Despite a drizzly overcast day, I am beaming, when Matthew Oates arrives for this podcast recording in Cheltenham, immediately after he has been at an event at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2015, based on his book “In Pursuit of Butterflies”.
Matthew has been extraordinarily kind to me over the past 5 years, after he heard that I was planning to publish a book called: Shropshire Butterflies – a poetic and artistic guide to the butterflies of Shropshire – and was a great support over the whole year preceding its publication. He even joined eleven of us at Wenlock Poetry Festival in 2012 to read poems such as his “’On seeing the first Orange-tip’, and I always seek him out at The New Networks for Nature conference in Stamford.
He has the wonderful job title at The National Trust of ‘National specialist on Nature’, where he has worked since 1990. He is something of a butterfly expert. I believe he is the world expert on the Purple Emperor – and he has in fact been butterflying now for over fifty years. But he also, most importantly, has a strong sense of Place, and a belief in our essential emotional and spiritual connection with nature, when we allow it.
You may have seen him on TV: on The One Show, Springwatch, Great British Summer, Butterflies – A very British Obsession; and I love listening to him on radio 4. We are very lucky in the UK to have such naturalists as Matthew, John Handley, Nigel Brown and Brett Westwood.
Today I was asking Matthew Oates about Stinging Nettles. You can find his podcast, and writing on the Stinging Nettle on www.fairacrepress.co.uk where you can also find out more about the Maligned Species project – a poetry-writing project – encouraging poetry with a scientific slant.