A YOUTH spent at a Canadian lake was the inspiration for vet Bruce Fogle's love of nature, he told an audience at the Swindon Festival of Literature yesterday.

The father of TV adventurer Ben gave a talk about his book, Barefoot at the Lake, at the Arts Centre on day two of the 22nd annual festival.

The book focuses on the summer of 1954 when he visited the family cottage at Lake Chemong in Ontario, Canada.

The author, aged 10 in the book, discovered the great outdoors with the guidance of his loved ones, particularly his uncle Rube, who gave him the nickname 'beast ranger' during that period of his life.

Bruce still visits the cottage with his family and several generations celebrated the 100th birthday of the writer's mother last year, shortly before her death.

The vet, who is chairman of the Humane Society International, doesn't believe it is necessary to have an upbringing like his to develop a love of animals and the world around us.

He said: "You can be raised in an urban environment but as long as you have good parents and a forward-thinking school you'll develop an interest."

Bruce has lived in England for 45 years and initially worked at Regent Park Zoo when he came to our shores.

Matt Holland, Swindon Festival of Literature director, was fascinated by Bruce's talk.

He said: "It is something quite profound that a story about someone else's life can transport you somewhere completely different on a windy Wednesday afternoon in Swindon.

"I loved Bruce's event as it is an example that the Swindon Festival of Literature doesn't just focus on a standard novelist, a known politician or comedian. We like anyone who can tell a story and we are proud of welcoming Bruce."

The writer answered questions from the venue's crowd and also signed copies of his works.

Other acts who appeared at the festival, yesterday, included Jung Chang, Mark Everard, Patrick Gayle and Eve McBride.

Today, writers Robert Crawford and Tony Hawks will be appearing at the Arts Centre with Rosie Macgregor giving at talk at Central Library.

One of the events which Matt is most looking forward to, Anna Whitham’s talk about her book, Boxer Handsome, with trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick, is being held at the Arts Centre at 8pm tonight.

Matt said: “It should be a fascinating event reflecting on what drives boxers and the respect among competitors.

“It is an usual event for the festival but one I’m very much looking forward to.”

For more information about the full programme and ticket information visit www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk