn’t sure it was appropriate somehow, but I appreciated it!
    I’m growing seeds this year, first time for many years and I’m really loving it, maybe you could try that.
    I used to love cities much more than countryside, and still do really, but have more of an appreciation of nature as I get older, maybe you will too.

  14. First, please indulge me in a tiny bit of pedantry: surely ‘fauna’ means animal kingdom stuff – what y think you were referring to was the ‘flora’ – the plants.

    Your enjoyment of rural bits may never increase, but with any luck the pleasure of parks, woodland, fields, streams, muddy puddles etc will be something you will get to experience with your son once he’s big enough. Tipping over a rotting log and examining all the mini-bugs underneath, picking up long earth worms or spiders, and looking at them with a magnifying glass; helping him to make a daisy chain for mummy (or daddy, for that matter), blowing the fluff off a dandelion to find out the time, or putting a buttercup under your chin to see if you get a yellow glow reflected up onto your chin – which means you like butter; or getting a big fat crayon and some paper and doing bark or leaf rubbings; building huts by piling branches against a tree; jumping in a muddy puddle with wellies on – just for the fun of it; taking a net and going pond dipping, or hunting for crabs together in the rock-pools at the beach. Not to mention building sandcastles together, or long intricate networks of canals in the sand….

    Scavenger hunts and spotter books are a good way to tune in to nature, in a child-like way. I thoroughly recommend the whole series of michelin spotter books – take your pick of flowers, trees, mini-beasts, butterflies etc.

    And if you see a flower or something you like, just take a quick photo of it, and then (especially with all your twitter followers) you should be able to find out what it is later.

  15. Sorry – didn’t notice your update before posting my comment. Doh! Apologies for that bit.

  16. Aislinn says:

    I like bugs and creepy-crawlies and watching little green insects crawl along my jacket sleeve, but I’m not one for flowers and trees so much.

    On another entirely unrelated note:
    I didn’t realise We Need Answers had been cancelled. Sorry for the harsh language, but: I fucking LOVED that show! It was genuinely one of my favourite television programmes of 2009/10.

    If it makes it any easier to cope with/less of an impact on your optimism, I think probably I love it so much it cancels out all the people that don’t like it and decided to cancel it. And even then I like it a little bit more than that.

  17. Misha says:

    Although arguably there might be fauna in the flora? ;) (or bees and shit for the layman)

    At a guess I’d say the climing thing might be a clematis? My grandma is a keen gardener. Honestly I have no idea, but we’re growing a sweet pea, some sun flowers and two mini tomato plants this year, and i’m getting great joy out of watching them get bigger. I reckon that’s the joy in growing roses etc, watching something go from bare earth to a whole plant is pretty awesome, like raising a child but faster. I have to admit I don’t get as excited by long hikes etc.

    I think I’m inbetween, I get equally excited by big cities and wide open spaces, and if I can find an excuse to kick off my shoes and watch the world go by I will. I realise I’m digressing. I think the secret to enjoying the countryside is the same as enjoying a city. Take that awe of people and buildings and project it onto trees and ants. Isn’t it amazing how old and tall that tree is? Isn’t it so cool that there are hundreds of ants in that line and birds fluttering about in the same space doing something else entirely.

    I’ve been int he garden all day, you can possible tell from this comment.

  18. h2osarah says:

    So wait, you have some kind of yard, correct? Do you just have grass all around it? I grew up in a house that grows lots of flowers and vegetables. It’s a lot of work, but flowers are pretty, and vegetables are a source of entertainment (and food).
    It’s nice to watch your tomatoes/potatoes/pumpkins/zucchinis/basil/parsley/dill/carrots/peas/squash/beans/onions/pumpkins grow throughout the year. Yes my family grows all of those. Yes our yard is 80% gardens. No we’re not farmers. Especially when Kit gets older, pumpkins are pretty cool. You plant the seeds in the spring, and that’s pretty much it. By Hallowe’en, pumpkins! I still remember going through the garden with my dad looking for the first little pumpkins on the vines, then watching them grow. Flowers are much less exciting for me anyways. Yes they’re very pretty, but they’re not worth the work. Other people can have pretty gardens. Maybe get some flowering bushes for your garden. Low maintenance and pretty?

  19. @BexQuillerdrive says:

    sounds like a plant me grandma used to have call Buddleja

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddleja

  20. Rachel Winter says:

    Oh yes definitely the ‘scary cliff’ bit just before Alnwick.
    After which you get to think ‘wooh we’re all still alive’!

    I enjoy watching things like River Cottage, but I know I could never live in the countryside, would go out of my mind with boredom – cities definitely better.

