Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Expotition

On the second weekend in June, Adam and I set out on an expotition to Ashdown Forest, or Pooh Country. On the outskirts of a little East Sussex village called Hartfield, sits Cotchford Farm, the home where Christopher Milne grew up. (Cotchford Farm was also the place where a Rolling Stones guitarist drowned in the swimming pool, and last year the home was put on the market for a mere £2 million (($4 million NZD)) - you can read the details here).   

The surrounding area is Ashdown Forest, where a young Christopher Robin played with his toys, and the inspiration for his father's Winnie-the-Pooh stories. 
Christopher Robin's toys, now in the New York public library.
It was interesting to see an area that you have only previously seen in your mind's eye. I had pictured the area to be very green and woody, but it was a relatively open hilltop, mainly covered in low scrub and occasional clumps of trees. It wasn't until we crossed the road, towards the Hundred Acre Wood, that it began to feel more like Pooh Country.

We began our walk at Gills Lap - Galleons Lap in the Pooh stories - and soon came across The Enchanted Place. Named thus by Christopher Robin, as nobody had been able to count if there were sixty-three or sixty-four trees on the hilltop... 
I tried to count them, but counting has never been my strong point
From there, it was only a short walk to the Heffalump Trap. It lies beneath this lone tree:
And indeed, there was a heffalump caught in the trap. Though it had managed to escape by the time we left.

Did you know that the real Christopher Robin tried to dig a heffalump trap in his own garden? Unfortunately, the gardener's wife tripped over the hole and Christopher Robin got into a spot of trouble...

After our exciting heffalump sighting, it was time to trek to the Milne and Shepard memorial, which has a fabulous view over the countryside. Unfortunately the grey weather wasn't showing East Sussex to its best advantage, but we could still see its charm. Apparently this is the spot where Milne used to do his thinking when writing the Pooh stories.

Then we saw Roo's Sandy Pit, which is supposedly a disused quarry, but mainly looked like a hole with scrub and water in it.
My, how you've grown, Roo!
I don't know if Roo would want to play there now
And then it was time to set out on a real expotition, an expotition to the North Pole. The walk was easy at first, through lovely woods, and across the stream - the one Roo fell into and was rescued by Pooh and Kanga, who found the North Pole and held it across the river for Roo to grab on to.

I couldn't find any suitable North Poles to hold
Then it was time to climb back up the other side, towards the Hundred Acre Wood (500 Acre Wood in reality). It was a steep path, and we were well due for a breather by the time we reached the top, near the edge of the Wood. The path then looped back around the rim of the valley, and beside us, at the bottom of the valley, was Eeyore's Gloomy Place.
Looking out across Eeyore's Gloomy Place
It does look rather gloomy, doesn't it?
And then, it was time for a visit to the shop at Pooh Corner, where Christopher Robin used to go with his nanny to buy sweets. It is now a tearoom and gift shop, though the items are mainly Disney-style - I wonder if this is to do with copyrights? Personally I prefer the EH Shepard line drawings from the original books, and I would have loved to buy a couple of prints of these. Perhaps I shall have to trawl the internet!

After purchasing some honeycomb and a pretty Pooh mug, we went to play Pooh Sticks. The original bridge was built in 1907 as a means to transport timber. In the 1970s, it was restored, and in 1999 it was rebuilt as it was no longer safe. It cost £46,000 to rebuild in the original style. Imagine how much hunny Pooh could have acquired with that kind of cash!
Unfortunately, there was not much water in the stream, nor was the available water flowing very fast. Our sticks frequently became tangled, but on the two occasions when they managed to float separately, Adam won.

Adam-the-Pooh on the bridge
The stream is quite overgrown now
(And full up with sticks from other visitors' games!)

After our lovely visit to Pooh Country, we went home for a coffee and a piece of honeycomb. Mmm, hunny.

"A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise"

No comments:

Post a Comment