What a year it’s been… Just under a year ago my parents and I moved to the United Kingdom. In the middle of a pandemic and yes, it’s been a pretty wild ride. I can’t actually believe that it’s been a year and there is still so much to explore and experience which has been rather difficult due to lockdown.
Being closer to family has been a such a wonderful and new experience for us as we have not been in the same country together for over 10 years. The rules in the UK have been that we were only allowed to meet outdoors so we had to became very ingenious at finding many tucked away stunning nature spots to meet each other. This has given me the opportunity to discover many species of fauna and flora at the same time.
Oak trees are beautiful with or without leaves
I believe I can safely say that I have experienced all four seasons in the UK now. We arrived in mid-summer, and stayed in the Cotswold for two months. We did our ‘daily exercise’ on the Minchinhampton Common and Rodborough commons and wandered through the footpaths of the farmers’ fields, exploring the quant little villages, all empty due to Covid. Autumn was so different to the autumn in the Cape, as we experienced a season of complete difference as the huge oak trees turned from dark green to reds, oranges and brown. We survived winter with the luxury of having snow fall and spring with its myriad of colour and different species of flowers all blooming at different times. The beautiful cherry blossoms on the trees as well as the tulips, daffodils and hyacinth. I am learning all about how important the wild flowers are to the bees and how farmers are encouraged to turn their unused farmlands back into meadows.
Highland cows are just fantastic cows
We are serenaded at dawn and dusk by the blackbird especially, but many birds calling to herald the beginning of the day or the end to it. It’s been really exciting learning all the different bird species and their different calls. I haven’t seen a fox, hedgehog or a badger (however, recently we saw a dead badger lying on the side of the road which was very sad considering the hardships they are going through with culling and TB)
Here's a living badger instead
The UK definitely has a different type of wild to that of South Africa or Africa in general. I suppose it is because the UK is so built up with towns, villages and farmland on an island that is not that big to begin with in comparison to the other large continents. Although many people struggle with the long winter, the spring and summer make up for it. Yes, if you want sunny skies and hot weather all year round, then the UK is probably not the best place for you. This is why the majority of people living here go for frequent holidays to Portugal, Italy and Spain whenever they have the chance. However, I enjoy the cooler weather and maybe the novelty of the sun going down at four o clock in winter while we are tucked up in a warm toasty environment is very appealing may wear of, at present I find it enjoyable. With the sun only going down at half past nine in summer, gives us plenty of outdoor activity time to explore the different lanes, footpaths and meadows. This is all so very different to what I am used to. The windy country roads that we experience on our way to my sister’s house, with the cows or sheep in the meadows to the vast highways as we are travelling to my other sister 3 hours away.
The sun sets so late in Summer... its awesome
I have noticed how the country celebrates its natural areas and how it is transforming its land back to its original landscape to rescue itself from the grips of climate change. Bogs are being reformed back into bogs. The hedges which we could not understand and irritated us at first, we realized were actually planted to encourage more insects and bird life and as I mentioned before, farmlands are being retransformed into meadows for the bees and butterfly’s which are so important to our future food supply. Somehow the birds and insects seem a lot more prevalent, I’m not quite sure whether it’s the smaller gardens packed with birds and insects or whether, because we are in the country, there are more species, however it is a luxury I am appreciating.
I have been encouraged by the wide news coverage on television and radio of the importance sustainability and treasuring the environment, for instance the radio station I listen to is promoting the saving of bees by encouraging children to build a garden to attract them. The winning garden will then be built at a specific hospital where children are struggling with mental health issues. This is then carried through on television shows and before you know it, everyone is caught up in wanting to plant gardens for bees. I find this incredible encouraging.
I find that the overall feeling I have received from being in the UK is one of encouragement and thought for your community and environment. It may seem as if I’m slightly bias towards the UK now but let’s be honest, nothing beats African wildlife and its landscapes. One’s heart will always remain in Africa.
It’s been a wonderful first year in England and I am enjoying learning more and more about all it has to offer so watch this space for future insights and tips regarding the wonderful world we are trying to preserve and conserve.
Walks down country lanes