Auther Ronnie Reed
It wasn’t the A27 or the low bank of rain cloud squatting on the top of the Downs or the radio report on the economy that depressed me driving into work the other morning. It was a small statistic slipped into another news item. Apparently, on average, we watch 30 hours of television a week. I did some quick calculations. If you assume that most people are awake for fifteen hours a day, that is two days of our waking lives each week that we spend in front of the ‘box’. I’m probably in a minority of one but that sounds really depressing because a lot of what we get from television represents ‘second hand’ experience, second hand living.
I can feel the protests already because I know there is some really good broadcasting out there including some excellent wildlife programmes. But it should not be a substitute for the real thing, the real experience.
You don’t need David Attenborough at your elbow to enjoy the wildlife on your doorstep. This time of year particularly, provides a great opportunity to get out there and ‘do’ the wildlife bit for real. Take a walk out on the Downs and hear the mewing of buzzards overhead, or find a wood nearby drugged with the heady scent of bluebells. You might even be lucky and spot a herd of deer moving through the dappled shadows of the trees. Venture out at dusk as the world stills and the shadows lengthen and bats come out to flicker like phantoms through the gathering darkness. Step out of doors at night when the sky is clear and marvel at the immensity of the stars overhead, or set the alarm early and go for a walk as the sky lightens in the east and wait as the birds herald in the day with their chorus.
You don’t even have to travel out into the countryside. Take a walk along the street to the local park and keep your eyes open and you may see birds carrying food for their young. Watch. Follow. Look and you might discover a nest. You don’t need a film crew to open up a world of insects and spiders in your garden; you can do it yourself. Move pots to discover what is lurking beneath; use your eyes to find what you are sharing your living space with; the spiders spinning miracle webs between stalks of grass, a solitary bee living in the hole beside your doorstep.
It is all out there waiting to be discovered and all you need is 30 hours a week when you are not watching television!