30 years on… #walking

I remember it well. The whole landscape changed and we were surrounded by fallen trees and new lakes for weeks.



29 actually. In October 1987 southern England was struck by a hurricane. A Thursday night of carnage. One woman went outside fearing for her new VW and determined to put it safely in her garage. As she let up the door, one of those tip up jonnies, the wind gusted past her and lifted the roof off its fittings. That removed the structural security and the walls collapsed followed immediately by the now unsupported roof. She was left holding the door with nowhere for her VW and a large building bill.

2016-10-25-10-02-24 Knowle

I was in Peru as it happened, unaware of the devastation but when we returned the loss of mature trees, the oaks and beeches was hard to take. In places the freak way wind twists, tornado-like meant long established trees were plucked from the middle of woods. It was tragic. And in the acres across Sussex and Kent…

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Nicholas was very sad.  One could almost say traumatized.

His sister lived next to him and she was really rotten.  His uncle lived across the row and was always so two faced.  Everyone knew he was false but this did little to help.

Even surrounded, he felt alone.

He hurt so much.  Everything was getting on his nerves.  He just wanted to scream out.  “Somebody help me, someone take away my aches.”

Surely, he wasn’t bad.  He didn’t deserve this.

He felt inadequate, as though there should be more to life.

Poor, poor Nicholas, he was such a sensitive tooth.

Once he stood proud, tall and strong.  Facing gales and snow storms with warmth inside him.  Now he just did the occasional cough and felt like he was cracking-up.

Oliver exhaled his last smoke and promptly fell off the roof.

The homeowner – who he narrowly missed – recovered from her shock, and realized he would make a wonderful planter.  Tenderly she filled him with soil and planted begonias.

Cynthia, new to the job.  Looked down at Oliver with envy.  How beautiful he looked with his flowery crown.  She longed for retirement, when she too could be at one with nature.   She had never wanted to be a chimney.  She had wanted to be a jardinière.

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All of the residents of Woodlands are terribly excited as May Day is approaching fast. Miss Bell has been teaching the young children about the tradition behind this great event and how by coming together, they can increase the fruitfulness of the trees.
Miss Bell has spent the last two days teaching her students the May Pole dance. It started off badly but now they are able to weave in and out without tripping over each other. Miss Bell even has hopes of attaching ribbons to the Pole this year. Ribbons have not been used for several generations due to their ability to garrote but Miss Bell feels that her class has worked so hard they deserve the chance to do it properly. (Although, even she is not brave enough to rehearse with ribbons and will make the final decision on the day.)

The older lads are learning to Morris Dance under the watchful eye of Edward Squirrel. Edward has never actually done it himself but has YouTube various routines and his enthusiasm is paying off. The Galleys and Capers are going well but the boys took the Squashed Beetle too literally and the formation broke up whilst the group went on a spontaneous beetle hunt. They have now all returned and are happily hopping from left to right with a double hop in between. Edward can be heard several tree lengths away shouting “it’s all in the ankle.” The boys seem to be paying heed to his advice and are doing splendidly.

Madame de Halloumi is in charge of creative design and is being assisted by Willow and Timble Squirrels. They are busy filling the meeting room with the joys of spring. Fresh flower arrangements sit on each table and the floor is being covered with green leaves. These have been delivered by express courier – Harry the hedgehog, having rolled in a ball and speared them on his spikes. Harry is now in deep conversation with Madame de Halloumi whilst the squirrels are busy tearing leaves from his spines and scattering them  to make a wonderful carpet.

May Day arrives and Miss Bell puts her charges through their paces. They shine with professionalism and Miss Bell puts her misgivings aside.  With the help of Mayor Badger, they attach the ribbons to the May Pole.

The children excitedly play hide the caterpillar – a wonderful Woodlands game where you catch a caterpillar and hide it. Then you go and hide yourself and wait for the caterpillar to find you.
The parents and rest of Woodlands are arriving at the central May Pole venue and Mayor Badger takes to the podium to welcome all. He talks of the celebration of the Three Milking’s – a tradition that has been lost, mainly due to the all-inclusive and non-discriminatory nature of Woodlands and the lack of young maidens wanting to be milked.  He talks of his hopes for a good summer and productive harvest, and finally, he breaks the news that he has been chosen for the diplomatic core and this will be his last season as mayor.

There is stunned silence. Then a slight ripple of applause, and then a thunderous outpouring of appreciation as it is widely agreed that Mayor Badger has been the best thing to happen in their shire for many generations. The ovation stops and Mayor Badger presents the children of the Woodlands and the May Pole Dance.

