Feb 04

Nick Baker

February 10th NICK BAKER – “FOR THE LOVE OF BUGS – BIG ADVENTURES IN A SMALL WORLD”. A fun, humorous and yet informative journey into the world and life of a bug enthusiast. Nick the ‘bug man’ enjoys telling stories of these much misunderstood creatures’ lives and is a full time broadcaster on the subject of wildlife and natural history, presenting many popular shows for television and radio. Sponsored by MARK MOBILITY CENTRE, Holland-on-Sea.

Nick BakerNick is an amateur naturalist who remains in a state of perplexity at the fact he cannot really use that title anymore. He has somehow turned a childhood passion for living things into a livelihood and therefore really should be described as a professional naturalist.  All the same, to this day, he continues doing what he did when he was ten years old …  and he has no intention of stopping!

The proto-naturalist made himself known  as soon as he could crawl. It all started off in a fairly normal manner with  little to worry about the boy who collected small and unfortunate creatures like spiders, ladybirds, frogs and toads and stuffed them into jam jars, tanks, buckets and ice-cream tubs. It is, after all, a healthy occupation for an eight-year-old.

“there was little to worry about the boy who collected small and unfortunate creatures like spiders, ladybirds, frogs and toads and stuffed them into jam jars”

His natural curiosity with the world around him, and an obsession with stocking his jam jar zoo, did make him unpopular with his parents, as he spent much time continuously over turning rockeries and trampling his mum’s prize nasturtiums in the endless pursuit of new specimens.  Little did they know, his poor suffering parents had other horrors to come. Their  curious little naturalist underwent a metamorphosis into a full blown adolescent, with not only spots and dodgy dress sense, but also some fairly unwholesome and socially taboo hobbies.

On the positive side, the butterfly house that he had constructed with his hard earned paper round money was a   pleasant talking point at coffee mornings.

The darker side involved behaviour harder to explain; disappearing into the woods at night to be with badgers and foxes, boiling up skulls and skeletons for a growing collection, pots of owl   pellets, otter droppings, bones and shells on shelves, turning his bedroom into a walk through moth trap (by leaving all the lights on and opening the windows!) and a clandestine production line of tarantula and silk moths under the bed and   in the wardrobe.

Things haven’t really changed all that much; he’s a little bigger and uglier but still doing much the same thing, albeit with a little more kindness directed toward his subjects. Scared of being left alone in these   pursuits he now spends quite a lot of time and effort trying to get the new generation of potential naturalists to do much the same!
Finding that the   education system didn’t really know what to do with him he bumbled through   school picking up his GCSE’S and A levels and struggling with most subjects   unless they involved living things or pencils and paints. He did apply his passion to the nature table turning it into a small Natural History museum and used, and to an extent abused, his ability to pick up spiders and worms to keep   himself off the bottom of the school playground food chain!  He doesn’t care   much for numbers, and English was never an easy subject (a fact that is made   more ludicrous by the fact he has now published eight books!)

Popping out of   the rear end of his A levels he still didn’t really have a clue what to do with   himself so he left his Sussex home and headed for the West Country and the University of Exeter. This was really a way for him to bide his time   academically while deciding which particular discipline in the world of wildlife   was suitable for him.
By 1993 he had achieved lots; he learned to play   Harmonica and sing (for that read shout), grew his hair so he could sit on it,   smelt of patchouli oil, had his ear pierced and developed a penchant for weird   clothes from second hand shops.

By the end of 1993 he was gigging with various Jazz, Blues, Skiffle, Rock and Funk bands around the Exeter area and so   it came as a surprise to all who knew him when he walked away with some kind of   half decent biology degree.  As well as almost accidentally getting the said   degree he also had an epiphany around about the same time.

