VIDEO: Stevenage teacher makes Grand National-themed squirrel assault course in Hitchin garden
- Credit: Archant
You wouldn’t expect to find fences made of kitchen scourers, ice-cream tubs or old welly boots at the Grand National, but that is exactly what you will find at the Hitchin Grand Nutional.
The Grand Nutional course, strung along a washing line, was created by teacher Steven Barley after he noticed squirrels raiding the bird food he put in his back garden in Lavender Way, Hitchin.
He wanted to make creatures work harder for their stolen treats and created the course during the half-term break last October.
During the week-long holiday he set up a camera and recorded black and grey squirrels carefully making their way along the line and over the obstacles to reach their prize – a bird feeder full of peanuts.
He then dubbed it the Grand Nutional, named the critters Lady Bobtail and Ninja Nutcase, and posted the results online last week.
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The 50-year-old, who has lived in Hitchin since 1996, said: “They are beautiful creatures and very agile.
“They are completely wild, I would never try and train them, they are just trying to get at the nuts.
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“I just love watching them and as it turns out, so do people on YouTube.”
His video has already been watched by over 27,000 people.
Steven, who teaches business studies and computing at The John Henry Newman School in Stevenage, has been making courses and videos in his garden since 2010.
He said: “My pupils love it. People online ask: ‘Who is the crackpot?’ but I don’t mind being known as that if it makes people laugh.
“Someone called me the Squirrel Man of Hitchin once, and the name seems to have stuck. As long as it makes people smile, that is what counts.”
During the winter the Grand Nutional is packed away in the shed, but Steven already has plans to build a new course, themed around squirrels and the movies in the spring.
He added: “We have a conservatory and we just sit in there and look out at what they are doing.
“It has always put a smile on my face and it brightens my day.”