At First........Life was bleak, cooped up with luggage in a city without a garden. While reading zoology at University, vacations were earning as a kennel maid and visiting the Aladdin’s cave of London’s Natural History Museum – a treasure trove of obscure creatures and structures, quiet as a tomb, a wonderful place for study.
Specimens were crammed in traditional displays, shelf by shelf, labelled with biological pedigrees and who had collected it where and when. My name was proudly there - Schizodactylus monstrosus collected West Pakistan, 1962. I last smiled at ‘my’ burrowing cricket some years ago, in a spectacular ceiling-high display of insect diversity– beautiful creatures flying and crawling between glass walls, uncluttered by labels. Now welcomed, noisy excited children rushed about; museums are an eloquent index of change – now a popular treat for my grandchildren.
Intervening Years....... Research in Animal Behaviour, then passing on the passion for the natural world via teaching, lecturing, journalism, monitoring special plants in Cambridgeshire (for the County Wildlife Trust), writing ‘The Victorians and Their Flowers’ (Croom Helm 1983), later, nineteen years as a voluntary leader in Wildlife Watch (junior branch of the Wildlife Trusts) and creating two wildlife gardens. Art ambitions, deemed ‘unsuitable’ for a ‘scientist’ in schools in my time, were realised: silk painting and watercolour, and ceramics at Technical College evening classes, followed by ten years creating and selling ornamental porcelain and jewellery, themed to celebrate the joy of plants and ocean creatures. I drew the book’s 105 illustrations.