This year John Lewis' Christmas advert featuring a troop of woodland creatures bouncing on a child's trampoline reminded me of a stoat that often has a cheeky flip on my garden furniture.
The John Lewis ad, which stars CGI images of a badger, a fox and a hedgehog taking a turn on a child’s brand new trampoline on Christmas Eve, was a huge hit when it debuted on TV last week. But I filmed this stoat leaping and bounding across the trampoline in my garden last year.
And in fact there is a family of wild stoats that regularly bounce on the cabbage netting stretched over the vegetable patch - they prefer this to the trampoline!! I got these fantastic photographs of one of the stoat's leaping.
My footage dates back to last winter when I noticed tracks in a fresh fall of snow on the children’s trampoline. I was fascinated that these animals appeared to have been playing on the garden furniture so I trained a camera trap on the scene. It caught one of the stoats bouncing on my daughters' trampoline.
After that I began watching the stoats more carefully and discovered that these animals were also bouncing on the cabbage netting I had stretched over the vegetable patch. They were clearly enjoying themselves. Jumping and even doing flips! I think they preferred the buoyancy of the cabbage netting to the trampoline.”
I’m not sure whether the makers of the John Lewis realise that this can actually happen! But of course it is very difficult to capture animals at play like this in reality.”
I like to watch wildlife for my painting subjects closely so that I can follow every muscle change accurately. These pictures gave me a really good insight into how agile and supple these creatures are. Take a look at the paintings I went on to produce.