Once upon a time, in the shadows of the forest....


Do you ever look back across the years, wondering just what it was that shaped your tastes, your imagination, your very view of the world?  Whenever I do, my mind settles upon the childhood years I spent roaming the flat lands of East Anglia on my trusty bicycle.



Aged six or seven, waking to a glorious sunny morning filled with birdsong and the smell of newly-cut grass, sitting upon the kitchen doorstep while my grandmother packed me a lunch of cheese & homemade-chutney sandwiches, apple, & warm-from-the-oven chocolate cake. Looking out across the wheatfields to the dark edge of the forest, anticipating a day of adventure with my friends...



...that pivotal moment of stepping from the warmth of the golden sunlight into the shadows where we might find deer & foxes, build hidden dens & share our schoolyard secrets along with our lunch.



Three of us riding our bicycles down the dusty lanes between walls of golden wheat stalks, the ditches dry at this time of year and excellent places for den-building...but today we are intent upon Thetford Chase, where the sound of tractors & harvesters faded rapidly, giving way to the song of woodlark & warbler, our passage muffled by the permanent carpet of pine needles.

Shafts of sunlight between the trees..



...flooding into the occasional glade where we pause, climb off our trusty steeds and rummage for treasure - smooth bird skulls, sharp-edged flints, shy woodland flowers (before picking such beauties was rightly made illegal), gnarled chunks of tree bark



A sudden reek of fox piercing the pine scent, the sharp crack of a sizeable branch...we all freeze, look almost-nervously around the edges of the clearing, unsure whether we might spot a stag



or the fabled green children.



On such days we chose to walk the edge of fear, the liminal borderlands between the natural & the mythic.

We were brave & free, & magic was possible.