- When I was young I had a really sweet tooth. Now I'd rather eat crisps. How does that happen?
- I have more or less given up on wine because it was giving me a headache. Now I drink one glass of gin instead but I am very particular about how it should be made. I can't see the point of a single measure of gin- all you taste is the tonic. A generous slosh of London gin, topped up with a lot of tonic, eight ice cubes at least and a squirt of lime concentrate. Perfic.
- I used to be a night owl and now I'd much rather be up bright and breezy with the sun and go to sleep early.
- I am getting better at liking spiders. This is a conscious effort. However, when one dangled unexpectedly in front of me while I was driving last week I came very close to crashing the car and running screaming down the road.
- I have recently grown my nails after a comment from a friend about why she keeps her nails long and painted.
- I managed to sartorially embarrass L for the first time last week by wearing walking boots with my shorts. He rolled his eyes and said normal people wore flip flops with shorts. I think the expression was 'fashion disaster'. Is this a sign of things to come? In another year will I have a fashion-conscious teenager on my hands who will flatly refuse to be seen out with me unless I'm in Armani? Needless to say I shall continue to wear my walking boots with my shorts because that is pretty much a uniform if you're a conservation ecologist :-)
- I value a sense of humour second only to kindness.
- My life would seriously lack something if Ted and Pops weren't in it. They are little rays of sunshine to me every single day. Even when (as has just happened) Poppy sneezes on my foot.
- I have this year discovered a love of water voles which I rather suspect will last my entire life.
- Although I am quite a solitary soul, good friends are very important to me and I am blessed to count among them seven inspiring women. All are very different but all are good, wise, kind, funny, decent, caring and can be phoned at two in the morning in case of emergency. They are also prepared to don cocktail dresses, high heels and fluorescent pink feather boas and walk through the middle of the City of Bath to celebrate their friend's hen party, and then to take a freezing-cold open-top bus tour round the city the follwing day while nursing monster hangovers, for which I have photographic evidence :-)
- All the members of my maternal family have a pale streak of hair that runs along the left side of our heads. We call it the 'Aitken Badger Streak.' In me it is currently blond, but one day I hope it goes silver.
1.Which activities can make you lose track of time?
This will come as no surprise I am sure, but watching and photographing butterflies absorbs VAST amounts of my time in summer. During the winter it's writing- when I'm working on a book eight hours can whiz by in the blink of an eye.
2.Who is the funniest person you know?
My son, L, who has me in stitches most of the time. We have always used humour as a way to get through sticky moments and we find it in the same things. He has always been the Family Jester and is completely unconcerned about making a fool of himself as long as it makes people laugh. He almost always sees the funny side of any situation and when he's in a grump about something I can usually bring him out of it by making him laugh. His friends rely on him to cheer them up when they are feeling sad. It's a gift and I am very proud of him for using it well.
3. What small act of kindness were you shown that you will never forget?
My husband is the kindest person I know. He is always kind. He is kind in the face of other people's rudeness or cynicism, he is kind regardless of how tired/ stressed/ concerned/ preoccupied he is feeling. He always sees the good in other people and will put himself out to help others. I try very hard to be more like him but I am given to being irritated by people when I consider they are being stupid/ thoughtless/ annoying.
4. What can you do today that you couldn't do last year?
I can stand in a wood, listen to the birds singing and know what some of them are without seeing them (I am trying to get better at this). I can watch a butterfly in flight and tell which one it is without always needing to see it land. I can look at a river and know whether or not there are likely to be water voles living along it. I know where Purple Emperors are to be found and I now know what Maidenhair Spleenwort is. I can also run three miles without falling over in a heap at the end and requiring medical attention to get up again.
5. Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Tess of the D'Urbervilles. When she bumped off Alec I cheered. When Angel walked up the hill out of Winchester without her I cried.
6. Name three things that have made you smile this week?
1. Poppy running about like a mad thing sporting her new hair do and looking like a sheep who's been shorn by an incompetent shepherd.
2. L chirping cheerfully and unexpectedly late at night about the Ben Fogle book M was reading to send me to sleep, and waking me up in the process.
3. This picture, which ma sent me:
7. What is your favourite sound?
I'm a bit of a sucker for heavy rain falling outside or pattering against the window pain at night when you're tucked up safe and warm and dry in bed with the duvet curled around you. I also like listening to swallows chattering as they twist and turn through the sky overhead (as they are doing alot at present); owl's hooting (the baby tawnys here are familiarising themselves with their voices at the moment- they sound like rusty saws scraping across metal!); and song thrushes singing (although they've stopped in recent days). The strangest sound I heard recently was the Nightjars whirring over at ma's. She lives by a newly-restored heath in the New Forest and the male nightjars sing all night long during June/ July. They make the most unusual noise, like rolling your rs constantly at high volume, although it's nothing to the three burps and a whistle that the male woodcocks do when they are flying about looking for lady woodcocks to court!
To deviate slightly from the question, my fav smell at the moment is the Nicotiana scent that washes over the house at dusk. Heavenly.
8. If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be and why?
When I was studying history at uni many moons ago I came across King Alfred The Great's eldest daughter Aethelflaed who lived in the 9th Century. She was quite a girl. She was lettered and learned, and when her elderly husband the King Of Mercia was too ill to lead his men into battle against the Vikings, she hopped on a horse and did it for him. That's my kind of woman.
9. What did you want to be when you grew up?
For Quite Some Time I knew I was going to be an International Show Jumper. When my parents failed to embrace that certainty with the same degree of unbridled joy I decided to be a vet instead. I was sure about that for years and years, even doing work experience at two different practices when I was 14.
The vets at the first one thought it would be highly amusing if I were the one to hold the pot for an ejaculating ram. I braved it out. I also braved out the moment at the second practice when one of our hamsters clamped his teeth on the soft skin between my thumb and forefinger and bit right through it. The poor thing was having an injection which obviously hurt. I was tempted (in the midst of this excruciating pain) to swing him about in the air like a lasso in an attempt to dislodge him but I don't think it would have worked. As it was I screamed silently inside, prized his little jaws apart and went off to faint in the loo.
I cried when a dog was brought in to be put to sleep because no-one wanted it. I am still a bit haunted by not saying yes when the vet asked if anyone at the practice could take her. I also found it incredibly hard when a litter of days-old puppies were brought in to have their tails docked and their dew-claws removed. They still had their eyes closed and their mewling when this was done to them was unbearable, as was the frantic calling of their mother in the room next door. The vet told me grimly afterward that he absolutely abhorred the practice but had had pups brought in with terrible infections because someone had done it at home with scissors.
I believed I'd be a vet right up until the reality of having to study sciences at A Level hit me, and then I decided I would be something else instead. A historian or a writer, or a herbalist. And now of course I am studying science at degree level instead. How does that work?
10. What do you see when you close your eyes?
That depends on what I've been looking at during the day :-)
11. Who was your favourite band or singer when you were sixteen?
D'you know, I don't really remember being sixteen. I remember being between nine and eleven and being certain that Adam from Adam And The Ants would one day marry me. My first record was 'do you really want to hurt me?' by Culture Club. swiftly followed by 'there must be an angel' by The Eurythmics.
Thanks Leanne, I quite enjoyed that. Hope it's answered your questions :-)
Have a good day all. I am off to recce some bat surveying sites in preparation for the water-surveys I have to do in August, and tomorrow I am going water vole seeking. Happy Days....