  21. Anji says:

    I’m an inbetweener too. I like both country and city, and know far too little about both.
    My Mum has an amazing knowledge on lots and I love to listen to her explain things, I just don’t retain a lot and then end up with little bits.
    Since having my own house I have taken a pride in the gardens and having pretty things to grow, naming them isn’t a sting point but I hope I’ll learn!
    Taking the dog for walks means I am now seeing more and putting some facts into use. You’ll learn it all Mark, knowing amazing facts is part of being a parent!

  22. Gareth says:

    I find the news of We Need Answers enormously disappointing, but in the spirit of communal optimism may I offer some consolation? The insanity exhibited by the BBC’s powers that be in continuing to commission all manner of dross while neglecting shamefully the demographic of (presumably mostly young) people with more than two brain cells to rub together induces all kinds of anger in me, especially given the comparatively minimal financial outlay required to make this particular programme, but then I look back at your blog post from 2008 saying excitedly that a full run of We Need Answers had been commissioned, and I thought, well, what if it hadn’t been? It may not seem like much consolation in the face of this setback, but I feel so grateful that this joyously irreverent programme has infected my consciousness at all, and all that comes with it (my brothers and I play No More Women frequently). Maybe We Need Answers will thrive as a live and untelevised show. In any case, no matter how bleak its cancellation may seem, a performer with as much talent (and enterprise) as you will continue to find outlets for expression, whatever they turn out to be. But thank you for We Need Answers. And I’m looking forward to Eleven.

  23. Madeleine says:

    Sounds like a lovel spot, glad you’re enjoying a bit of down time. Although I am ridiculously scared of bees (it’s how they move), so that bit sounds terrible. I actually do quite a bit of camping (I’m getting a certificate in Outdoor Education) but am also rubbish at nature. And in Autralia, although we do have heaps of the stuff, it all kind of looks the same. “Gum tree, different type of gum tree, poisonous berry, HOLY FUCK A SNAKE!” and so on.
    I am a total city person as well, I love really late at night/ early morning and I quite like to just go for night time walks to look at things and feel the atmosphere. There’s a cafe near me thats open till 3am ans serves vegan chocolate cake (like normal chocolate cake, except without the chocolate or anything resembling cake), I doubt you get that in the country.

  24. Lydia says:

    I’m not really a lover of cities, all those people rushing about far too close to each other, even the thought of it makes my breathing go funny. That’s one of the reasons we moved from Manchester to Cumbria but after yesterdays fiasco,it seems I might just be better staying at home,blinds closed, doors locked,possibly hidden under a blanket.

    My youngest son has gone to bed hating, really hating nature. He actually uttered “I wish all this stuff didn’t exsist” whilst dramaticly gesturing towards a large area of greenery, (He was chasing the dogs through long grass and fell in a bunch of nettles- ouchy.)

    I’m terribly disappointed about We Need Answers being no more :( they really are just knocking good stuff off our screens and replacing it with more and more crap.

    As you can see, I’m not an optimistic being.

  25. Kathryn says:

    I feel like I wasted my first-comments, my brain is full of maths this week and I couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t feel that bombarding you with questions about Poisson distribution would be a good idea.

    I’m not a huge fan of the countryside, which is a pity because in Ireland it’s all countryside with a few towns scattered about the place. I did a Duke of Edinburgh expedition two years ago and spending three days camping and walking around the middle of nowhere in the rain was not fun. Whereas spending time in a city, even a small one like Belfast, feels exciting, like you’re in a place where things are happening. There’s a certain atmosphere about the place, although it may be all in my imagination.

    I can empathise with the Wordsworth thing- I made the mistake of deciding to talk about Romantic poets in a university interview. Lots of ploughing through Keats and then trying to justify an interest in Nature.

  26. Linsey says:

    I was really upset about Weeny Dancers, there’s not a lot of programmes that you could genuinely feel the chemistry and friendship between the presenters. Me, my mum and my dad all used to watch it together, and after about two weeks of practise my mum can actually play No More Women. Quite a feat.
    Truely saddening to see yet another example of the BBC choosing quantity of viewers over quality of programming.
    Hope the groundswell of appreciation will show that the programme was actually loved by the people who matter (everyone that watched it) and hopefully I’ll see it live one year if I get my act/money together to get up to Edinburgh.

  27. Chris says:

    Being from the country I can confirm that there aren’t just caterpillars and trees and other things that must be identified out here. The only way I could identify a Cedar tree is if it had been cut up and turned into a guitar like mine. It’s a tree. The point is the countryside is a place for living in, not just looking at (See works by David Matless for further reading on countryside and landscapes, see I’m not wasting my life I do work Mark, see! Actual uni work! With a book! Suggestions still welcome though plans seem to be coming together well on that front). Cities are great but people go to Centre Parcs for a reason.

