The Adventures of Anna Ray in Bluebell Wood


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Walking the lane behind Campus West Car Park we were now in a posh residential area. Along the route we passed many signposts to Reddings, Pentley Park and Woodland Rise, but our route took us through the wood to Digswell Place. The golf course famous golfer Nick Faldo was born in Welwyn , we were told by a walker was perfectly manicured!

A Woodpecker, was heard to be hammering in the area by Glenis and Liz, and possibly others. Walking on past Lemsford Mill and then under the A1 M bridge the route took us back through the residential area around Handside to end our journey…in twilight. A lovely walk, thanks to Liz and Malcolm!

The Hertfordshire countryside was, after a somewhat drawn out winter, at last awakening in the warm spring sunshine. Bluebells were painting every woodland floor a delicate shade of blue, and some of our more observant members spot-ted tiny purple violets growing in the short grass at the edge of the footpath. The sight of those huge curved horns triggered the inevitable rib-ald banter, primarily aimed at those members wearing red jackets, but they all turned out to be bovine pussy cats.

We would all like to thank Pat and Ray for their hard work putting everything to-gether, just for us. As they say - when you put on your walking boots you never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to see. Each walk a mini adventure. It was a bright and sunny spring morning when 14 of us including a prospective new member Margaret Spencer from New Zealand met outside the Five Horseshoes Pub in Little Berkhamsted before we set off for a 7 mile walk.

The walking conditions were good overall although as you would expect at the end of April there were a few sec-tions where there were muddy conditions. As we approached the final section, we passed through a kissing gate where two horses in the adjoining field took a fancy to Julie Rackham and insisted on following her through to the next kissing gate! Ten of us stayed for a meal in the Five Horseshoes Pub where we were entertained by Mark Archer telling us about his planned return trip to Iceland. Although the three TRIMble circuits are repeated every quarter, there is no evidence of them losing their appeal.

With each repetition comes seasonal changes and the walk on this occasion was no exception, as we entered woodlands carpeted with bluebells which were at their very best. Although the weather was chilly, there was enough sunshine to make the walk very enjoyable. The rail journey south to our start point is part of the adventure, the view from the train taking in the Shard, the Gherkin, and all sorts of urban landscapes old and new. Walking the Loop is no walk in the park. Loopers have learned to appreciate that intricate navigation can be required, especially in sections where signposting becomes ambiguous or where multiple paths exist on the ground yet none do on the map.

Which is how we found ourselves having to use a compass to extricate ourselves from the clutches of Roundabout Wood. Well named that wood … because we almost did.

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After a fortifying cup of tea in Petts Wood, Section 3 turned out to be a fascinating 10 miles of varied landscape from the rows of thirties semis in Bromley to the rich farmland of the green belt between Orpington and West Wickham. An early highlight was High Elms, once the 19th century estate of rich city bankers, the Lubbock family. Fortey isn't the kind of nature writer to wax lyrical about nature in general, he waxes lyrical about the details of things that many people would overlook and he notices everything - he has found well over species of fungi in his wood!

He is adept too at making the connections, finding cherry pits that have been nibbled by wood mice and then finding where the mice are living. He is also very aware of his own limitations and has consulted experts in the fields where he isn't able to identify species himself, weaving their input into the complete story of his woods. Fortey would be a brilliant companion for a walk through any British woodland and reading this book inspires me to pay even more attention when I'm next in the woods.

This is a totally fascinating and satisfying read for anyone who is interested in natural history. A book to enjoy and learn from and read over and over again. Jan 07, Becky rated it really liked it. Richard Fortey, author and scientist, is a landowner as well. Fortey pens a tale of exactly what he and his family came across with the land. With each chapter focusing on the different seasons that Fortey experienced each month — from finding mushrooms in the Fall to tree felling in January and so forth, and so forth. Fortey took to learning and observing and taking notes about each plot, each tree and each plant.


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Read it. May 15, Waverly Fitzgerald rated it it was amazing Shelves: nature-writing. Oh bliss! A book that is beautifully written by a British naturalist about a particular place, a small woods, and that place happens to be about 10 miles from the place I am writing about in my historical novel set during the English Civil War. So I get to enjoy not only the wonderful details about bluebells in the beech woods, and the sounds the birds make, and the history of the nearby estates and towns, and the animals that inhabit the wood, but I can count this as research.

Like many books a Oh bliss! Like many books about place, it revolves around the seasons, as the author explores different aspects of this patch of woodland he has purchased. I skipped ahead because I had to return the book to the library to read sections most relevant to my research but then went back and read in order through to about June, finding great satisfaction in learning about how the grey squirrels drove out the red squirrels, and what kind of wood is best to burn, and how to make beech leaf noyeau.

