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Wow so many new memories and it's only been a month.

One Month In!

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. My website has organised content about lots of different topics that are easily found from the homepage. This blog is a more informal area of my website.

Just enjoy the pictures or read my ramblings too!

It has been a month now since the extreme slowdown in my work. In particular, my maths tutoring is very quiet now and I will not be taking weekly home-visit tutorials next academic year (but exciting new support available for residents of Poole will be announced soon). I have done it on purpose to create more time for writing and creating videos. Right now I am travelling to research new content for my wildlife guide and also create some wildlife videos. With my motorhome and careful use of budget backpacker accommodation it is not so expensive as you might think and hopefully this will carry on for a while before I run out of money!

My wildlife book now has over 500 places and could easily double in size in time for the next edition due out in summer 2017. And I have a new project to make wildlife videos. To make them seasonal I am going to release them all one year after recording them so even though I have made two already they won't be out until next July! This also means that anything you see in the videos will be in the current edition of the wildlife guide.

First stop was the Netherlands. I caught the ferry from Dover and drove straight to Friesland in the central Netherlands. Weerribben Wieden is a reserve that I tried in the winter and found to be not very good for winter wildlife but decided to return to see the supposedly spectacular summer wildlife. And wow it is amazing. Lots of dragonflies, damselflies, wildflowers and some really easy wetland you can explore by canoe to really get away from the crowds and see the wildlife better. The secretive and rare Purple Heron lives here and I was lucky enough to see one. The incredible Scarlet Dragonfly in the above photograph was seen here.

Then onto the country with my most hated guide: Belgium. Like really. I have had two reviews for this guide and both have been one star. One reviewer said it was "like a school project had been published as a book". On behalf of school children everywhere I do not like the use of that as a negative comment as in my teaching I have seen amazing work done for school projects. Anyway, I think the core problem is that Belgium has a lot of hunting and not very much wildlife conservation. Probably the reviewers are giving bad reviews because I cannot magically turn the country into a wildlife oasis. However, this trip I tried two more sites and one of them is now my favourite in the country and will get a video to highlight it next summer. The Foret d'Anlier was already one of my top destinations in Belgium and now I have found a secluded walk with some excellent wildlife. I still have not seen any Wild Boar here but did see more field signs including big mud pits they use.

Luxembourg was a big surprise. What an incredible country for wildlife! I have never heard much about the places here but my personal experience is that they care for their countryside and that lots of birds, mammals, flowers and butterflies can be seen here. On one walk I saw Pine Marten, Red Fox, Roe Deer and Bank Vole which is a great set of mammals to see in a single day. The tree in the photograph was in the forest near Echternach in the north-east of Luxembourg.

Switzerland is another new country for me. I would sum it up as (1) very expensive (2) very scenic (3) great for hiking (4) a wildflower heaven in July (5) very inhospitable if you are in a motorhome and (6) very expensive. I am so glad I finally went and the Alps here are beautiful. The view in the first photo is at Biglen Alp to the south of Interlaken. The alpine wildlife is more difficult to see as there is less of it but most of it is specialised to live in the mountains and exciting to see. The remaining three photographs above are of an Alpine Heath (a mountain specialist butterfly), Alpine Salamander (only found in the Alps) and a Bearded Vulture (actually fairly common in northern Africa but in Europe limited mainly to mountains).

In Switzerland there seem to be signs everywhere saying you cannot park your motorhome. It was a bit crazy. I would not go again with my motorhome without careful planning. Also it is so expensive! Food seemed to be about three times as much as in the neighbouring countries. It must have used up approximately 2 months travelling budget in less than 2 weeks. Probably this was a good thing to happen early on as it has made me more aware that with my change in career I need to be really careful with money to give the wildlife guides and videos the maximum amount of time to start making a profit. I think I can hang on for about four years at the moment and it is really important to me to give this career-change the best possible chance to work.

I have been in France for a few days now but will save that for my next blog post. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions for the next blog post. I want to add a comments section below but it is not very easy and I've left it for this month.



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