    There are also pubs and places to mountain bike down out ‘ere. There’s cultural and social events in much the same way as in a city, you just have to make sure you don’t get burned to death in a giant wicker man each year. And of course the good old country pub.

    And as for Weeny Dancers, I actually cited the show as an example of the kind of thing the BBC should be supporting when 6music was being axed. The BBC hates me it seems. This is personal. Hopefully there’s still time to save both. Action must be taken! Don’t forget my mission for the summer has yet to be finalised…

  28. I could write an essay but won’t – well, not tonight anyway. I’m a country girl, and I love to look at and enjoy creation, but I tend to take it for granted (hence one TYSIC is to appreciate it more). It’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve started to take any interest in the names of plants; I would say I have a moderate amount of knowledge now, but still I have a long way to go.

    The only reasons cities hold any sort of enjoyment for me is that they are a total novelty, and trains. (Though whenever I go to London for the day I come back with a splitting headache; it’s a sacrifice worth making for the tube!) I also like seeing the lights at night, especially from a hill or something, but I think that’s probably because they verge on resembling the stars (which is a truly awe-inspiring part of creation that makes me go giddy with wonder – a great advantage of living in the countryside is that there is so much less light pollution so one can appreciate the stars much more).

    Okay, I think that’s probably the essay written then. Oops. In that case, my final point: one of the best ways to enjoy the countryside is to go on a long and varied walk (i.e. not just through fields or just through forests, but through various facets of the countryside) with family or friends – or to cycle leisurely. The suggestion previously mentioned of a picnic is an excellent bonus too.

  29. amycool says:

    I have the opposite problem. I have been trying to learn to appreciate cities recently. I’ve always had difficulty being surrounded by people, especially moving ones, and especially especially moving ones coming towards me. I also hate noise and air pollution. But on a recent trip to Manchester we took the back way (away from the Arndale centre and the people selling bubble machines) and I realised that Manchester is full of beautiful architecture. I felt the same way as you do about plants though, not knowing anything at all about architecture and styles and years. I think knowing the history of a city makes it a lot more enjoyable.

    As for the plants you saw, I also thought acer for the tree with the darkish red leaves. If there’s something climbing and it’s not ivy, it’s highly likely to be a clematis. Bright blue flowers coming out of a tree is a bit of a mystery to me. Perhaps they have grown a Morning Glory up it? That sounds terribly rude. Pink flowers in flower beds are probably petunias or pansies. I used to know lots of plant names when I had a garden and watched Gardener’s World and had a subscription to a gardening magazine, but it’s all fading.

    In summary, I like knowing things but I prefer knowing things in peaceful surroundings.

  30. glamlovinkitty says:

    I’ve recently moved from a flat in the inner city to a house with a garden a couple of miles outside of the city. I absolutely love the city, don’t get me wrong. But having a garden and being able to plant things and watch them grow is just awesome.

    It’s incredibly satisfying to look around your garden and see things grow because you put them there. My garden was completely neglected by its previous owners so everything that’s growing there is down to me. It’s so rewarding. And I’m learning so much.

    I’ve always adored animals and birds so it’s also really rewarding to grow things that entice creatures to visit you. We have a gang of ducks that appear most evenings to sunbathe on the front garden. And a nightly fox visitor. From my sofa I’ve been able to watch birds come to the feeders and teach their young how to use them. Incredible.

    Mark, you can love nature without compromising your love of the city. I do. In fact loving both makes you appreciate each all the more. Being able to watch wild creatures go about their creaturey business is such a massive privilege.

  31. glamlovinkitty says:

    Oh and also, on the subject of WNA – how thoroughly disappointing. More so in the light of a trailer I saw last night for a new BBC3 ‘comedy’ show which seemed to me to be a load of chavs being chavvy. How gash. If I want to see that I just need to walk to the nearest chip shop or bus shelter. I expect my comedy to be a bit more thoughtful.

  32. Sue says:

    All you need to know is what a stinging nettle looks like and what a doc leaf looks like. Then, when he’s older you can say to Kit, “Don’t touch that, it’ll sting.” Then when he goes ahead and touches it anyway, you get a doc leaf and rub it better. Kit will think you know everything there is to know about flora and you will be his hero.

  33. Corey says:

    How can they not continue with We Need Answers?. Thats mental!. One of the funniest gameshows there is/was…..forget that, the only funny game show thats not really a game show. As someone else said, it is so they can fill our screens with more crap??.

    A idea I had was to start a show called ‘Britain’s Got Tarrant’. Every week someone kidnaps Chris Tarrant and the studio guests have to work out who took him based on the clues left behind, then if they get him realeased on time before the deadline, they get to keep the ransom demand for themselves!?!

