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  • Hazel Prior

The Promise of Penguins

Welcome to Hazel's Penguin Blog!

And if, by any chance, you've read my second book, you'll know why I've called it that!

I'm about to embark on an adventure. Soon I'll be walking among penguins, in the wild, in their thousands. Penguins in many different shapes and sizes. Baby penguins, too! How excited am I?

Very, very excited!

Why Penguins?

Over recent years I've spent an unusual amount of time thinking about penguins. This was because my publisher (Penguin!) had accepted my first novel and wanted me to write another... And it occurred to me that a novel centred around penguins might be rather lovely. My great friend, Ursula, also inspired me hugely with her own amazing penguin mission, accompanying photographs and her traveller's tales of penguin-spotting around the world. So I got thinking, I got researching and I got writing.

That novel, set mainly in Antarctica, ended up being so successful that I wrote a sequel, also featuring penguins, this time set in Antarctica, Scotland, Australia, Canada and the Falklands! Well, it was lockdown and I needed to get out and about, if only in my imagination. Yet more research, yet more obsessing about penguins...

... But I've actually only ever seen penguins in Torquay...

... Which is very far from their natural habitat.

This is Yoyo, a macaroni penguin, resident at Living Coasts Sea Life Centre. He was very helpful with the research, and he also approved of the book when it was finished.

(photo copyright: Wild Planet Trust)

How desperate am I, now, to see penguins in the wild?

Very, very desperate!

Hence the big plan.

Where, who and how?

You might think Antarctica's the destination, but no. Wonderful though it is, I feel it's one place on the planet that should belong to wildlife and remain as untouched by humans as possible. The Falklands, I knew, would do the trick. They're the home of five different species of penguin, plus plenty of other wildlife such as albatrosses, herons, petrels, seals and sea lions. The scenery is stunning too.

I hadn't mentioned my idea to anyone, but soon after it had begun to permeate, Ursula, over a cup of tea, happened to say: "I'm longing to go back to The Falklands." What a stroke of serendipity! Well, as you can imagine, I pounced on the comment. And the idea suddenly started hurtling towards reality.

We'll be going together, flying south with the MOD, who kindly let civilians use their spare plane seats. It's been a mad flurry of activity: obtaining Covid passes, downloading apps, buying travel neck pillows and waterproof trousers, trying to locate suitcases. This is my first holiday in seven years and, to be honest, I can't quite remember how it's done. Luckily my travelling companion is an expert!

I'm hoping to be able to share penguin-populated posts with you throughout the trip, but it will, of course depend on Wifi connections and exhaustion levels. But sooner or later you'll be seeing a plethora of penguins on here. So watch this space!

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