Farewell to Fran Freelove, the Queen of the Quizzes

Fran Freelove with her cat Toby

Dear Readers, I wanted to share with you the sad news of the death of one of the blog’s most regular contributors, Fran Freelove. For anyone who did my weekly quizzes, Fran and Bobby Freelove were the ones to beat, and very rarely was this accomplished, even though for the past six years Fran has been undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.

Fran and Bobby were sisters, but her son Antony told me that it was actually Fran who normally did the quizzes. Her range of knowledge was astonishing – everything from plants and insects to songs and birdcalls were all taken in her stride. She was always generous to anyone who did manage to beat her, although this was a rare occurrence indeed.

But there was so much more to Fran than her knowledge of the natural world. Although we never met, I always thought of Fran as a kindred spirit. We agreed on so much. Here is Fran writing about the foxes in her garden, for example:

We’re extremely lucky to have three, Betty, Bass and BonBon, we haven’t seen our fourth one, Stump ( he only had half of his brush) for quite some time. They do get fed and they’re very good at time keeping! We have cameras so we can watch them, it’s quite amusing the antics they get up to. With their mortality rate being so high we must do all we can to look after these beautiful creatures.

Like me, she was often horrified at the way that people treated the natural world, and enjoyed trying to make things better. And how I loved her sense of humour too!

You are so right Bugwoman. We too have collected rubbish for the nearly four years on our daily walks, we hate to see our beautiful countryside spoilt by other peoples thoughtlessness. If everyone just did a little bit wouldn’t it be a nicer place.
We’re always surprised about the number of Red Bull cans, it obviously doesn’t ‘give them wings’ enough to put them in a bin. Litter picking can be quite therapeutic we find.

And here is Fran, feeding her extremely lucky tadpoles…

We feed ours with the tadpole foods you can get, early and late stage, quite expensive but they seem to like it. When they come up to feed don’t you just love their little faces. 😀

And she and Bobby had different opinions about frogs:

You have touched on one of my most favourite subjects, frogs. Whilst i read your post avidly it has to be said Bobby was the total opposite, they give her the heebie jeebies. During the season i often get a phone call with her panicking at the end of the phone because she’s found one in her garden. While she actually locks herself in her house i have to go and rescue the little treasure and take it back to my pond, good job we only live four doors apart. I think they are the most amazing little creatures so i never mind adopting yet another one. My pond is right under my bedroom window and the sound some nights of the frogs singing is wonderful.

We had the same attitude to pesticides too.

We totally agree with Anne on the use of pesticides, we would not dream of using them, and we’re lucky enough to have foxes and hedgehogs as well as a vast array of birds. Our gardens are healthy and full to brimming. As we’ve said before, everything is here for a reason.

Fran had been commenting on the blog since 2017, but the first time that she even mentioned that she was undergoing treatment for cancer was in 2020.

We too very much enjoy your posts. It’s so important to be involved with nature, i’ve (Fran), been battling cancer and am now, after two major ops, masses of radiotherapy now in fortnightly chemotherapy. To be outside is so important surrounded by all the lovely things, we so love our walks and it definitely helps take your mind off things.

And I mustn’t forget to mention Fran’s faithful cat Toby. Here is Fran talking about her cat.

They truly are one of the best companions, throughout my illness there are days when i have to spend days in bed, he will not leave my side and lies on the bed with me even on lovely sunny days when i know he’d much rather be outside.

Between 2018 and 2020, I had seen the decline and death of both my parents, and Fran was such a comfort to me, even though she was going through surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy herself. She was such a kind and generous woman, and I will always be grateful for her insight and empathy. Here is Fran after I posted about Mum and Dad going into a nursing home:

You have done this purely for the right reason and that is the welfare of your parents. You have always done everything possible for them so you have absolutely nothing to reproach yourself about. We remember when our father went for respite care for a while what a huge weight it was off our shoulders to know someone was there 24-7 for his needs. I’m sure your mum will soon adapt to her new surroundings and it sounds like your dad will be fine. We wish you and your parents all the very best and we’re sure we’re safe in saying so does everyone who reads your post and feels like they have been on this journey with you.

And here is Fran after my Mum’s death in 2018.

We were so very sad to hear of your mother’s passing. A difficult time for you and your dad but a gentle release for her. Your mum will still be with you, just in different ways, you have some wonderful memories to look back on which we know will help you through the coming times. take care xx

A blog is a strange thing. I never met Fran, and yet my world was always a happier place knowing that she was in it. My dream when I started Bugwoman was that it would create an online community of people who cared about the natural world wherever they lived, and Fran was so much part of that. I’d like the finish with the first comment that she ever made on the blog, back in 2017. I would have loved to have Fran and Bobby as my actual neighbours too, but I will always think of Fran whenever I see a fox in the garden, or a frog in the pond. Farewell, my friend, and heartfelt condolences to Bobby, Fran’s sister, Antony, her son, and to her other family and friends. I am holding all of you in my heart.

Hello Bugwoman, my sister and i thought we must comment on your blogs, we found you quite by accident some while ago after i had major surgery. We adore everything to do with nature and wildlife and we can’t wait to read your brilliant blogs every week, so informative and you have such a lovely way with words. We walk every single day through our local woods whatever the weather and there is always something different to see. You sound so much like us we’d love you as a neighbour, Fran and Bobby.

10 thoughts on “Farewell to Fran Freelove, the Queen of the Quizzes

  1. Anonymous

    So sorry to read this post, she sounded an amazing caring lady and so knowledgeable about the natural world .

  2. Virginia

    Sad to hear this news. I loved seeing Fran and Bobby knew enough to get 10/10 in the quizzes, encouragement to try to learn more. Lovely reminders of her comments.

  3. jay53

    I’m so sorry to read this, it’s so hard to lose a friend, even those we have never met. And when you lose a kindred spirit the world seems to have dimmed a little. I’ve only just found your blog so I have never taken part in a quiz nor read Fran & Bobby’s comments, and now I feel that I have missed something special.

  4. Rosie Crook

    So very sorry to hear this. Fran’s comments showed a very knowledgeable, kind and empathetic person. Condolences to her family and to you Bugwoman. Rosie

  5. Ann Bronkhorst

    ‘Virtual family’ is a good description and yes, we will miss Fran and send condolences to her family and friends.

  6. Antony + Toby

    Thank you Bug Woman for this lovely tribute to my mum. I was in tears reading it. I knew she loved the blog, but didn’t know she was so chatty – so it’s wonderful reading her comments.

    And thank you to everyone for the lovely comments.

    Bobby has been touched by the article and all the comments too.

  7. Liz Norbury

    This is a wonderful tribute to someone who was clearly a wise and compassionate member of the Bugwoman family. I was moved by Fran’s description of the quiet steadfast companionship of her lovely ginger cat. What a lovely photo of them both.


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