It was 1989 when I saw an advert for a scientific expedition to Seram, in the Indonesian archipelago. I was accepted to go on the six-week trip, but before that I managed to get married, move to a flat in London and accept a job at a firm of environmental advisers. When I explained that I had an upcoming expedition, the company offered me the position – and paid leave!
Before I began a course in Wildlife Illustration in Carmarthen, West Wales, I volunteered to work on Llanddwyn Island, in North Wales. Although I worked as a warden on several nature reserves during college holidays, including Skomer Island, in Pembrokeshire, the Dyfi Estuary in Mid Wales and have continued to carry out conservation work throughout my life, the small island of Llanddwyn – that lies off the West coast of Anglesey (‘Ynys Mon’ in Welsh) – has a special place in my heart.
On Wednesday 17 June 2020, I watched a thunderstorm pass over the floodplain. The air was heavy and as I jotted notes down in my nature journal, I knew that my father was dying in hospital. It was as if the stormy landscape was echoing my feelings.
From my window I watched as the skies darkened and a sudden, huge, brightly lit bolt of lightning hit the floodplain in front of me. I felt as though the rainstorm was washing through me and the intensity was profound.
WATCHING the floodplain closely over the course of a year opens the eyes to the power of the natural world – and how we need to protect it.
Raging storms in the wintertime cause the dark waters of the Usk river to rise rapidly across the floodplain and geese gather in large flocks to feed at the waterside.
FOR as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in natural history. At the age of eight, I was overjoyed when my teacher informed the class that we were to create an environmental studies project. I made a booklet, the pages strung together with a piece of wool, drew various animals and wrote about them in wobbly writing. From that moment, I wanted to write a book on the subject.