Posted by: billpurdue | December 9, 2010

Hugh and the Hedgehogs

When was the last time you saw a hedgehog in your garden? It’s many years since I looked out of my bedroom window into the front garden one night to find out what all the sniffing and snorting was all about, to find a pair of hedgehogs going through a mating ritual. If you have a resident hedgehog in your garden, then you are probably quite lucky. I miss seeing hedgehogs and so I was quite intrigued when I came  across a book by Hugh Warwick called A Prickly Affair [Penguin £14.99 9781846140655].

Now I know I’ve mentioned this book before, but that was before I had read it – all of it. I can recommend it to anyone who has the remotest liking for these animals and possibly for anyone who can’t see what all the fuss is about. Hugh Warwick has been a hedgehog enthusiast for more than 20 years – in fact it’s not just enthusiasm, it’s an obsession. In this book he explains what got him hooked on the little animals, how he helped to stop the hedgehog cull in the Uists in the Outer Hebrides and tracking hedgehogs at night in the Devon countryside. He tells of his trips to the USA where they keep hedgehogs as pets (he doesn’t recommend it) and hold the Hedgehog Olympics and to China in search of the rare Hemiechinus hughi, a hedgehog first recorded by the missionary Father Hugh. Then there are the people who run the hedgehog hospitals, people who have devoted their lives to looking after hedgehogs in all kinds of need.


If you want a book about the lifestyle of these little animals or their anatomy and physiology, then you will be disappointed. It is a book about our relationships with hedgehogs, why they are so appealing to so many people and what hedgehogs can do for us – if we let them. The book does have some advice on how to make our gardens more attractive to hedgehogs and it ends with an impassioned plea for human beings to rediscover their connection with nature. Communing with nature really is good for us and hedgehogs can help us do that.


There are two great new documentary series on the BBC – “At Home with the Georgians” is presented by the delightful Amanda Vickery who explores how the great British obsession with our homes began 300 years ago. There are only three episodes to this series, so be quick or you’ll miss it. If you want to read more, Amanda Vickery, who is Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary College, University of London, had written Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England [Yale UP £20 9780300154535]. If her entertaining style of TV presentation is anything to go by, then this should be an entertaining read.


I really enjoyed the series “Victorian Farm” which was broadcast last year (?) and now “Edwardian Farm”, currently being shown on BBC2 is just as good. The programme was filmed at Morwellham Quay in Devon, once a very busy inland port and beautiful part of the countryside. I have thumbed through the book of the TV programme Edwardian Farm [Pavilion £25 978-1862058859] more than once in the bookshops. What I like about it is that it isn’t just a straight retelling of the year spent by Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn  – there seems to be much more to it than that. It’s high on my “wants “list  and Christmas is coming!


(I did say I would write about my “pick of the year” this week, but other books have caught my attention – next week hopefully)

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