I need to start with a quick confession. As a writer, interviewing people is probably the part of my job that I love the most. You never know what surprises await particularly when meeting face-to-face. On paper there might be slim pickings – but once you start to unravel the back-story it’s often fascinating.

It was with some trepidation however that I hooked-up with Steve Hewlett in his home town of Basingstoke. This rising star in the world of ventriloquism (and a finalist on last year’s Britain’s Got Talent no less) is currently on his first national tour. Automatonophobia aka the fear of anything that falsely represents a sentient being – including but not exclusively ventriloquist dummies, put me on the back foot immediately. But I needn’t have worried, Steve’s tales of treading the boards, working the holiday camps and end of the pier shows, and of one day seeing his name in lights at The London Palladium was completely enthralling. And by the time the much celebrated ‘little’ Simon Cowell eventually emerged from a trunk, even I was happy to share a handshake.  So thanks Steve, and good luck with the rest of the Thinking Inside the Box tour.

Someone else who is probably looking forward to spreading his wings is artist Stephen Turner. Not that he isn’t well travelled, but for the past nine months Stephen’s been holed-up on the Exbury River as part of a year-long residency. As many (with good reason) bemoaned the wettest of wet winters spare a thought for life inside a wooden egg. Stephen’s own blog continues to sum up the whole experience beautifully and hopefully will pick-up a few more followers now that my feature on this extraordinary man is in print (Hampshire Life March 2014).

Perhaps though with spring upon us and the rains abating we can finally all spend a bit more time outdoors. Last year, a morning spent on a foraging workshop at the Sustainability Centre was a revelation, but there’s plenty in nature’s larder wherever you live. The latest editions of Baby Surrey, Baby Hampshire, and Baby London have more.