The wild life with Monty Halls (and Reubs!)

The wild life with Monty Halls (and Reubs!)



22:27 GMT, 4 May 2012

After years of travelling the British Isles and beyond, Monty's finally decided to settle down

After years of travelling the British Isles and beyond, Monty's finally decided to settle down

All change! After years of travelling the British Isles and beyond, I’ve finally decided to settle down.

This isn’t a Great Escape as such, more of a dropping of the metaphorical anchor and a chucking away of the charts.

So it’s a new town, a new business, a new baby, a new season and a new life for me – and I’m going to be sharing it with you in this column every week.

Happily the town is Dartmouth, the
business is a shop peddling wildlife tours, the baby is bouncing in the
approved manner, the season is spring, and our new life is full of
promise. Myself, my girlfriend Tam, little Isla, and Reuben the dog are
all excited to be here (although Reubs tends to get excited about most

spent the past five years as a nomad, this is a big moment for me. From
Scotland to Ireland, Australia to Cornwall, my life seems to have
consisted of living out of a bag. I’ve been followed to these places by
the faithful hound (who feels, quite frankly, that as long as I’ve got a
tennis ball to throw I remain quite interesting), and of course Tam,
now complete with the bellowing bundle that is baby Isla.

But this is a good place to finally put down roots. It’s ridiculously beautiful down here at the moment. There’s that special first-whiff-of-the-summer-to-come thing going on, which we as a temperate nation appreciate more than most. And as the new boy in town I must say everyone has been very welcoming.

This is a vibrant little community
perched at the mouth of a steep, forested valley, with all life centred
around the estuary at its heart. This drifts lazily towards the ocean,
dissipating into the clear, cold sea water in the shadow of the castle
that stands sentinel looking out to a blue horizon. The river sets the
tone here, a meandering pulse that beats the slow rhythm of the change
of the tides.

It was very much in this community
spirit that I strolled across the park last week to join the nearby
lifeboat station as a volunteer. I duly chatted to Rob, the boss, who’s a
very nice man, but who told me I was too old. Crikey! I’m 45, and the
maximum age for a D Class boat is… 45. I hasten to add it’s older for
the larger boats, but for the smallest ones you need young joints it

On the move: Monty says Reubs tends to get excited about most things

On the move: Monty says Reubs tends to get excited about most things

The crew were all very hospitable indeed and, seeing my crestfallen expression as my very youth was dashed on the rocks before me, Rob said I could assist on shore. I am therefore being trained as stand-by tractor driver to get the boat in and out of the water.

My feelings on the RNLI are well known as I try to write about them whenever I can – they represent the very best of what we can be, volunteering to put themselves in harm’s way to save others. Did you know that last year the RNLI rescued or assisted 22 people a day around our shores No, I didn’t either. I’m honoured to be able to help out – I’ll just make sure I rev the tractor engine in a particularly impressive way for every launch.

The shop that will be our base looks great, although we’re still doing the last few bits and bobs to get it ready for opening. I’m hoping this will be the launch point for many adventures along the South Devon coast. As well as the vast array of bird life and the bustling shallow reefs, there’s also the prospect of encountering true giants – the basking sharks, dolphins, whales and seals that inhabit our seas. And let’s not forget being a new dad too – the greatest adventure of them all.

And so there’s much to talk about over the next few months, as the coastal waters warm, the countryside springs into life, and little baby Isla discovers the splendid reaction she gets when she twists one of the dog’s ears. I’ll keep you posted on it all – but for now I can’t quite believe we’ll soon be flipping the sign on our new life from ‘Closed’ to ‘Open’.