I will buy a copy as soon as it's available in paperback in November.


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  • It's both a reference book and lyric nature writing at its best, and the British seem to be the best at nature writing. Mar 11, Julie Stielstra rated it really liked it Shelves: nature. I used to regularly walk and bird a certain path, through a prairie back to a wide, shallow wetland. After a few years, I had landmarks in my head: that's the Olive-Sided Flycatcher tree; that's the pond where the loon was once; the Black-Crowned Night Herons like to sit over there; this is the Chickadee Woods, and if I'm lucky, the Ospreys might be on their nest.

    It was like the bar in Cheers: "where everybody knows your name.

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    So I've always loved the idea of knowing a place so intimately that you know what all the trees are, when the pussy-willows bloom, and where the Red-Headed Woodpeckers swoop. Richard Fortey, after a lifetime of scrutinizing the stony remains of creatures that no longe exist as chief paleontologist of the magisterial Natural History Museum in London, decided it was time to get outside into the living world.

    He and his wife bought four acres of beech woods, and he settled into learning everything and everyone who lived there. He begins with the spring, figuring out what all those fetal greenlings are that start to poke up out of the leaf litter, and takes us through the year - and through the millennia as well. He counts the trees - and has an elegant cabinet hand-made from a fallen wild cherry tree.

    Thank you and we will be back! This week people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 34 were first timers and 44 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 12 different clubs took part. Henley Wood parkrun, Oswestry started on 20th October Since then 1, participants have completed 4, parkruns covering a total distance of 21, km, including new Personal Bests. A total of individuals have volunteered times.

    This week the rain stayed away and, although the route had to be slightly diverted to avoid a temporary lake, people, dogs and a buggy ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 47 were first timers and 14 recorded new Personal Bests.

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    Congratulations to Malcolm Kirk who joined the 50 run club - well done! Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Henley Wood parkrun, Oswestry Results Page. Since then 1, participants have completed 4, parkruns covering a total distance of 20, km, including new Personal Bests.

    This week people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 49 were first timers and 28 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 25 different clubs took part. Since then 1, participants have completed 3, parkruns covering a total distance of 18, km, including new Personal Bests. This week people ran, jogged and walked around the beautiful wood. Three of these tourists had very interesting t-shirts all blaming Andrew for something or other!

    I was quite surprised how calm and gentle it felt, given the close proximity to the A5. There were lots of cheers and claps out on the course itself too. The biggest cheers were saved for the sprint finishes — strongly encouraged by the marshal just before the finish funnel and everyone I saw finish responded with a big effort at the end. I also had a boy stop climbing halfway up the slide to give me a big thumbs up on the way past!

    A total of 13 different clubs were represented, with a large contingent from the wonderfully named Oswestry Olympians and a travelling cohort from Massey Ferguson RC. The event also saw its first ever female first place, but a reminder to always bring your barcode as she shows on the results as an unknown. As ever, a massive thank you to the 26 hi-vis heroes for this week, taking the total individuals who have volunteered at Henley Wood over the mark:.

    My home parkrun is just down the road at Shrewsbury, and as it was cancelled, I talked some of my running buddies we talk a lot about cake and food whilst we run into jumping in the car with me, and wandering up to Henley Wood. Bear in mind I used to live in the centre of town, and worked on the outskirts of the town, I had no idea that Henley Wood existed, until this fabulous core team had put together a wonderful parkrun there. I dragged my sorry backside out of bed at 7am, was late as usual to pick up Bob and Laura, and off to Oswestry we went on our adventure.

    I found the car park quite easily, scoped out the loos luxury! And then he gave us the go ahead to run and boom, we were off. All of us sprinting like mad to get to one end of the course. It did bring some level of humour to the trail run, and another runner helped me and Bob up. Thankfully no one was injured, we were just a little muddy. I think I jumped a mile every time someone squeaked after that, and continued to berate myself for not wearing my trail trainers. I then gave a quickly sweaty hug to Ray Pickett at his marshalling point poor beggar has had the unfortunate pleasure of knowing me for some years , had a quick natter about Market Drayton Race on Sunday, and then we were all back off for lap 2.

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    Really should have worn those trail trainers. Another awesome marshal pointed out that the mud is actually a really good purifying agent for your skin, I actually laughed out loud at that point. Recorder and a portrait of Dame Sybil Thorndike. A set of books on Roman Republican and Imperial Coinage.

    The Adventures of Anna Ray in Bluebell Wood
    The Adventures of Anna Ray in Bluebell Wood
    The Adventures of Anna Ray in Bluebell Wood
    The Adventures of Anna Ray in Bluebell Wood
    The Adventures of Anna Ray in Bluebell Wood

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