Lockdown Life and Nature Update:

Hello there!

I am aware it’s been 4 months since my last post, but bloody hell what a few months it’s been! I hope that wherever you are you’re keeping safe and well. I won’t go on to say about how unprecedented the times that we are living through are etc, because I know we are all sick-to-death of reading the phrase in our emails…

I wanted to write this post to give an update on what I’ve been up to over lockdown. Firstly, due to the Coronavirus preventing me from carrying out the annual Thames fish surveys this year, I was instead tasked with creating a podcast by my manager. At first I thought “shit”, but after a few glasses of wine, I decided to give podcast hosting a go. I mean, why not? It’s not like I have a slightly dodgy lisp and sometimes sound like Michael Caine (I do.)

The result of a frantic May and June was Talk of the ThamesA shiny new podcast series where I interview key people from around the Thames Estuary discussing subjects ranging from wildlife migration, to archaeology and flood mitigation. My first guest was the absolute legend of a man, Chris Baines. Chris has a fabulous career in wildlife gardening, presenting, and nature conservation and he was brilliant fun to work with. I was so nervous working with Chris, an experienced presenter and wildlife communicator and then there was me… A bit of a knob who wouldn’t use my new binoculars until I had had a shower and made cup of tea so I could truly savour the moment…

If you are interested in all things Thames, please do check out the first three episodes that are available now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and various other podcast directories:

I also have a fabulous line-up of future speakers, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this page!

Moving on to other news; During lockdown and when the exercise rules had been relaxed,  I really felt the need to spend as much time outdoors as possible (who didn’t?) I craved that anxiety release of lying in a grass field, swallows darting above me, the smell of wildflowers surrounding me and being totally at ease amongst nature. I know I’m not the only one who has suffered with anxiety over the past couple of months. There has been so much uncertainty and this has highlighted to everyone the importance of our green and blue natural spaces as a safe haven, a place to go to and spend time with wildlife.

If you’re in a more urban area, nature is still there. In the parks, in the trees lining the streets, in the empty rain-filled jam jar you left lying on the outside window sill. Taking pleasure in the smallest of critters can do such wonders for our mental health, if we only take the time to stop and look for it. For many, lockdown gave us that time.

Lastly; I have spent so much time on the allotment which since the beginning of lockdown has become my absolute pride and joy. I wanted to do my best to work with and garden alongside nature and subsequently implemented a small sunken pond and a bird feeding station. So far I’ve harvested carrots, curly kale, runner beans and not to mention Barry Marrilow!

I feel I’ve blabbered enough now and I’m aware you’re probably gagging for a cup of tea, so I will say my goodbye. Stay safe and enjoy the wildlife wherever you are!

BBC Radio 4 Costing the Earth

It was an absolute honour and lifelong dream to be interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth back in the summer for an episode aired in November called Thames Revival.

Within the episode I speak about my current project Estuary Edges, which aims to replace brick, concrete and metal tidal walls with natural habitat to encourage biodiversity and SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) along the River Thames.

I also talk about the fact that if we replenish and revive habitat in urban areas, nature will return!

Have a listen to the episode here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0009zcg

The rather lovely producer took this photo of my colleagues and I to use as the thumbnail for the episode on the BBC website. Put it this way; we all had to run to the toilet after wetting ourselves laughing seeing this photo for the first time. Have a laugh for yourself at what appears to be the new crew in town.

Album out Monday…

Costing the Earth

You’re Kidney Me?

There is literally nothing nature related in this post at all. Bit weird.

Today is my birthday. How do I feel about it? Bit depressed to be honest. I’m not being ungrateful – I’ve got the best group of friends around me and my parents phoned me up and all, but…

This is my first birthday I’ve spent mostly on my own and in London (*violins play). Birthday’s just aren’t as exciting when you get older, are they. Does not getting excited about my birthday mean that I’m getting old? Have I officially got to start cooing at babies, wearing trousers that come up to my neck (with a belt) and drive with my car seat so far forward that my knees are driven into my chin? Furthermore; make jam and actually enjoy an episode of Gardeners World?…

Maybe.

It hasn’t been a brilliant build-up to my birthday either. Over the past month I’ve been in and out of hospital. Not fun at all. Turns out you cant just ignore symptoms of a UTI because if you do, they swiftly turn into a kidney infection and here I am… Yes it does hurt. Nothing some strong antibiotics and some (bloody great) pain killers won’t sort out though. Whilst sat waiting in A&E last night (after I keeled over whilst carrying out fish surveys in the river Thames – cue fish puns), I got asked to be in the new series of Channel 4’s 24 hours in A&E. So not only was I crippled over in pain, clutching my right kidney, I was also microphoned-up and filmed for peoples entertainment… Weeeell, someone may as well get some enjoyment out of my pain, aye?

