As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.

Newsround, Radio 4 and the Hunterian


Since I was named as one of the most influential conservationists by BBC Wildlife Magazine I've been incredibly busy with media things. This last week is probably the last of the main appearances for a bit, but what a week it's been !

On Tuesday CBBC Newsround ran a piece about me that they filmed the week before, and yesterday morning I was live on  BBC Radio 4's on Saturday Live programme with Reginald D Hunter, Andre Anderson and Juliet Russell - after which I met up with my editor Jo and Paolo Viscardi, who was the scientific advisor on my book ! This is how it went....

CBBC Newsround

CBBC Newsround had been in touch soon after I was in the news a few weeks ago, but it wook some time to sort out a date that we could all do.  Finally we arranged that they would come round to my house after school on Tuesday the second of June and do all the filming that evening. The presenter was the amazing Martin Dougan, and producer Heather was doing the filming, and luckily we had a great day for it.

Martin used to captain the Glasgow wheelchair basketball team, and I play basketball myself, so we talked a lot about that.

We filmed in my bedroom for about an hour. Martin was asking me the questions and Heather was filming. My bedroom is a bit small, but they did a brilliant job of it.

We needed to  film me finding a skeleton, and I knew just the place where a roe deer buck had been hit by a car last November, and was now skeletonised. It was a really windy but sunny day. We spent about another hour there before dropping Martin and Heather back off at the train station.

But the excitement wasn't over yet. Just as we pulled up at the train station carpark, a drunk man fell off the pavement and banged his head on the road. Dad rushed over to help him, and spent the next twenty minutes doing first aid and trying to stop the blood until the ambulance arrived. He was still doing that as I waved goodbye to Martin and Heather as they got on the train to Glasgow.

You can watch the final piece on the CBBC website here. I thought it was great.

Radio 4

On Friday at 9am I was in my maths class. Twelve hours later I was 450 miles away, walking through the centre of London at night. And twelve hours after that I was live on BBC Radio 4 !

Radio 4's Saturday Live programme had wanted to do a piece for a while, and the original plan was for a journalist to interview me while I was out looking at bones. Then I got an email from the producer asking me if I wanted to appear on the show live ? Of course I did.

It's pretty easy to get from my house to the hotel in London. All you have to do is take the car, stop for a haircut (to look your best, because it's radio), then drive to the airport car park, park, get a bus, check in, get a meal, find out your flight is delayed by an hour, fly, get a bus, get a train, get a tube, then walk to the hotel.

After checking in Dad and I walked round to New Broadcasting House, which I already knew fairly well because I was there for The One Show last December.

The next morning was a lovely day. I was up at 6am, had breakfast, then walked round to New Broadcasting House for 8.15am.

In reception there is a big screen which shows all the main BBC channels at the moment. I recognised the BBC Breakfast sofa from having been there a few weeks ago !

I was taken up to the "green room" area, and Andre Anderson, who is a poet who helped produce a book all about his area of London, was there already waiting. He was really nice. A little bit after that comedian Reginald D. Hunter arrived, and was very nice, although he looked a bit tired from having done a gig the night before. Then voice-coach and singer Juliet Russell arrived, and she was lovely.

A few minutes before the programme began, we were brought through to the studio I sat between co-presenter Aasmah and Juliet. Richard Coles, the other presenter, (who is also a vicar, but used to be a pop star) was going to be interviewing me. Dad was in the production booth next door. 

When the programme started I was nervous but I relaxed as we went in through the show. It was really inspirational hearing everyone talk during their piece. My slot was the last one, about 15 mins before the end.

When my piece came around, I said that I brought three skulls for them to ID. It was very amusing, and five minutes before the end, I gave away the answers. Reg thought the beaver was a fox-dog - I think he meant coyote, Juliet knew the the woodcock was a bird but she did not know what type and Andre thought that the swan pelvis was part of a deer skull. Everyone did really well, and Radio 4's listeners are pretty smart.

This is the group photo at the end of the programme. Live radio is tough, tougher than TV, I think, but I think it went fairly well, and it was inspirational to be on with such amazing guests and two brilliant presenters.

You can listen to the programme on the BBC website here. I'm about 1hr 15 mins in, but the whole programme is interesting.

After chatting a bit Dad and I left to meet my editor Jo Bourne and Paolo Viscardi, who was the fact-checker on my book, as well as being a curator at the Horniman Museum and a brilliant bone blogger as well. They are both brilliant people and they had been massively supportive of me with everything I had done. They were waiting for us at the cafe outside the BBC.

The Hunterian

It was good to relax after the programme. neither Jo or Paolo has heard it, as they had been travelling in, so I told them how it had gone, as well as funny stories from behind the scenes and from our hotel.

Then we caught a taxi to the Hunterian museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, which was Jo's suggestion. I'd like to blog properly about the Hunterian, but no photography is allowed in there. It's an unusual museum. I thought it was brilliant, but it is not for everyone. There was jars of foetuses and a whole display of amputated penises. But the one thing dad warned me about looking at was someone about my age, whose head had been dissected into four quarters. The quarter they showed was the right eye, still with eyelashes on.

There was some really cool stuff, like the Irish Giant, a 7'7ft man and a video of keyhole surgery, which I enjoyed watching because I had this done to me when I got my appendix out. It's aimed at medical people mainly, and a lot of the specimens are human and show all sorts of medical disorders, some of which are bone related and some are of soft tissue.

In the middle, there was loads of large animal skulls, and Paolo quizzed me on the skulls and seemed impressed by how many I got right.

I'm normally not that happy about museums which don't allow photography, but in this case it was probably right, although it would have been nice to have pictures of some of the animal exhibits.

After that we left and went to get lunch. We then walked passed St. Paul's and then we to the top of the shopping centre next to it, which had a view of the whole of London.We stayed there for about twenty minutes chatting, then me and dad walked to the train station, waved goodbye to Paolo and Jo and went home. It was a very busy day !

A big thank you to all the teams at Newsround, Saturday Live (especially Alex) and of course to Jo and Paolo !

Enjoy this post ? Share it !

Free counters!