My dad was a writer and a gardening expert. He loved the countryside with all its birds, beasts and bugs.
As a child, I gassed butterflies then pinned and dried them for display. I shot pigeons and, with my brothers, sent ferrets down rabbit holes to flush the poor creatures into our nets. Something Dad said back then has stuck with me. It must have been more than forty years ago. ‘You won’t want to do that when you’re older.’ He said.
Years later, I’m living in the same ancient cottage that dad discovered down a narrow lane in the West Sussex countryside and I smile to remember that his prediction came true.
I love living in the countryside and watching the seasons pass as different plants and animals play their part in the cycle.
One particular creature that has fascinated me for years is the bee.
I guess my interest started when my Mum became a bee-keeper. I was visiting the cottage one summer’s day when the bees were swarming. With just rubber gloves (only Mum had a beekeeping suit) and my jacket on back to front, we shook the zizzing swarm into a basket that was then tipped into an empty hive. Scary but exciting.
And now I am learning to be a bee-keeper myself. I watch my neighbour when he checks his hives and even helped in the summer when it was time to remove the frames and spin the honey out. I designed a label for the jars.
I’m not following Dad’s example. I don’t want children to kill butterflies and birds and rabbits in the hope that they will eventually see the error of their ways.
I want children to understand just how amazing our planet is and to wonder at the incredible variety of life that surrounds us — even something as ordinary and everyday as a bee.
Perhaps reading my Bee Boy books will encourage them.