As a renowned adventurer, diver and explorer, it’s not surprising to hear the great Paul Rose admit that there have been times in his life when he thought he may be about to witness the end of the World but his earliest memory of such a realisation may come as a surprise.
He explains, “My father was a mad keen gardener, and his father was a gamekeeper, so Dad did gardening in the old fashioned sense and was used to waiting for stuff to grow. We used to live in Romford and when I was 6 or 7 years old, I remember a boy, who could only have been 3 or 4 and from a rough neighbourhood, came into Dad’s garden and ripped up all of Dad’s rhubarb. Dad stormed out and was reading him the riot act and this little urchin, called Derek, splattered with rhubarb juice just looked straight at my dad and screamed ‘F-f-f-f-f*** off ’. I remember being so shocked and thinking ‘well, this is it; the World’s about to end,’” he laughs.
Paul describes his own garden in the Lake District as a ‘wildlife garden’. “ There are lots of weeds,” he admits “and I know there are two canoes buried amongst them somewhere; I have got plans though. I live opposite a farm where I get all l my free range meat and eggs from and I was only thinking the other day that it’s crazy that I don’t grow my own veg. Although I still spend November, December and January in Antarctica each year, I could still grow my own through the spring and summer months. I’ve got pots of flowers outside the the front and I appreciate the beauty of them. I’d like to grow edible flowers too, that’s a cool thing to do.”
The intrepid explorer’s love affair with Nature began in Wales when he stayed at a Youth Hostel near Merthyr Tydfil. “I was 14 years old, hated school and was just focussed on diving and motorbikes,” he recalls, “a geography teacher took a group of us out in the mountains and I was hooked straight away. I still spend quite a lot of time in Wales, though it’s usually climbing in North Wales or diving off the Pembroke coast. Welsh diving is brilliant, I love it. The Menai Straits is great for drift diving. I spoke to the Welsh Assembly Government at Lampeter in June and I am back in Wales at the end of October and beginning of November at Llandudno and Cardigan as part of the Speakers From The Edge Tour, Explore! , so I’m looking forward to that.”
Although, well respected as a speaker and TV presenter, Paul’s passion is obviously for fresh air, “I get so excited by simple scenery and big landscapes, it evokes powerful emotions; I love the energy you get from Nature and you don’t have to do Polar expeditions or mountain treks to experience it; you can get that same energy from your own garden or a nearby park, it’s a true energy, not a surface energy like you’d get from a cup of coffee.”
Paul’s love of the outdoors is endearing as he talks about his respect for and appreciation of the natural world, though there are aspects that are not quite so appreciated as others; “I’m not good in tight jungle spaces,” he admits, “I don’t really understand them or feel comfortable in them. Even some of the trees actually move as they try to find light. And I don’t like scorpions, centipedes and weird things like that and I get twitchy around spiders at the best of times; I’m conscious of manging my fear of them. I’m fine around creepy crawlies in the garden here, I see those as friendly bugs, but I’m not good with the sort of things that run around cheap hostels in the tropics,” he laughs.
Paul continues, “The weird thing is that there are over 7 billion of us on the Earth now, so we are a real force of nature ourselves for the first time and yet more and more of us are removed from Nature itself. It’s a terrible thing. My dream is to be part of the generation that re-connects our youth with Nature; it has so much to teach us.”
Find out more about Paul and what he’s up to at www.paulrose.org.
Water good idea
Well known and respected for his BBC series, Oceans and Britain’s Secret Seas, Paul will be taking to the water for WWF’s Blue Mile Flagship event at Stoke Newington West Reservoir in North London on September 4th. “It’s a really clever way to bring awareness of Ocean issues to people inland,” he explains, “you can swim or kayak or you can even walk a mile if you want; so you can contemplate the marine and freshwater environmental issues without even getting wet.”
“Nature isn’t a bottomless pit for our waste. Without our rivers, oceans, lakes and wetlands there would be no life on Earth; they’re home to an astounding array of fish, animal and plant life and provide us with food as well as water. Sadly these water habitats are suffering through climate change and pollution and the WWF is doing a great job raising awareness and much needed funds for research so we can protect these amazing environments.”
There is still time to sign up for the Flagship event, organise your own event or find a local one at www.bluemile.wwf.org.uk.