Miss Bell leads her pupils to their ribbons and makes sure that each is in first position. Left paw forward and weight on right leg – of course Magdalena, the grass snake, can’t do this, so is swiveled prettily around her ribbon with her weight equally balanced. Miss Bell blows her whistle and they are off. Skip, skip, skippity skip, jump, jump, hop. In and out they weave along, hop, hop, hop.
All is going rather well and children and ribbons are frolicking along. The children are beaming with pleasure. But then, Drew Squirrel stumbles slightly and has to wave his tail backwards to keep his balance. Unfortunately, he is trying to emulate his older brother Thomas, so has used Thomas’s gel on his tail. This has now stuck to Magdalena’s ribbon which she is wound around, causing a slight bottle neck.

Titus, young beaver cub, tries to stop really quickly and thumps down his tail as an emergency break. This accidentally lands on the mole twins and knocks them unconscious. Libertina and Laka, two of the bunny blossom siblings, are busy smiling and waving with their free paws but both somehow manage to bypass the main pile up and continue to skip merrily around. This, although incredibly professional, as the show must go on, only adds to the problem as the ribbons, now ensnaring Magdalena, squeeze tighter and start to lift her into the air.

The Bunny Blossom Siblings, not really grasping the seriousness of the situation, have decided to go a bit faster as they think the gasps of terror from the audience are cheers of joy – please remember that a shrews squeak of terror sounds very similar to a rabbits squeal of delight.

The young snake is now being whizzed around like an air to ground missile preparing to launch – the front row of the audience are already fleeing in terror.

Just then, the Pickles Brothers, the Woodlands answer to the Roux Brothers, but hares. Walk out of the meeting room where they have been preparing the feast. Seeing the enormity of the situation, they run, knives in paws and cut the ribbons held by the bunnies.

The girls fall to the ground but only their pride is hurt.

Harvey, the oldest and most handsome of the triplets, gently catches Magdalena and carefully untangles her. As she looks into his striking brown eyes, she feels a sudden giddiness and swoons in his manly arms.

Thanks to the manliness and fast thinking of our hero’s, May Day celebrations are a success. Magdalena is crowned May Queen and a lore is passed forbidding the attaching of ribbons to the May Pole.



OK Leftie.  Let’s get ready.

Raise your heel.  Feel the weight and push.  Push harder.  Lift with all of your might.

Now wiggle your toes.  Faster.  Get them pumping.  Faster, faster.  Feel like they’re going to explode with anticipation.

Now stretch.  Relax.  Stretch again.  Come on Leftie, put your sole into it.  Really go for it.

We’re off.  Faster man, faster.  Run as fast as you possibly can.  Clear your mind.  Just feel the pounding pavement and the wind rushing by.

We’ve won.  We’ve won.

Where is my medal?

Chest gets the medal Leftie.  We’re just part of the team.

My Shed

It has been a difficult year.  Harry, my 11 year old son, discovered explosives during last year’s summer school break.  8 weeks of apologizing, to neighbors and friends, when their garden sheds had been blown up.  Using my scant savings to reimburse their loses.

Harry spends every other weekend with his very well off father.  But, did he blow anything up there?  Of course not.  Harry is too enchanting when he is with his father.  Two peas in a pod.

He just didn’t care.  His dad said he could work for him when he leaves school and his dad said school work isn’t relevant to the workplace.  I admit I was stumped when Harry asked me if I used algebra on a daily basis in my job.

So, in desperation I brought myself a shed and made a deal with my little devil.

If Harry came in from school and completed all homework, he could have the house to himself on Wednesday evenings from 6pm until 10:30pm

To begin with it was a learning curve.  I made sure that I had left a healthy dinner and snacks for Harry and his friends.  These were never eaten so now Harry cooks everyone junk food.

Originally, Harry just brought his two best chums home, but tonight, by 6pm, there were 6 pubescent boys.  Harry isn’t home yet so they are enchanting me with tales of their sporting prowess.

The minute Harry comes in I will hide in my shed.  Each month I have been buying myself a little shed gift.  It now has carpet, a comfortable chair and small work top.  An extension cable runs through the garden and powers my kettle, microwave and lamp.

A good friend put in a little window that faces my rose bush – not the house, I don’t want to know what goes on.

At 10:40 I go back into my home.  So far, it has always been clean – all rubbish taken outside.  A few breakages have happened but these have been declared and apologized for.

Harry always greets me alone – friends have never overstayed – and he always gives me his. Harry smile.  The same smile I loved in his father.

There is only one downside.  Several times I have met parents at the school and been acknowledged as, “the woman in the shed.”

A small price to pay for our harmonious, happy home.