BLOG TOUR: CHARLOTTE LO

Good morning!

It’s my stop on the We Made a Movie blog tour by the brilliant Charlotte Lo today, and Charlotte is here to talk to us about nature and looking after the world we live in. I think this is such an important, and timely topic, and Charlotte’s blog post is just wonderful!

We Made A Movie

When Luna’s family won an island, their dreams came true – Luna opened a donkey sanctuary, her sister flew a plane, and her brother won a sheep pageant. But Luna’s new donkey has a mortal fear of beaches, her mum’s goat-yoga business is on the rocks, and her brother is weirder than ever! Luna’s got a brilliant plan to solve her family’s problems – it’s time to enter the movie-making business…

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The World on my Doorstep

One of the main themes of We Made a Movie is the importance of sharing our communities with nature, and protecting the wildlife on our doorstep. It’s inspired by proposals for a massive housing development in a village near to me. The fields there are home to deer, field mice, pheasants, and countless other animals and insects. I often visit and wonder where all the wildlife will go once their home becomes ours. The idea of it makes me feel a little powerless, which I suppose is why I wrote this book.

Thinking about environmental issues can feel scary at times, and the task of fixing them too big. But while working on the book I realised small ways I could help my own patch of the planet, andprotect the wildlife on my doorstep. And perhaps if we each do that, the task of helping the planet gets a bit more manageable, and a bit less frightening.

When I moved into my house a few years ago, I was somewhat shocked to find hundreds of bees blanketing my garden lawn. After talking to the neighbours, I learnt they were Ashy Mining bees – small, fluffy, black and white bees, that pop out of holes for a few weeks a year, lounge around on my flower pots, and disappear again. They’re solitary bees, so they don’t live in hives, but rather little burrows. Although I was slightly concerned about my son barrelling through them in his slippers, we soon came to love them. They signal the start of spring, and now whenever they emerge we simply try not to step on them, while they weave around our legs but otherwise ignore us.

The sight of so many bees thriving in a slightly unkempt garden, in the middle of a too-big town, made me want to encourage more insects into my space. So I stopped mowing the edges of the lawn, and as if by magic grasshoppers appeared. I planted different types of flowers for different types of insects – buddleia for the butterflies, foxgloves for the bumble bees (which have surprising long tongues, so prefer tubular shaped flowers), cosmos for honey bees, and ivy for the Ivy mining bees that also live in my lawn.

According to the British Bee Keepers Association, bees fly the equivalent of 2.2 times around the world to produce one pound of honey, so I do try to keep them well fed! I also (controversially) leave pockets of ragwort around for cinnabar caterpillars, then spend forever weeding it out from every corner of the garden.

Something else I’m trying hard to encourage into my outdoor spaces are more birds. When I participated in the Big Garden Birdwatch earlier this year, there was a lot of counting pigeons and crows, and not much else. Something I’d never really considered was that different birds like different types of food. Robins like crushed peanuts (whole nuts can be a choking hazard), blue tits like mealworms, and goldfinches like niger seeds. Putting out a greater variety of seeds has helped encourage more of the smaller birds into my garden, and I am pleased about this for not entirely unselfish reasons.

I have an allotment, so am usually found embattled with slugs. They eat almost everything, and with a surprising amount to stealth. If you can tell me how a large slug can get into the centre of a potato without an obvious entry point I’d be most obliged. It’s tempting to chuck down a load of organic slug bait and be done with it, but there is a major problem with that. The ecosystem exists on a tightrope. If I get rid of all the slugs, there’s less food for the birds, which means less birds (despite my extensive seed buffet). And less birds means caterpillars will eat all my cabbages, grow into butterflies that produce more caterpillars, and before you know it Cabbage Whites have achieved world domination. Soencouraging natural predators like birds, frogs, and hedgehogs, should in theory lead to balanced eco system (and the survival of my veggies).

There are more things that I need to do. My list tends to grow rather than get shorter. A frog has taken up residence inside a bucket in my garden. He seems happy enough, but it’s hardly palatial. I don’t have space for a full sized pond, but an upcycled container with some plants should at least be an improvement.

I might not be able to stop the development of the village near me, but I can give the wildlife on my doorstep a home. If the whole neighbourhood does the same, whether it’s making a hedgehog house or planting up a window box, we can give some of nature its home back.

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A massive thanks to Charlotte for her words and for Nosy Crow for inviting me to be part of this blog tour! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour (details below).

We Made a Movie is out now! Go treat yourself to a copy!

S x

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