Hedgehogs are everywhere!

Hedgehogs are getting everywhere – if only it was beyond the pages of papers and magazines. There has been a veritable flurry of hedgehoggery – that has kept me, and the teams at the BHPS and the PTES, very busy for the past couple of weeks.

The news that sparked all the attention was the disturbing data from two long-running surveys that revealed a fall in numbers of hedgehogs considerably in excess of what we had previously thought.

While Mammals on Roads showed a 32% decline in the last ten years, the long-running Living with Mammals survey indicated a decline of 37% between 2003 and 2012. The declines are not uniform across the country, with a spread of between 3% and 5% disappearing each and every year. Continue reading

Festivals

I used to enjoy festivals for the mud, music and madness – but as I have aged so my energies have declined (refined) and I find my preference shift. While I look back very fondly to hazy Glastonbury or the delights of  travelling to Womad by boat from Oxford with a crowd of friends (when it was in Reading), neither is as easy with a small family. Now we go to Wood (soon, wonderful – and featuring not just me on hedgehogs, but also our film – Nonviolence for a Change – recently updated for the Quakers) and Buddhafield (quite simply the best – alcohol and drug free – the perfect play space for interested children).

The last couple of years we have supplemented this by me being invited to talk at Camp Bestival – but that is not a festival I would ever pay to attend. The kids adored it, and riding high on the big wheel, their faces were filled with glee (as ours were with terror) … but it is big, commercial, expensive and crowded.

Also for the last couple of years Zoe has been asked to work with Greenpeace at Glastonbury – and I have been only moderately jealous … okay, that is not entirely true … the idea of spending a week at Glastonbury without the children … that does sound like fun.

But this year it is a little different. Wood and Buddhafield are booked in, but I have been asked to join the exalted company of the Idler’s Academy as they spread deep thoughts through the open minds of gently inebriated participants.

I wrote an essay for The Idler a while back – a marvellous thing that Tom Hodgkinson and Gavin Pretor-Pinney have done for the world, creating this space for ideas to marinate and percolate. I argued, most persuasively I like to think, that the importance of the hedgehog is often under-rated, as is the importance of love. And when you put the two of them together, you have a perfect storm of passion that can help change the world.

And now I have to distil this further for the academy – I have been thinking about basing my lecture on ‘My Quest for Normality’ – weaving my love affair with hedgehogs and my desire to get to China in and out of a pursuit of hedgehog-extremists … as I try and prove that I am, comparatively, normal. Hope it works … if you want to see whether it does, I will be at:

Port Eliot Festival, 21-24th July in Cornwall

Wilderness Festival, 12-14th August in Oxfordshire

West Dean Festival, 26-29th August in West Sussex