Thursday, 23 May 2013

A year spent in a wild water garden in the Cotswolds


The cherry tree over the River Frome that flows past my parents' house.


The lake in April, when I was first ill.


And in June when I still felt no better.


But the garden was blooming.


High summer when the teasels are in flower, as are the sweet peas.





September, with the first cold mornings.


October, and I was still ill.

The first frosts.

The first snow.


Mid winter.

A year I will never forget.

Filming our tame otters

Daphne Neville

Filming with otters is never easy. You can imagine what happened 0.05 seconds after this photograph was taken. On the other hand, our tame otters will spend ages drying off after a swim.

Daphne Neville


The easiest way to photograph our Asian short-clawed otters is when they are elevated in some way. Rudi is good at climbing but will descend with caution as he is not built to jump.

Often the script calls for an otter to be swimming underwater. Whilst this is possible it takes a long time to capture a sequence. A whole day was needed to take one underwater photograph for the scene in The Waterbabies. Here the little boy playing Tom is letting a young otter smell his hand. 

Setting up a shoot with one of the otters for 'The Waterbabies'

Much depends on the confidence of the actors appearing with the animals. Whilst Belinda is completely relaxed in my father's arms, she remains a wild creature and it takes her time to get used to strangers.

Martin Neville with Belinda the Otter ~ photo: Daphne Neville

This little girl who appeared in the drama series 'The Secret of Eel Island' was wonderful with the otters.

Photo Daphne Neville



Many of the scenes were set on a houseboat which worked well as they could not jump off it and there was no chance for them to off run into the woods.

Belinda the Otter in 'The Secret of Eel Island': photo ~ Daphne Neville

Oddly our otters don't like swimming in our lake. I think Adam Henson must have lost one here.

Adam Henson filming in the otter's lake

No, he was after a pig.

Adam Henson filming in the otter's lake

At least you can carry an otter about and hold one in your arms.

Sophie Neville

To read more ~ click here

Friday, 17 May 2013

More about our tame otters who appear in 'Funnily Enough'

Sophie Neville tame otters

We still keep two tame otters at home in the Cotswolds. Bee and Jims who appear in 'Funnily Enough' passed on some time ago but Belinda and Rudi are just as delightful. Belinda is the tamest otter we have ever kept. Here she is, sitting on Mum's shoulder.

Belinda the Otter

Rudi is exceptionally energetic, a real climber.


Belinda is now fourteen, which is a great age for an otter. Their life expectancy in the wild is only about eight years at the maximum.


They are in good condition and eating very well - on a diet consisting of raw trout, day-old chicks and rare beef - but as a result must be the fattest otters you have ever seen.




Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Casting for the new film adaptation of 'Swallows and Amazons'


Sophie Neville with Swallow
Sophie Neville with Swallow on Coniston Water, Cumbria

Nick Barton of Harbour Pictures, in collaboration with BBC Films, is planning to make a new adaptation of  Swallows and Amazons this summer - 2015. They hope it will be akin to the Harry Potter movies or the Chronicles of Narnia.

I joined him and his wife on the first recce to the Lake District, staying at Bank Ground Farm, sailing Swallow on Coniston Water and taking a boat trip down Lake Windermere. He has been looking for locations with his Director, who has been busy working on the new script written by Andrea Gibb. 

If you want to know what it was like to be in the film made back in 1973 ~ click here: http://sophieneville.net/category/autobiography/


A video of Theatre Projects filming Swallows & Amazons in 1973

Saturday, 4 May 2013

iBelieve, the Christian lifestyle magazine full of interesting testimonies




I was dazzelled to find that this month 'Funnily Enough' is being included alongside feature articles on such great Christian authors as Joyce Meyer, Nicky Gumbel and Sarah de Carvahlo



And there is an hilarious cartoon of me, looking GLAMOROUS and organised.
I'm always packing things up for the post but never this neatly.


For two issues of iBelieve please click here
To subscribe to iBelieve please click here.