OR, HOW DID A GIRL FROM HOUNSLOW END UP AS A NATURE GUIDE?
I grew up in West London, under the Heathrow flight path – about as far away from nature as you could get. On a school trip to the Wiltshire countryside I was so miserable that I cried into my lunchbox. A teenage interest in stone circles first tempted me to venture into the great outdoors again. I started a bit of rambling and I even braved a camping trip. Emboldened, I joined the university hiking society. Still clueless, however, I showed up to climb Snowdon in jeans and old trainers. So, you can see that a love of nature did not come naturally to me.
But, for some reason, I kept going back. The turning point for me was when I realised that there was much to be learned from listening to the land. I took up landscape photography and did a course in animal communication. These taught me much about being quiet and still. I grew to love birds, trees and wild places. I began to be at my happiest out on the land.
I love the sense of peace and aliveness, wonder and beauty that I experience in nature and I began to dream of being able to share that with others. So I trained as a Shinrin Yoku practitioner and started Wildsong Walks. I still don’t know the names of many birds or trees. My plant, rock and insect identification skills are even worse. But, if you would like to spend an hour with me in the woods, we may just discover something else we would struggle to name. Something all the better for being unnamable.