Whilst at the   University of Exeter he met Dr. Clive Betts, who needed a willing slave to help   him get an educational youth project off the ground for the Royal Entomological   Society of London. This was known at the time as the Y.E.S (Young Entomologists   Scheme) but later metamorphosed into a slightly funkier “Bug Club”, which is still running to this day. He will be forever grateful for this opportunity.   He took over the university greenhouses to breed stick insects and other exotica for shows and school tours but it was also here that he discovered his extrovert   side – until now in life he had been a rather shy and meek geek

Nick is an amateur naturalist who remains in a state   of perplexity at the fact he cannot really use that title anymore. He has   somehow turned a childhood passion for living things into a livelihood and   therefore really should be described as a professional naturalist.  All the   same, to this day, he continues doing what he did when he was ten years old … and he has no intention of stopping!

The proto-naturalist made himself known   as soon as he could crawl. It all started off in a fairly normal manner with   little to worry about the boy who collected small and unfortunate creatures like   spiders, ladybirds, frogs and toads and stuffed them into jam jars, tanks,   buckets and ice-cream tubs. It is, after all, a healthy occupation for an eight-year-old.

“there was little to worry about the boy who collected   small and unfortunate creatures like spiders, ladybirds, frogs and toads and   stuffed them into jam jars”

His natural curiosity with the world around him, and   an obsession with stocking his jam jar zoo, did make him unpopular with his   parents, as he spent much time continuously over turning rockeries and trampling   his mum’s prize nasturtiums in the endless pursuit of new specimens.                     Little   did they know, his poor suffering parents had other horrors to come. Their   curious little naturalist underwent a metamorphosis into a full blown   adolescent, with not only spots and dodgy dress sense, but also some fairly   unwholesome and socially taboo hobbies.

On the positive side, the butterfly   house that he had constructed with his hard earned paper round money was a   pleasant talking point at coffee mornings.

The darker side involved behaviour   harder to explain; disappearing into the woods at night to be with badgers and   foxes, boiling up skulls and skeletons for a growing collection, pots of owl   pellets, otter droppings, bones and shells on shelves, turning his bedroom into   a walk through moth trap (by leaving all the lights on and opening the windows!)   and a clandestine production line of tarantula and silk moths under the bed and   in the wardrobe.

Things haven’t really changed all that much; he’s a little   bigger and uglier but still doing much the same thing, albeit with a little more   kindness directed toward his subjects. Scared of being left alone in these   pursuits he now spends quite a lot of time and effort trying to get the new   generation of potential naturalists to do much the same!
Finding that the   education system didn’t really know what to do with him he bumbled through   school picking up his GCSE’S and A levels and struggling with most subjects   unless they involved living things or pencils and paints. He did apply his   passion to the nature table turning it into a small Natural History museum and   used, and to an extent abused, his ability to pick up spiders and worms to keep   himself off the bottom of the school playground food chain!         He doesn’t care   much for numbers, and English was never an easy subject (a fact that is made   more ludicrous by the fact he has now published eight books!

Popping out of   the rear end of his A levels he still didn’t really have a clue what to do with   himself so he left his Sussex home and headed for the West Country and the   University of Exeter. This was really a way for him to bide his time   academically while deciding which particular discipline in the world of wildlife   was suitable for him.
By 1993 he had achieved lots; he learned to play   Harmonica and sing (for that read shout), grew his hair so he could sit on it,   smelt of patchouli oil, had his ear pierced and developed a penchant for weird   clothes from second hand shops.

By the end of 1993 he was gigging with   various Jazz, Blues, Skiffle, Rock and Funk bands around the Exeter area and so   it came as a surprise to all who knew him when he walked away with some kind of   half decent biology degree.         As well as almost accidentally getting the said   degree he also had an epiphany around about the same time.

Whilst at the   University of Exeter he met Dr. Clive Betts, who needed a willing slave to help   him get an educational youth project off the ground for the Royal Entomological   Society of London. This was known at the time as the Y.E.S (Young Entomologists   Scheme) but later metamorphosed into a slightly funkier “Bug Club”, which is   still running to this day.         He will be forever grateful for this opportunity.   He took over the university greenhouses to breed stick insects and other exotica   for shows and school tours but it was also here that he discovered his extrovert   side – until now in life he had been a rather shy and meek geek.

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