I love Radio 4. And I mean really love it.
It's been my station of choice since I was 13. Admittedly, I did have a brief flirtation with Steve Wright in the Afternoon in the mid 80s (yes, I know, and I'm not proud it) and I'll admit that The Random Jottings of Hinge and Bracket was in fact on Radio 2, but basically, I'm a Radio 4 girl through and through.
It has kept me entertained during homesick nights at boarding school, distracted me through summers grading daffodil bulbs (the holiday job of choice in Lincolnshire), and been the background to many of the key moments in my life - (John Major's Desert Island Discs springs to mind - but I won't go into details as my mother reads this blog...).
And so, this goes some way to explain why the most exciting thing to happen to me in a long time has been presenting a short feature for this week's Gardeners' Question Time. It was recorded, a couple of weeks ago, at the new RSPB Wildlife Garden in Flatford, Suffolk which has been designed by Alex Johnson and Catherine Heatherington to show how you can create a wildlife friendly garden that doesn't have to look.. well.. messy.
With a wildlife crazy son and a poncey designer outlook, I have to say this concept appealed and the garden has plenty of simple ideas you can use without being 'in-your-face' educational. It's run by Shirley Boyle of the RSPB, who you can hear in the piece, with the help of intern Jacob Hunter and a whole raft of incredible volunteers. Best of all, it's literally buzzing with wildlife (including horse-flies as the producer, Lucy Dichmont can painfully attest) which my son would love.
But I'll admit what really caught my interest was the story of the two sisters who bequeathed the land to the RSPB - Sylvia and Margaret (Gargy) Richardson, who used to run a tearoom in the garden (seriously, tea and gardens, possibly my perfect pairing). They seemed to have been that wonderfully English combination of nature-loving eccentricity with a range of interesting pets, including a fox cub, rook and even a badger (pictured above). Admittedly, in my head they occasionally morph into Hinge and Bracket, but listening to 26 years of radio comedy can have this sort of side effect.
The piece will be going out on Radio 4 tomorrow (Friday) at 3pm and then repeats at 2pm on Sunday.(it's about 16 minutes in...).
PS On the same Radio 4 theme, my friend Bee's book, Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad is being serialised on Woman's Hour this week - OK so it has nothing to do with kids or gardening but I'm very proud.