When I read that title, Exercise Hedgehog, on the google alert (having a google alert for the word ‘hedgehog’ is usually great - it means that any snippets of news about our spiky friends get dropped into my inbox … but …. when there is a new Sonic movie out, there is havoc!) I did wonder whether this was an injunction pointed at overweight hedgehogs (or their supporters who have been indulging a little too much in BHPS birthday cake!)  … but no.

Possibly it is a reference to Hedgehog Awareness Week … into which we have just launched? The official start was Sunday 1st May, but I was up on Dartmoor photographing the most amazing wedding of two friends of mine - both pagans, this was a wedding in a stone circle followed by a night of the wildest Morris dancing you have ever seen … more Mad Max than twee bells and hankies … anyway that was why this update is a day late!

No again. It seems that our beloved hedgehog has been conscripted into the latest NATO manoeuvres! 

There is undeniable tension in the world thanks to the twazzock with the long table (and many other ‘strong’ men who play out their inadequacies on the world stage and with world-ending potential.) But this rise in tension got me thinking ... 

I would love to see as much effort put into finding sustainable solutions to the vast ecological problems we face as is put into finding military solutions to political problems. I worry that at some point the majority of people will suddenly become aware that the preservation of life on earth is rather important to our continued survival, but that it will be too late. 

So how do hedgehogs have a part to play in this? 

It is sometimes (well, to be honest, pretty much always) overwhelming to be confronted with the enormity of life on earth - the beauty, the diversity, the potential - and the dark side, the destruction and greed. So big is what confronts us, that we can have a tendency to shut down.

But if we can find a way in - a chink of light suggesting the door is not completely shut - then maybe we can begin to see that even small changes make a difference. This is where our hedgehogs play such an important part. 

Most wildlife is remote and distant - even the beautiful birds that sing in parks and gardens are never really that close (apart from ‘my’ robin of course!) But if we are lucky enough to see a hedgehog, there is an animal that can, if we are calm and quiet, allow us closeness and connection. I am not suggesting you go bothering hogs by picking them up unnecessarily, but that if we lie down and wait there is a chance that we will end up nose to nose with this amazing sentient mammal. There is a connection - I have felt it - when you look into the eyes of a hedgehog in the wild. You feel those eyes noticing you - and that is the moment when connections can be made.

We need to tackle so many ecological problems, but this connection reminds us that we can face the apparently overwhelming and start with a single step. One small step, make life better for one hedgehog, and then the next step, make life better for all the hedgehogs near you - and then another step and the journey has begun.

See if you can use Hedgehog Awareness Week as the motivator to get you taking that first step - you never know where it might lead you. 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my ‘coffee’ page - it is enormously gratifying. I am very much feeling my way with this and not sure how it will develop, but the enthusiastic support was wonderful. I have yet to write to each and every donor - but the aforementioned wedding (and then the discovery that I have very much overdone it … I will spare you the gory details, but basically the hernia operation wound has started misbehaving again) got in the way - but I will.

Amazing artwork - thank you!