So all in all… Life has truly gone off the scale at the moment. Privileged pain, oh I’m aware of that.. But fucking weird nonetheless.

Cheers to potpourri, Homes Under the Hammer and kidneys. I’m officially 23… (And we laaaaughed and laaaaughed)

Bloody well get on with it, Tooby.

 

Always Check One’s Surroundings…

Having recently returned from Tanzania; I was reminded of a situation I somehow got myself into during my first trip to Tanzania (2008) when I was just eleven. We were on safari in the Serengeti and I was in urgent need to disperse of my urine… Yes, I was in desperate need for a toilet. The nice man driving the Land rover pulled over next to a hippo pool, so I could hop out and scamper behind a bush. Now, going for a wee behind a bush is hard enough when you’re female – let alone trying it in Africa’s wilderness.. Trying to avoid all the African thorns (which for reference are fucking huge!), I went for wee. Half way through this much needed wee, I heard a loud gasp coming from the Land rover which was parked in the near distance. “Girls hurry up!! Quickly, quickly!!” Running back to the truck, still pulling up my trousers, I turned around to realise that I was peeing a few meters away from a rough 4m long crocodile!! Yup.. a flipping 500kg animal that could kill in one smooth, swing of a bite. I’ve since learnt to check my surroundings when peeing in the great outdoors.. You know, just in case there’s a pervert crocodile lurking nearby…

My Apologies…

Sorry I’ve been so absent lately… here is a video of what I’ve been up to…

On a more exciting note – I’m currently filming a new set of wildlife videos to be uploaded shortly (woop!) 👍🐛🐌

Who am I?…

Since university? I don’t even know myself… **Slaps own Face**

My name is Eve Sanders. People call me Tooby. I have a BSc in Marine Biology and Oceanography from The University of Plymouth and I am currently working for the fabulous Thames Estuary Partnership. This is me with a pickled deep sea angler fish… because that’s how I roll. Apparently.newforblog

I am a marine scientist hoping to pursue a career in both research and science communication (TV and radio presenting for natural history programs). Although I chose to focus my studies around the marine world, I have a passion for all things nature related. I also regularly embark on slightly odd/ridiculous adventures abroad. ToobysTravels is a place for me to share my frolicking/experiences and communicate my science to you. I hope you enjoy!

I am truly grateful for the kind support ToobysTravels receives. Thank you. My aim is to create content that will edge out a giggle (or at the very least a smirk..) from you, whilst promoting important environmental issues and wildlife conservation. So please do me a ‘flavour’ and click follow… You won’t regret it.. (I hope…)

If you should wish to meet me and pass on any toilet humour related jokes, I will be attending ‘The Peoples Walk for Wildlife’ (organised by Chris Packham) at Hyde park on the 22nd of September (details below) to help raise awareness about the UK’s depleting wildlife in need. See you there!

https://www.chrispackham.co.uk/the-peoples-walk-for-wildlife

Pigeon Mayhem…

Lunch time in London. I go to a nice yet busy cafe to grab a sandwich. Pigeon flies in. Entire cafe goes into meltdown. Adult men flapping their arms around. I walk up to the poor, exhausted animal, pick it up and take it outside and around the corner. Walk back inside cafe and I’m greeted with a huge round of applause and a free flapjack! You can take the girl out of Devon…. etc etc ..

Off The Beaten Track – Iceland Adventure (and a Half..) 2018

Alriiiighty then.. this blog post could actually be useful for any perspective Iceland tourists, so turn down the no doubt banging tunes, pop down the telegraph (or whatever newspaper floats your boat) and listen up!

About two months ago I was sat in a cafe eating a rather splendid cheese, sausage and salad toastie in Plymouth (in Cafe Americano… but any way, back to the story) when my dear friend and fellow student Shynn came to join me for a coffee (she decided to order a toastie too, but I won’t go there..). As a natural break in conversation arose (as we both took a bite from our rather delicious toas… oh never mind) Shynn turned to me and rather out of the blue and completely casually said “wanna go Iceland in a month with Alfred and I?” I paused. “Yeah alright” I replied and that was that. Alfred is Shynn’s partner who also studies at the same university as Shynn and me and is half Icelandic so pops back to see his mum once a year. After Shynn’s casual invite I didn’t think much of it as exams and deadlines started to bunch; but before I knew it we were stood in some weird airline checking in queue and having those cheeky issues that you realise are the price to pay when you fly with a cheap airline that you’ve literally never heard of in your life…

