Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Going Back To My Roots


Here I am aged about ten years, with my childhood friend, Pearl, on a visit to Edwinstowe to see 'The Major Oak'. I was born in Nottingham and many of our family outings in the 60s would be to Sherwood Forest, legendary home of the outlaw Robin Hood. The forest is home to hundreds of ancient oaks like the one above, but of course the Major Oak was the most famous. It is over 800 years old and has a history all of its own. Clicking the above link will take you to the website of ’The Friends of Sherwood Forest’ where you can see some amazing photographs of this mighty tree. I was brought up on stories of the oak being the hiding place or larder of Robin and his Merry Men, and I never failed to feel excitement and wonder whenever we visited. Just walking into the wood and getting that earthy tang of trees, fern, bracken, fungi and moss was enough to lift the spirits.

In later life I’ve often been lucky to live near forest and woodland. Back in the 80s we lived in R.A.F. married quarters in Rheindahlen, Germany, and we had only to step out of the gate at the bottom of the garden to take a walk in the woods. This is where I learned to love my favourite bird, the Nuthatch, which I would watch from my kitchen window as he scurried up and down the trunk of the trees over the road.

When we lived in Salisbury, we would visit the New Forest, where not only oak, ash and beech grew, but also more exotic trees such as Wellingtonia, Sweet Chestnut and Japanese Cedar. The Knightwood Oak grows there, a visitor attraction since Victorian Times, when it was marked on the OS maps as ‘The Queen of the Forest’. She and the slightly smaller, ‘Adam and Eve’ and the ‘The Eagle Oak’ vie for the prize of largest tree, but these are youngsters of 200-300 years compared with the mighty Major Oak of Sherwood.

It is easy to feel dwarfed by these huge, ancient trees and be somewhat in awe of them, as Francis Kilvert wrote of the ancient trees in Moccas Park in Herefordshire, when he visited in 1876.

"I fear those grey old men of Moccas, those grey, gnarled, low-browed, knock-kneed, bowed, bent, huge, strange, long-armed, deformed, misshapened oak men that stand waiting and watching century after century, biding God’s time with both feet in the grave and yet tiring down and seeing out generation after generation, with such tales to tell, as when they whisper them to each other in the midsummer nights, make the silver birches weep and the poplars and aspens shiver, and the long ears of hares and rabbits stand on end. No human hand set those oaks. They are the ‘trees which the Lord hath planted'. They look as if they have been at the beginning and making of the world, and they will probably see its end."



We should also remember though that trees can bring us joy and create hours of fun. Apart from hiding inside their hollowed trunks, generations of children have climbed into their leafy canopies, for games of hide-and-seek, to make tree-houses, or just for the sheer challenge and adventure. Here are my own two, twenty-five and more years ago, learning to appreciate some of the sensations we feel in the company of trees. The pleasure of leaning on the sturdy trunk of a mature tree whilst bathed in dappled sunlight, and surrounded by the natural sounds of the woodland and those earthy forest-floor smells. The childish happiness felt when achieving that first clamber into the lowest branches of the garden tree, knowing that from then on anything was possible. There may be falls and scrapes along the way, but what a lesson in life.


If you want to branch out and hear some more old arboreal memories, visit this week’s Sepia Saturday, where Alan’s picture prompt sowed the seed for today’s post. 

18 comments:

  1. Oh there's nothing like a visit to the major oak and Sherwood Forest!! These are some lovely photos! :-)

    Jem xXx

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  2. This is magical! A great picture. I didn't even know that the Sherwood Forest was a really place. Thanks so much for stopping by to say hi this morning.

    Kathy M.

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  3. Who's following who? Been there, seen kids do that. And I played cricket at Edwinstowe once.
    A magnificent tree.

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  4. That's a beautiful old tree. It's good that the tree is healing, but it won't be as much fun for kids with no cavity.

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  5. Such an enjoyable post - a pleasure to read. I know the Major Oak at Edwinstowe : if you were to visit it these days you wouldn't be able to get with 50 yards of it as it is fenced off for its own protection.

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  6. That's a pretty serious tree! Great post, and lovely pictures.

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  7. WoW!I have never been to Sherwood Forest.That Oak is Monster!!!! I must visit.

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  8. Lovely post, ive never been to sherwood forest but would love to visit. I live not far from the new forest so we used to have plenty of camping trips there in my childhood - complete with new forest ponies raiding our tents! Scarlett x

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  9. All that picture needs is a bow and arrow to complete it! LOL Love the forest and woodland tales in this post.

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  10. Great post! Aren't trees just simply amazing?
    I couldn't help noticing that you are into words, have you ever played a game called Quiddler, it is like playing Scrabble, but with cards instead.

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  11. I think I spent half my childhood up trees. I must have anticipated that it would be my only chance to tower over anyone.

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  12. Wonderful post- that tree is just amazing.

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  13. Wonderful to know of this. Did not know it was a real place. We once live in a subdivision named Sherwood Forest and our street was Robin Drive. Lots of trees there for sure.
    QMM

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  14. When I was a young teen I had a pen pal in Nottingham who sent me a postcard of the Robin Hood tree. I had hoped we would remain friends so that someday I could visit her and that tree. Didn't happen. The letters simply ended. I did sort of think of going by the address when I was in Britain just to say, "So you stopped writing. Was it the gift I sent?"

    I'd still like to see that tree.

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  15. I have photos of my son on several similar trees over the years. They are special markers of time.

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  16. There is nothing like touching, smelling and listening to trees especially as the breeze gently kisses the leaves to make them whisper on a summers day. I'm so glad your children had the joy of "making friends" with them as youngsters...... I've just re-read my comment Little Nell and it sounds like sentimental bilge, but, I think you will understand my ramblings.

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  17. What wonderful photos that you have here. The top one is unbelievable. I liked them all and enjoyed reading you post.

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