Welcome my website.
Here you can find out a little more about my past, what working on at the moment and what my plans are.
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You can contact me on any natural history subject, request a Walk & Talk or purchase photographs and books.
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'Fifty years with a camera'
Fishing, foraging and nature watching
"By coincidence, the subtitle of a book
Steve wrote for his daughter.
This extraordinary fellow's journey through Britain, and indeed life, is an inspiration.
From press, radio and television to
photo exhibitions to guided walks & talks.
If you want to know Steve, take a moment to
read a few clips from his book,
'Source to Sea'
the cover of which, is the background photo
on this page."
Michael J. Loates Artist/Illustrator
I was born in Brighton, southern England, but as an adult in 1987 I moved north to the
Cumbrian Lake District after reading a book called 'Nature Detective' - by Hugh Fulkus.
The legendary fellow and I met shortly after my arrival by complete accident, we were both in Cockermouth post office at the same time buying a Salmon & Sea Trout Licence.
I subsequently spent twelve years exploring a totally different world to the one I grew up in,
and on my return to Sussex I was compelled to record just about all of it in a book;
'Source to Sea' and three other smaller works.
Occasionally I take a fish for supper but use my camera to 'catch' fish now!
My good friend, wild life Artist Michael Loates, and a work college, film writer Anita Ward said, after listening to countless tales of adventure; " For goodness sake write a book!"
'Micky' very generously helped by illustrating my book with his paintings,
famous in their own right in the well known publications;
Collins 'FISH' of Britain and Europe
and the reprint of Henry Williamson's 'Salar the Salmon', to name just two.
I hope you might like what I have written and what I aim to do here with this website.
I very much look forward to meeting new friends, naturalists and like minded people. SJH
This is my Grandfather on my mother's side, Harold Victor Mason
with a very large flatfish he caught in Newhaven Harbour c1950
He was known to most as 'Billie' a name given to him by his friend Rudyard Kipling who thought him, his diminutive size and his
story of being lost in a far away land, was like that of the character Billie Fish in Kipling's tale ' The man who would be King.'
During WWII he was stationed in Africa and spent 2 years with an
indigenous group of nomadic Pigmies who taught him to hunt, forage and be part of nature responsibly and sustainably.
Thereafter he always wore a suit and tie when fishing to remind himself to be as respectful as possible when taking the life of
another creature in order to feed himself and his family.
When I was just 10 years Grandad woke me very early one morning to go look for a legendary Pike with sharp pointy teeth that lived in the stream beyond the woods, across the sugar beet field, at the back of his house in Bognor Regis.
What I was about to experience was completely new to me, another world that I had no idea existed, it changed my life and made me who I am today.
I dressed as fast as I could and we passed through the back door and into the 4am darkness of a summer's dawn. The air was heavy with scents of damp earth, wet grass and honeysuckle blossom; and all enveloped by a cathedral of bird song.
"Talk if you must" he said. "but in a whisper or you'll l break the spell of the magic hour."
I stood speechless for a moment.
"Don't just listen to things, 'hear them' and don't just look at things, 'see' them" he said.
Those words were etched into my mind.
We crossed the field towards the trees under a dark royal blue star studded sky.
The woodland floor was almost the same! A carpet of Bluebells studded with white anemones. "Roll your feet gently as you walk so as not to make a sound" he said;
"Slowly slowly, catch ye monkey"
The sky had lightened a little and my eyes adjusted as we reached the far side of the wood.
Out in the water meadow yet another fantastic scene. A sea of ground mist, purply pink from the coming sunrise. Cows, seemingly with no legs, 'floating' on the mist. The moment is still hard to describe but at the time I said it all by just facial expression to Grandad, those same facial expressions he later taught me to use if I wanted to stop a Fox in it's tracks for a while.
He paused, then nodded for me to look to my left, a fence post not ten feet away, it had eyes!
A fabulous barn owl sat there, almost a part of the sun bleached wood, it's eyes staring straight into my brain. It turned, leaned forward and dropped, with wings open, into the pink 'sea' and outward, the tips of its wings flicking up little spirals of the mist. My life was changed forever.
We never did see the giant Pike but I think that might just have been a trick
to lure that little boy me, out of my bed.
In the late 80's I went on an adventure to the Cumbrian Lake District, I stayed for 12 years and still have so much unfinished exploring that I need another life,
or perhaps an assistant?
Fairy Glen, Stonethwaite beck, Cumbria.
It's in that first valley on the left of the page background photo, and by the way, the fish I'm carrying is a non native Rainbow trout that caught on purpose to stop it eating the wee native brown trout.
I risked my life for the photo above of a wild Atlantic Salmon, plunging fully clothed into the ice cold water in December but I just had to get that picture!
Not a typical day by anyone's standards but this is how I spend most of my time, sometimes just a short distance from other folk but seeing things that might as well be a thousand miles away from them.
I now live back in Sussex where I was born, and have settled in Lewes next to
the Railway Land Nature reserve by the River Ouse.
Half way between Lewes and the sea at Newhaven, is an old swing bridge
at Southease in the Southdowns National Park. I spend a lot of time here with my camera.
Here's a little winter movie from there.
Below is my CV which I hope will prompt you to continue exploring my site but first let me tell you how
I came to take out folk on guided Walks.
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While chatting to a young boy recently
about the things I know, he asked;
"Who taught you all that stuff?"
Referring to my Grandad, I replied;
"An old man taught me, a long time ago."
"How long ago was that?" asked the boy.
"About 40 yrs ago." I replied
"Well, now you're the old man!" He said.
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It hit me like a brick, he was right.
I then set about teaching others about the wonderful
things that I had in my memory bank.
Steve's Walks & Talks were born.