PETER Hanscomb’s successful blog owes its existence to his wife, Anne - and a time of terrible adversity.

“Two years ago my wife went into hospital with what was deemed to be a cosmetic operation,” said Peter.

“She basically had a lump on her neck and it had come up to about the size of a golf ball.

“She had gone to see the doctor and the doctor said it was benign and nothing to worry about – but they’d take it away because it was on her neck and didn’t look very good.

“Once they removed it and did the biopsy it turned out to be parotid gland cancer. It came as quite a bit of a shock to us when the doctor said, ‘It’s cancer, you need to go to Oxford, you need to have chemo, radiation,’ - the whole lot.

“Fortunately it didn’t get that far because – by chance – the cosmetic surgeon who performed the original operation had taken out three or four millimetres more than he needed to, and that was enough of a buffer, if you like, that the cancer hadn’t spread.

“So my wife was very, very lucky. But one of the things she did, almost as a self-therapy because she found it difficult to talk about, was start a blog, just to write down how she was feeling. She found it therapeutic to get the words out that she couldn’t say to me or to her mum.

“She started writing it back in April of 2017, and she said to me, ‘Whilst I’m doing this, why don’t you put your photographs on a blog?’

“That was basically the birth of wildonline.

“It really was from a dark period and just blossomed from there.”

The blog consists of images captured by Peter and other photographers, nature notes from the local area and elsewhere in Britain by Peter and several other contributors, observations and advice. A recent post, for example cautioned against mistaking young hares for abandoned baby rabbits.

By the end of 2017, there had been 111,000 visits. Last year there were 571,000 and so far this year there have been 330,000.

By 10am on the day of his interview with the Adver, there had been nearly 2,000 visitors from Britain, two from Pakistan and one each from the Netherlands, India and the US.

Since 2017 there have been visitors from all but 20 of the planet’s countries and sovereign states.

Peter, whose day job is with a builders’ merchant, puts much of the blog’s success down to a basic, informative yet lively no-nonsense style.

He has had cameras for most of his adult life, but his interest gradually intensified.

“The photography really took off about four years ago. I’m looking to retire in a couple of years from the day job, and was looking for a project to keep me busy – something to get my teeth into.

“I bought a DSLR, than a better DSLR. Then I upgraded them and upgraded them again, and I’ve upgraded them again since.

“Like most people who get a camera, to start off with it was anything and everything, but within six or seven months of doing it as a hobby I realised wildlife was my first love – to the point, now, when I don’t take the camera out unless it’s wildlife.

“I think it’s the peace, the quiet, being out on my own with nature. I’m not a prolific photographer.

“I can quite easily walk around there for five or six hours in the morning and not take a single shot. It’s quality of shot rather than quantity for me.

“More is not necessarily more. It’s all about the moment.”

The blog reflects his profound belief that while addressing major environmental concerns such as the state of our oceans is vital, being environmentally conscious on a smaller scale is also very important. This can mean something as simple as making small holes in garden fences to allow hedgehogs to wander.

“Once people start caring at that level, they’re not going to throw away their plastics; they’re not going to use a car instead of walking.

“If you think of the open spaces we’ve got in Swindon, everywhere you go, you’re five minutes’ walk from a decent green space. They’re all teeming with wildlife and we could just give them a bit of a leg-up.”

The blog can be found at