‘In the woods, where we played, every hour of every day’ is a line from the chorus of Amongst Butterflies written by the mod father himself Paul Weller. The ninth single of Wellers first solo self-titled album.
The following line continues, ‘every hour of every day; the holidays went on forever.
At first, hearing the song brought back memories of playing in the woods and bracken on the edge of a horse field behind my best mates house. The school holidays seemed to last ages before we had to return to the classroom. The field with its wooded edges allowed endless amounts of exploring.
On one exploration, after climbing over his back fence and emerging in this vast new world of greenery, exploring through the unknown, we both claimed a tree that was surrounded by jungle plantation. We climbed its high branches, so our faces got warmed by the sun; we had a view of the canopy below and across the back gardens of the houses that hugged the road running parallel with the field. It felt like we were on top of the world. Nowadays, developers have moved in, and I’m not sure the tree still exists?
I like spending time in the woods. I’m not sure if it’s the smell of a forest, the sound of birdsong or the crunching of tree debris underfoot, or the memory of time with my best mate. But let me be amongst trees, and I’m happy.
As a family, we spent another week at a Forest Holiday resort. This time in the same surroundings as the legend Robin Hood. The primary forest is Pine, but some Oak and Beech trees are mixed among the tall conifers and other common boscage. The forest itself is quite large. If you look on Google Maps, you can see vast areas of dense green canopy, sadly divided up by roads and farmers fields. I can close my eyes and take myself back to Robin Hoods time and see the undisturbed wood, stretching for miles and miles, with no interruptions of busy ‘A‘ roads slicing through or large areas of Agriculture with farming machinery trundling across acres of produce.
While exploring the realm of Robin Hood, taking on the compact paths made to make access easier for everyone, you can see wise old trees that have seen kings and queens past. I envisage one of Robins Merry Men, or maybe even Robin, sitting high in a branch, waiting for the Sheriff of Nottingham and getting ready to pounce on his foe.
We scout further into the expanse of this greenwood, using my skills to go further off-road. Squirrels are sitting high in the trees, pealing pine cones and depositing their scales on the floor below. The squirrel does this to gain access to the sugars in the core of the cone.
We crossed the border into Derbyshire to go and see some sites. The Heights of Abraham in Matlock gave stunning views across the valley after a cable car journey. With 175 steps, the Caverns were inaccessible, which is OK. A very informative video tour was available, so I could experience the history of the caves while the family are on a tour of said caverns.
Back in Nottinghamshire, a visit to Creswell Crags for more history and caving for my family. Creswell Crags is an enclosed limestone gorge on the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, near the villages of Creswell and Whitwell. The cliffs in the ravine contain several caves occupied during the last ice age, between around 43,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Again the caves were inaccessible but not worth complaining about; if they had been accessible, it would have ruined the feature. So while the family are donning hardhats, I scoot off searching for adventure and do a lap of the lake in the middle of the crags. I get caught in a downpour and need to shelter under a tree. The air is left fresh with an air of dampness.
Back to the forest
In the quiet of dusk, the bats came out of their nesting. It takes a moment to realise the ‘pings and clicks’ heard within the trees are. Then you witness the dark shapes fluttering and twisting through the air. Their speed is immense, and a sharp eye is needed to see them and realise what it is.
Weller’s writing talent gives the song one verse and two choruses. On hearing the chorus, it makes me think, could the breeze be what Weller sings? I mean, trees give us Oxygen, for us the live. Is God there as well?
And in the woods was a soldier’s tomb
The ghost of which looked over you
And God was there amongst the trees
We felt his whisper as the summer’s breeze
And every night and every day
Touch my soul that way