Sunday, 10 July 2011

A walk through the trees

The other day I took a walk through the trees at Frensham Little Pond. It is a magical place that held so many memories for a girl I knew. As a young teenager she and her sister with their best friend from school use to cycle here with their bottle of Tizer and some Marmite sandwiches, and their bathing costumes and swim in the shallow waters of this beautiful pond surrounded by sandy gorse land and pine woods.

It was that time in their lives between being children and growing up. There were no boys or beaux in their lives and their innocence was something that I was not privy to. Many years later after we had married and had our children and they too were growing up and away from us she took me back there and told me about her teenage years and the joys of growing up in a fantasy world where the sun shone and nothing troubled their minds.

When we went back we had been keen birdwatchers for some time and had lived in Australia for many years. We were both anxious to see the birds that coloured our childhood that were fast disappearing from the British countryside. We read of the Dartford Warbler that could be seen by careful eyes curiously at Frensham Little Pond.

So we drove down to this secret place from her past and walked the sandy paths to the pond and she told me of times of long ago. We then followed the instructions to find the Dartford Warblers and lost in the trails of gorse and broom and warming up in the sun we saw not one bird of any description. We reread the instructions, which was to face north looking over the wild vegetation and keep very still. So we sat on the ground, with our binoculars at the ready and sat quietly. The sun beat down the air was still and we were as quiet as two field mice. We were finally part of the background. Almost immediately some little birds emerged from the bushes, flying up in the air and flying back down again. One or two would perch proud and confident on a twig before disappearing into the undergrowth. In a lull of activity we consulted the field guide and checked all their attributes and they were certainly Dartford Warblers. So that was a bonus to a magic day for me, I had been shown a part of my dear wife’s childhood and we had discovered together an endangered British bird.

Now I have returned again, years later. My wife has gone on before me. So I walk alone. I park my car and walk through the pine wood, wade my way through the bracken and reach the shore of the pond. I am alone except for a crested grebe on the water and a tern skimming over the surface. He must be holiday from the sea shore. I can hear the tinkle of laughter as the three girls splash in the water and I can imagine their bikes and lunch bags strewn on the shore. I am at last privy to view the world through my wife’s eyes and to regret that she is no longer here to share it with me. However for me it is just another way to say goodbye.

So I do just that and thank her for my time with her and the joy and love she gave me. I turn and walk through the trees to my car and promise to come back to talk to her again.


  1. Wonderful Rob, just wonderful. No need to say more.

  2. Yes, OldEgg...a wonderful memory gracefully shared..I hope the photos provide a temporary means to get back to that place and time..Tizer and there's a white bread with the crusts cut off and a pop bottle that's warm and shaken up..Jae

  3. I feel privileged to read this, to see this amazing memory.
    Thank you.

  4. Rob, this is a beautiful, unabashedly sentimental piece. As Abigail said, I too feel privileged to read it. Your love for your wife shines throughout, and the place itself comes alive, even without the image. Amy

  5. I agree. It was a privelge to read this. I loved how you imagined the girls in the pond, their bikes and lunch bags - echoes from the past. A lovely piece.

  6. I have tears in my eyes! A very touching piece!