“I love trees and spring flowers and old fences covered with creepers. I love watching geese fly home at sunset and listening to the birds that sing and chatter in my garden. I love robins and foxes and badgers and mongooses. I listen out for porcupines at night and the owls calling to one another from neighbours’ rooftops. I love the ocean breeze, the silence of an ancient woodland, bluebells in spring, snowdrops in winter, a river tumbling over mossy rocks, foxes calling on a moonlit night. I love waking up each day knowing that the delicate magic of life stretches before me…”
I have always been drawn to wild landscapes and the creatures that live alongside us. Growing up in Cape Town, my childhood was infused with everyday connections to the natural world, from wading knee-deep in mountain streams to exploring the wild desolate beaches along the Atlantic coastline. My memories touch on magical encounters with owls and oystercatchers, caracal and timid mongoose, fierce southeasters and the pungent smells of otter scat.
In more recent years, I have been drawn to Wordsworth’s pastoral England and spend time each year immersed in the rural landscapes of Devon and the Cotswolds.
“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher…”
I truly believe that living a simple life, connected to the land, mindful of our material impacts, walking that extra mile to purchase organic, upcycle, reuse and recycle, adds a significant depth to one’s life that resonates with the knowledge that we are living in harmony with the wider living world around us.
As I watch the little birds going about their lives in my garden, I marvel at the lightness of their touch, how little they impact on the world, and how, through the gaiety of their song and gentle being, they bring light and joy into our own lives.
My life-long interest in urban wildlife led me to launch my Wild Neighbours programme in 2010, which was enabled through the incredible support of urban wildlife specialist Dr John Hadidian of the Humane Society in the United States. I was so proud when Wild Neighbours became a Wild Cities Champion – https://wildcities.org/get-connected/champions
As a nature consultant, I create inspirational materials that explore our complex, ever-changing relationship with the natural world, with a particular emphasis on the small creatures that call our towns and cities home.
I am married to sculptor and cetacean specialist Noel Ashton.