James Bond Skyfall, and my frogs are ready for their close up.

Ok I know this is a nature blog, but one of my favourite natural places is currently a film set for the new James Bond film, so I can’t resist sticking in a few photos of the set they’ve built. First, though, my fabulous frogs.

There is still a lot of action occurring in the pond. On cool and cloudy days, it’s fairly quiet, but a mild day or a bit of sunshine brings the boys out in force, and the pond is a splashing, rippling vortex of heaving hopeful frogs. They don’t seem to mind my presence at all now, and they let me get really close to them today – I was almost touching them with the camera. I’m really pleased with the pictures; they’ve got such comical, characterful faces.

I often walk on Hankley common, a stunning expanse of heathland and conifer woods owned by the M.O.D. – it’s a great place to walk as long as you don’t mind avoiding the soldiers, T.A., cadets and their assorted vehicles, and stepping over lots of spent bullet cases. It’s been used quite a lot as a filming location over the years, and you can see why when you walk there; it’s really atmospheric. In early February I noticed a structure going up in the middle of the heath, and it’s been quite interesting to see how quickly they can make a plywood shell look like a manor house. There are now a few marquee structures by the army huts (where they filmed Tenko, for anyone old enough to remember that) for the catering and special effects depts, and they’re also building another structure quite away from the manor set. From a distance, the stone cladding looks perfectly realistic, despite being just an inch thick of coloured plaster. They start filming in around three weeks, apparently, so I’m assuming access to the area will then be restricted to prevent lots of people hoping that Daniel Craig will come careering through the heather in little tight swimming trunks walking their dogs nearby and getting in the way. I asked a site guy today how it is financially worthwhile to go to all the effort and expense of building a manor house – why don’t they just find a real one to use as a location? The answer, as it turns out, is simple: they’re going to blow it up. You heard it here first, folks.

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