I’d been wondering what to do with my old wellies and here was inspiration courtesy of the London Wetland Centre where all manner of unusual containers, including plastic milk bottles, had been cunningly planted up with herbs. The centre, which is an oasis of reed beds, lakes and lily ponds near Barnes, was founded by Sir Peter Scott, son of Antarctic explorer Captain Scott and a true polymath. As well as being a pioneer in the field of conservation, he was a respected broadcaster, talented painter, got an Olympic medal for sailing and was a champion ice skater. Basically he was an Expert in everything, much like our beloved DG.
Anyway, there is loads for wildlife-lovers to enjoy at the centre and, as you might expect, the place is brimming with birds. They also have the biggest bee box I have ever seen. I have two bee boxes on my allotment yet have only succeeded in attracting one bee. But I bet this deluxe bug hotel is fully booked every night.
Part of the centre is actually called the “wildside”, which means our tour guide Phil regularly gets to say: “And now…let’s take a walk on the wildside.” He never gets tired of it, apparently. I was building up to an “under the boardwalk” joke (we were on a board walkway over some water at the time) but was distracted by a spectacular Hawaiian goose. Hawaii is, of course, home of the ukulele but was nearly not home to the Hawaiian goose after horrid humans ate them to the verge of extinction.
While fowl, including many other types of geese and ducks, are the main attraction at the centre, I couldn’t help being drawn to the foliage including this lovely piece of planting featuring nasturtiums clambering up a willow obelisk.
However, the highlight of the day had to be meeting this slow worm. According to Phil, slow worms love to wolf down slugs and are a boon to gardeners. Given the chance, I would have popped this delightful creature into my pocket but Phil would not let me near it for fear it would become “agitated”.
Other slug-munchers on show included this fat marsh frog which was minding its own business when a bunch of us invaded its privacy by eye-balling it through a telescope.
And here is a rather good picture of a spider on its web.
During my visit I was tasked with testing out the photographic capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy S5. Like my idol Alan Titchmarsh, who recently announced he was to follow in Dan’s and my footsteps to go into musical comedy, I prefer to spend as much time away from screens and devices as possible but I did my best and once I had worked out how to use the focus function, managed to take some pretty decent photos, as you can see. But the wildlife fun did not stop there. When I got home there was another, much bigger spider lying in wait for me in the hall, which I snapped in all its furry-legged glory.
I am pleased with this photo. Although less pleased with the fact a giant spider has moved in.