Author and TV star Ben back in ‘favourite town’

Ben Fogle visits Bookmark in Spalding.
Ben Fogle visits Bookmark in Spalding.
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BEN Fogle’s arrival in Spalding to promote his latest book was no accident – the town was at the top of his list of places to visit.

Fans eagerly awaited his arrival at Bookmark in The Crescent on Monday evening while he chatted in the garden of the Cley Hall Hotel about being “The Accidental Naturalist”.

This was Ben’s fourth visit to the town. He said: “This is my most frequent stop on any book tour and it’s partly because they do such a good job here.

“Having done ten years of book tours, it can be fun, but it is work and you kind of learn as you go which places put on the best events and have the greatest crowds.

“If you are to be completely mercinary you find out where you sell the most books and Spalding always comes up as one of the best events really.

“It’s a lovely bookshop with really nice people and I’ve always enjoyed the event, so it’s always a specific request on my part to come to Spalding.”

Whereas his last book, The Accidental Adventurer, was more of a documented account of the experiences that have put him in the public eye, he bares his soul in his latest offering.

Ben said: “I guess they are kind of memoirs. Since I have been travelling so much and doing so many different projects I felt I was in danger of forgetting times and places. I wanted to keep a written record of what I’ve done.

“The spine of the book is my dog Inca, my late dog Inca, who I very sadly had to put down a few weeks ago and she’s been pretty significant in my life, as have dogs full stop – growing up with a father who was a vet, my parents met over their dogs and I met my wife over our dogs.

“Writing about Inca was very painful as you can imagine. It was terrible timing and brilliant timing, in that I have an amazing eulogy for her and an amazing tribute.

“I think a lot of people hide their emotions or are a bit embarrassed about admitting how sad they were. But I think anyone that reads the book will know what a significant part she was in my life and certainly writing that was the hardest thing I’ve had to write. There is no way I could read that now.”

Although the book focuses on the natural world, he says it holds no particular message. He said: “I hope people come away from it having had just a jolly good read and realising what an amazing planet we live on with such an amazing and eclectic mix of animals from which you can learn a huge amount.”

With the “most memorable and frightening” experiences in his book being with crocodiles in Africa and Australia, he has a few words of encouragement for any students in Spalding who have not made the grades they needed this summer and think a life of adventure like Ben’s as an impossible dream.

He said: “I think we put too much pressure on results. We are all individuals. Some people are stronger academically, some people are stronger artistically, some people are stronger musically.

“It completely varies. Certainly me – I was very lucky, my parents were able to send me to private school and I still did badly in my exams. And that wasn’t because I was off partying all the time, that was because I was never particularly strong.

“It just goes to show it is down to who you are in many cases. If you are determined enough and you want something enough you can achieve it somehow– by hook or by crook.

“So I would say to anyone that hasn’t met the grades and feels dispondent, you just have to get back up and carry on and not feel that the whole world has collapsed around you.”

Hanging on Ben’s every word at Bookmark were members of a Spalding women’s group. When asked why she was there, Jill Chapman of Further Old Gate, Whaplode, asked her friend, “Why are we here?”

At that point Ben walked by to start his talk ahead of the signing and the looks across the room said it all.

The “Accidental Naturalist” had unearthed some other animal instincts in the heart of Spalding that he hadn’t written about.