One of the joys of living in Bournemouth is the proximity of the New Forest. As most people know, the 'New' is an affectation. It has been there at least since William the Conqueror - indeed his son William the 2nd, was killed (murdered?) there in a hunting accident.
On Saturday, after a tough week for both of us, we decided to go for a walk. We really had no idea where we were going, but we drove off in the general direction of the forest. After about 20 minutes we parked in a little bay called Broomy Walk and started walking. It was a shirtsleeves day and the broadleaved trees provided welcome shelter. Oak, holly, birch, oak again and again and again; you can imagine what a resource this was when King Alfred was building a navy to defend against the invading Danes.
It was easy walking. We tried to identify the birds by their song, but even when we saw them we couldn't recognise them. We have tits and blackbirds, robins, thrushes, jays, magpies, crows, woodpeckers and doves in our garden, but these were not any of those. Blue tits have laid in our nesting box for the second year and we talked about having a larger box next year to attract larger birds. I suggested a huge one with a dead rat in it to attract vultures, but this did not go down well.
We occasionally saw a human or two. They were generally ancient specimens like ourselves seeking the solitude. We imagined what the beaches must be like only 10 miles away. Bournemouth beach is one of the most beautiful in England, but once the crowds descend the aroma of suntan oil drives us away.
We found ourselves in a grove of beech trees. We noted that the casts were green and still on the trees. It was a delightful place; the sunlight was speckling through gaps in the verdure overhead. Above all it felt a place of safety. We spoke about how fortunate we were to live in a land without predators. No snakes to bite us, no wolves or bears, though once they would have lived in this forest. No wild boar, no poisonous spiders; the New Forest is famous for its wild ponies, but their only danger is that they are unafraid of motor cars.
Just then a roe deer ran across the path in front of us. I half expected to hear the whoosh of an arrow from some past king's bow, but it pranced on unconcerned as if there were nothing to fear. And then it was gone.
We walked back to the car. Whatever weighs on our shoulders life will continue.