Wednesday, January 12, 2011


A beautifully warm winter's day today saw me drag the Faery away from the television, insisting we should go for a walk. She wasn't convinced, but the final stretch home paid off and she was glad we got outside. Why?

Because we saw this little fellow:

Hello there!

The feeling probably isn't mutual, but I really love squirrels. Really. There are no squirrels in Australia, so I always become a child when I see one, which can be quite often some days. Sure, in Australia there are koalas and possums - all kinds of furry cuteness - but they lack the obsessive craziness that squirrels possess. Not to mention the spectacular twitchy tails and movement.

You'd think that after living in the UK for quite a few years, the novelty would have worn off by now, but no. Going back to Australia for five years kind of reset the button. Sort of like with Ben & Jerry's.

I guess this is because the first time I saw a squirrel, I was 23. An entire childhood, squirrel-free. There has been lost time to make up for.

I still remember my first (or really, J's) encounter with squirrels like it was yesterday. It was the day after we'd arrived in London. We went for a stroll around Regent's Park and saw our first squirrel on a tree right by the entrance. We took about a dozen blurry photos (and this was back in the days when film was still used), not realising there would be hundreds more, frolicking within the park... and it gets better.

Half-way through the park, a squirrel crossed our path. Awesome, time for some close-up shots of the little critter. The squirrel came closer. And closer. And closer. Suddenly, it was climbing up J's legs. Now, J is an animal lover, and very little freaks him out when it comes to nature. But his response? He froze. I think he was pretty sure he was going to receive a nasty nip in his nether regions. He pleaded for me to help.

And my response? Doubled over in laughter, while trying to capture the moment on film. That is how much I love him. 

As for the squirrel, he disappeared as suddenly as he'd come. J's tackle was safe.

This first encounter didn't put us off squirrels - it endeared them to us all the more, cheeky buggers that they are. From then on, whenever we paid a visit to one of the many Royal Parks of London, we made sure we always had a bag of nuts to share with our squirrel friends. We loved sitting quietly on a park bench as a group of squirrels approached slowly - at first, eating the nuts we'd scattered on the ground, then eventually sitting on our laps and eating out of our hands. 

Most parks have a resident-loon, who dumps bags of bread crumbs for their pigeon friends. Us? We preferred the squirrels. And now that we're living again in a country where squirrels are aplenty, we can't help feeling a little thrill to see the Faery get excited when she spies a squirrel. Bring it on!


  1. I was exactly the same the first time I ventured into Central Park and spotted one. For me, it was more the Americana side of it - squirrels feel very American and very New York. So that just floated my boat BIG time when I was a tween and seeing one for the first time.

    And visiting New York again as an adult, nothing had changed. Still loving the squirrel.

    And as for your experience in Regent's Park, I guess a squirrel knows a bag of nuts when he sees one.....

  2. It's funny - I've never had the association between squirrels and America specifically. Just squirrels and anywhere not Australian!

    Yes, that squirrel in Regent's Park chose well :)

  3. Well, I was definately excited when I saw your pics (being someone who at 34 is still yet to see one in person) and the image you conjoured up in my head of sitting on the bench feeding the squirrels, made me think of you as Amy Adams in Enchanted singing "How Does She Know You Love Her"...

  4. Oh Jen! I'm anything like Amy Adams in Enchanted, but it's a very cute image and I'm flattered.

    However, if I really sang in a park, birds would drop dead from the sky. I'm sure of it.

  5. Oops. Meant to say NOT anything like Amy Adams...

  6. When my older daughter was very young, she used to walk through the park near our house and hunt for large pine cones. We would carry them home, fashion a hook with wrapped-around wire, and then slather the whole thing with peanut butter. And then these sticky monstrosities would get hung from the railing of our deck.

    My daughter would sit for hours and watch the squirrels frolic and play and hang upside down and messily eat the peanut butter.

    So many lovely memories of those feisty bossy creatures.

    Thanks for reminding me.


  7. What a great idea! My eldest is also into collecting pine cones, so I might have to suggest this to her.