Shynn, Alfred and myself arrived in Iceland on the 6th June and Alfred’s Mum was extraordinarily welcoming and lovely. First thoughts of Iceland? It wasn’t that cold! Not surprising as it’s currently summer there, but a rather depressing yet fascinating talk with Alfred’s Mum lead to me learning that the summer temperatures have been steadily increasing over recent years parallel to global warming. In fact, in just 150 years it is expected that all of Iceland’s beautiful and majestic glaciers will be completely gone, having melted. This will cause severe impacts to the wildlife and ecosystems, not to mention the tourism and enjoyment the glaciers bring to visitors and locals alike.

On our first day we did a lot of hard core sleeping, all of us completely shattered from having just finished university (literally two days previous to boarding the plane!) When we eventually did come around, Shynn and I caught the local bus into Reykjavik and once we had helped some poor, very lost, old American tourist find her destination, we cracked on with exploring this interesting and cosy capital. Reykjavík is absolutely beautiful. Mountains frame your every view and the shops are all quite modern and ‘quirky’. The highlight though I must say was finding this cracking bakery which sold cinnamon buns fit for a god (honestly, just one singular bite sent me somewhere I’ve never been..) You can find this bakery off one of the side roads from the cathedral (insert name) which sits proud on the very top of the hill (you can’t miss it). There’s also a penis museum. Enough said.

Above: me looking like a knob outside the Harper Building (built for concerts and exhibitions).

Alfred very kindly drove us around during our trip and as a local himself, he was able to show us some of the amazing areas that are off the beaten ‘tourist associated’ track. We were based in the South of Iceland and I have to say the scenery is quite something (a bit like a supped up Dartmoor, with the similar rocky and mossy ground). If you’re into a cheeky smidge of twitching (bird watching) then a trip to Iceland should definitely go on your bucket list (we saw puffins!!). I’ll pause here while you go and add it. Go on!

Now a few touristy areas we did check out included Thingvellir which is where the two continental plates are present (Europe and America). From here there is an obvious path you can follow to see some of the fabulous views of the biggest lake in Iceland (the walk can be as long or as short as you like and it’s well sign posted). You can also check out the old little church in the valley. We had a great walk through the canyons which supposedly separate the plates. One thing that did make me sad during this hike was seeing the enormous visitor center they are currently building due to the massive recent influx of annual tourists. But hey ho… Oh and also… unless you want to spend £3 on going for a piss, I hope you like a wild bush wee. Might be worth keeping a few bob on you anyway though… just in case your bowels promote a different and more complicated substance… Het hem..

Above: a rather interesting rock formation……. Come on now..

After visiting Thingvellir; we carried on driving to the geysers (a hot spring in the ground where the water is at boiling temperature and occasionally spits out when the pressure builds up beneath). These were cool. I advise seeing them if possible.

On a another day we visited Gullfoss Falls. A ginormous waterfall also on the golden circle (a popular tourist route). Stunning views of this vast water mass are possible from a easily accessible path that goes right up close to it (you get wet so wear a rain coat, unless you need a shower). On the drive back from Gullfoss we stopped off at Kerid Crater (an extinct volcano after erupting 6500 years ago) and walked around the perimeter. Fab views and a fairly easy hike, this is definitely one for photos! A slightly dodgy path leads you down to the pond which now sits in the middle of the crater. You do have to pay to do this walk but it really wasn’t much at all (about £5 I think).

Now onto my favourite day (this really was the most fun!) We visited Heimaey (by ferry) in the Westman Islands (a beautiful small archipelago off the South Iceland coast). Here, there is just so much to see and do. The hiking is out of this world (plenty for the adrenaline junky). Lots of incredible volcanos to see, lava fields and wildlife. The Aquarium is well worth a stop off too because you can get face to face with a rescue puffin and also learn about the tradition of local children collecting lost baby puffins and releasing them at sea (daaaw!) Whilst on Heimaey you can also try out the local tradition of cliff swinging (grab a rope, jump and hope for the best) called ‘Spranga’.

Just to finish off this essay of a post (if you haven’t already fallen asleep); Whilst in Reykjavik I highly recommend the Perlan Museum where they have a man made ice cave you can explore. The temperatures in the cave drop to -15 degrees and it’s a lot of fun (no… really!)

In summary; visit Iceland. It’s fun. Not sure how to finish this post really, but I’m gagging for a cup of tea, so I’m going to (needs must). Bye!

TT Xx

© Eve Sanders