  34. Chris says:

    Haha! that’s an great idea from Corey!

    I can just imagine the studio guest detectives writing a cheque for the ransom, hading it over then snatching it away saying “but we don’t want to give you that!”

    Also the ‘nature’ you’re describing here (rose gardens, nicely planted trees) is every bit as man made and constructed as the city of you live in. Want real nature? There’s plenty of far out places in pristine all natural condition that are every bit as amazing as the tallest tower or the biggest city.

    Also I don’t ‘do’ poetry at all maybe this has some kind of affect.

  35. Corey says:

    Must apologise for spelling mistake, it should have said **released** not **realeased**!. Don’t know what that means!!

  36. Laura says:

    I far prefer being in the country to the city. Cities are dirty and smelly and I always feel like I need to have a good wash if I spend any time there. I think it is also partly to do with the fact I don’t like being surrounded by lots of people.

    I love lazing around watching the bees and the birds, and far prefer going on holidays where I don’t have to step foot in a city. The only exception to this is Wellington, where I would happily move tomorrow.

  37. Simone says:

    I’m really sorry to hear that WNA will no longer be gracing my telly box; bollo!

    I like viewing nature as a whole, but just one glance and i’m done. I don’t understand why people photograph flowers?!

    I miss seeing blackboys (which are now called “bush beauties” of “grass trees”), wattle and other native Australian plants while living in London.

  38. I can tell you what Chris should be. A spy, or an adulterer or anything like that.

  39. Shouldn’t, sorry, that said shouldn’t

  40. Chris says:

    I guess I didn’t get the James Bond job for a reason…

  41. Heather says:

    I’m glad to see someone else makes the same mistake I do with flora and fauna. If I hear them together I can remember which is which, but if I hear ‘fauna’ on its own my brain initially provides the definition of “flowers”.

  42. Heather says:

    Also, gutted to hear about We Need Answers! Not that I’ve seen more than one full episode (if I had the power of teleportation, I’d probably use this awesome ability to routinely take myself to Britain to watch telly) but the one episode I’ve seen and the clips of it on youtube are hilarious!

  43. Clembear says:

    I like cities and countryside – remember British countryside is very different to for example Australian countryside where everything is poisonous or a crocodile in disguise. So there’s a huge amount to see really – when Kit’s a bit older, you can go look at some awesome natural wonders of the world.

    I really appreciated the British countryside from a plane when it looks lovely, and like a chessboard from Through the Looking Glass. And Gerard Manley Hopkins poetry. And from being taken on many, many walks.

  44. Shell says:

    I’m just the opposite Mark! I’ll always be more interested in Wildlife or Landscape pictures than Urban. When I studied Geography I loved Physical Geography and avoided Human Geography as far as possible, not least because the field trips were more interesting/fun. One notable exception was a whole module in my degree called ‘Berlin’ for which I got to go to Berlin with other interested students and ‘study it’ at all hours of the day and night before writing what felt likea book on it! The assignment was dull to do but the ‘fieldwork’ sure as hell wasn’t! Brilliant and crazy city. The wall hadn’t been down that many years either (yes! I’m THAT old although I was a ‘mature student’). This is not to say I am disinterested in politics, human geography etc – rather that I did not see the need to study it as it was all around me.

    Maybe the time you’ll get into ‘nature’ is, as I think Sarah suggests, when teaching Kit. Once he’s older his curiosity and wonder will be a joy (and occasionally a persistent irritation :-) just remember to breathe). I’ve loved trips to the beach or countryside with my goddaughters and looking for wildlife and explaining what’s around is a lovely thing to be able to do. It hasn’t come down to my degree level Geography and Environmental Science yet just fun descriptions and explanations. Although my oldest goddaughter now needs ‘O’ level answers at times – she’s 10!

    The thing is it is not so important to be able to name all the plants etc but rather to be able to talk about why they are special/interesting. Simple stuff: this tree drops it’s leaves in autumn, this is a seed and grows into a… the bee pollinates the flowers and is very important, the birds build nests, the limpets cannot be moved, (unless you know the trick) sea water is salty, seaweed is a bit creepy (that’s just a personal thought I’ve managed never to share with a small person…but it is! particularly Kelp)

    Maybe a TYSIC challenge at some point in the next decade will be a TYSIC ‘outing’ where those of us that are rather nature obsessed ‘share’ our interest with those less enamored and vice versa.

  45. Knox says:

    Back to catching up!

    I love nature-y type stuff, even though I know bugger all about what anything is. I get a bit embarrassed when my niece wants specific answers. But always a good chance to look stuff up together, and just make up random stuff (‘dandy lions roar’ – fact!).

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