So, the plan for this year was simple; find myself again, be adventurous, have fun. Monday marked the day that many people returned to work. The world was a lot quieter than it has been recently; the twinkling Christmas lights have all but disappeared and the weather is making sure we know that party time is over, with whistling winds and torrential rain.
I had an invitation which was hard to turn down; Mum asked me whether I would like to wander in the woods. For once, both my sisters also happened to be free – a rarity in adulthood, it seems – so we packed up our supplies and drove down the dirt track, dodging holes and puddles, into the deep, dark depths of Blean Woods. Besides, I asked for walking shoes for Christmas, and you can’t be precious… they needed mud.
When we formulated this plan in our heads, we hadn’t really accounted for the weather. ‘Woodland walk’ sounds quaint; following paths through the trees and watching the squirrels dashing to their hiding places. In fact, when I parked up at Dad’s work, he looked at what I was wearing and questioned my coat choice… After that wander, I’m sure he will be pleased to know that I have now bought a waterproof coat… Mother Nature was making sure we knew she was there, with occasional showers and gigantic lakes to manoeuvre.
I dared Lydia to wander through a massive puddle, before we trekked off-road to try and find a drier course. Last laugh was on her though, because we got lost, and ended up having to go through the puddle anyway…
I despise being off the ground. I am not scared of heights. I am not scared of flying. I am just scared of being on unstable ground, whether it’s two feet high, or twenty thousand feet in the air. I am fine on an aeroplane, yet put me on a bicycle and you may as well have flown me to the moon. Instead of wimping out and going the long way round, or avoiding the HUGE bouncing tree my sister found, I decided to bite the bullet and spend some time up in the air. I clambered across log bridges, climbed up trees and conquered my fears… ish. I doubt I will be getting on a bicycle any time soon, but adventure is out there, and sometimes it’s away from the safety of the ground.
The problems didn’t arise while I was hovering above ground, or rivers, however. The issue came when I decided to brave jumping off the log. Expecting the ground to be solid, naturally I braced myself, only to find that it was in fact incredibly mossy and spongy. Fortunately, I did not bring back my ridiculous ankle injury, but I did go down with a bump, ending up incredibly soggy and in hysterics. This situation was funny enough, but then, when Lydia came bounding over to save me, she also fell over. Mum and Emily were fantastic; both first aid trained, both caring and lovely individuals, both doubled over in side splitting laughter, ensuring that they captured the incident in high definition video and photography. Top sports.
On a previous trip, my family had discovered a rope swing, which we spent a good proportion of the time looking for again. When we found it, it was like the holy grail; you know adulthood has hit you, when your mother is no longer shielding you from danger, but is in fact, the first person to the rope swing, attaching a new seat, ready to send a tribute forward, to be potentially claimed by the expanse of water underneath. I didn’t brave this one (the climbing trees really took it out on my courage, and until I have restocked from the Wizard of Oz, I couldn’t possibly jump onto a rickety rope swing…), and Emily was also wise, so the task fell to Lydia. There was a point when I thought we had lost her forever, given her over to to wrath of Poseidon’s pondly colleague, but fortunately, she managed to stay put on her swing.
We made marmalade sandwiches to take with us, played pooh-sticks, found Gandalf style staffs, got wet, got muddy, stomped in puddles (both intentionally and unintentionally), fell over, slipped over, tripped over, got stuck on trees by our bobble hats, cried with laughter, trekked, looked for picnicking teddy bears and became more ‘at one’ with the world than I think we have ever been.
It was lovely as well; I have been feeling rather uninspired of late, so as well as being hilarious family time, the trip gave me a few ideas for Whisper. I have written a scene where my main character is wandering through an area not unlike these woods; seeing the colour, hearing the sound of rushing water and breathing in the fresh air has helped to bring that scene alive a little more. I can’t wait to immerse myself in the world I am creating, and to find more places to create the perfect Greenfalcon that I have been striving to deliver. In fact, there is just such opportunity round the corner; more on that later…
I can most certainly tick this one off the list of adventures to have in 2016. It may be the first, but I guarantee it won’t be the last. If you would like to see more of our escapades, I have put together the following video… Enjoy. And, when you get a chance, I recommend you go down to the woods; you’re sure of a big surprise.