Well it seems that it’s time for me to dust off the thermals, the fleece lined boots, the goretex coat, the woolly hat and the gloves!! They’ve spent rather a lot of time in the cupboard since Countryfile days. My recent filming has been in slightly warmer climes or during the balmy British Summers, but from Oct I’ll be back out in the cold!! I’m stepping in for Kate Humble and doing Autumnwatch! Yes I’ll be filming again in the Great British countryside freezing my butt off and I can’t wait!!
Not only am I looking forward to getting back into the wilds of Britain but I’m also really looking forward to being part of the Autumnwatch team and working with the BBC NHU production crew, Martin Hughes-Games and especially Chris Packham. For those of you over the age of 30, you may remember that Chris and I worked together on the Really Wild Show, around 20 years ago!! Yes we were much younger then and far less worldly wise!! We did however have rather dodgy fashion sense, but hey it was the early 90s! I joined the show in 1992, Chris was this good looking, incredibly knowledgeable, opinionated, left of center young man with plenty of attitude (not much changed there then!) I presumed he would find this 20 something bubbly blonde presenter from Saturday morning telly, with far too much energy and cheerfulness, rather irritating, especially as he came across as a rather tortured soul at the time. But amazingly, we hit it off! We formed an instant friendship that has lasted over the years. We have travelled round the world together and had many incredible experiences. From Mauritius to Arizona to Canada to Namibia to Ecuador Chris has made me laugh, has taught me loads and we’ve shared many memories and a few bottles of wine!
I remember doing a special for the RWS in canada on Beavers and about Grey Owl, a so called Native American Indian, who actually came from Hastings and whose real name was Archibald Belaney, who helped to save the beavers diminishing numbers. It was a really interesting story but Chris, Howie Watkins (the 3rd presenter) and myself found it hilarious that we were doing a special on beavers. Oh yes all the boyzie jokes were there and the phrase ‘nice beaver’ seemed to come up far more regularly than necessary to endless stifled giggles. When Chris had to perform with a wet beaver between his legs our immature humour was really quite pathetic!! Hopefully we’ve grown up a bit since then!! Actually they did quite a bit on this years Springwatch about the reintroduction of beavers into Scotland and I didn’t see Chris snigger once!
So, working with Chris again is going to be such a pleasure and no doubt for a lot of viewers, a bit nostalgic. As long as we’ve matured from finding the word beaver so hysterically funny!!
So what is it about Autumn that I love? Well I just adore the autumn colours. Anyone who came to my Bristol house before I moved can vouch for that. The whole place was painted in rich oranges, reds, greens and purples. Those rich russet colours just make me feel warm and cosy and quite romantic. In fact that is what I love about autumn. It’s romantic. Spring might be when all the animals are twitterpating (a word that was used in Bambi), but Autumn is when it gets romantically dramatic. It’s when the red deer do an early pantomime routine to attract their females. They don’t eat, they flex their muscles, they rut, they bellow, they show off and perform in a wonderful spectacle. The salmon use all their strength and power to swim upstream against the current, risking life and limb to keep their species going, it’s all so desperately romantic. I think the males of our species should look and learn. I mean I feel grateful for a bunch of flowers once a year! What we should have is more rutting, bellowing, fighting against the current and a general show of passion and commitment.
Talking of romance, I reckon I should get those thermals out now, the woolly socks, the long sleeve T shirt, the fleece, the waterproof, the wellie boots, the scarf, the gloves and the hat because it’s time for Autumn!
(this piece is based on an article written for Countryfile Magazine, Nov 2011)