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Growing up in Epping Forest Part 1 Nature is good for you!

Photo of one of my recent Acrylic paintings of Epping Forest, Essex. I have more paintings on my website at The #KingsheadHotel kindly allowed me to use their publicity photo as reference for my forest painting. Other photos or references for illustrations come from the book ‘Epping Forest and now’.

Hi! I am 85 years of age and this is my first Blog on the Ancient and Sacred Trees website. I'd like to talk about my early close encounters with trees. When i was a child in the early 1940's we had lots of trees along the side of the road, my friends and i collected caterpillars and watched them become butterflies. The next road along had cherry trees. I was about eight and my parent’s house, in Chingford, Essex, had three pear trees at the rear of the back garden, the trunks were long and I couldn’t reach the lower branches. The other tree, I think a mountain ash, was nearer the house and if I climbed onto the coal shed I could leap across to it and so it became my private gymnasium. I could climb it, swing on branches and crawl along a branch so I could jump off. Great fun!

We lived about half a mile from a part of Epping Forest called #Larkswood in Chingford, close to the Larkswood swimming pool and the sports field. The wood was on a hill, ran to one side of the pool picnic field and across the top side. Here just alongside the pool fence was what we boys and girls called the Ladder tree. This was well named! I loved running in the wood for all of my childhood, up and down tracks, jumping any fallen branches or logs. Up the hill and round to behind the pool was a view across to London, I liked to see the lights at night. I had no fears walking through paths to houses on the other side at night. There were large trees, Beech and probably Hazel and a log that children would climb on and pretend it was a boat or some other figment of their imagination.

Photo by Acabashi - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Things a kid could do included - find a stick (this could be an imaginary sword, rifle, javelin), bow and arrow could be made, play cowboys and Indians - hide and seek - collect berries - nuts and conkers. I had two friends along the road, brothers, at the bottom of their garden was a row of poplars, we had a rope tied to the centre tree and we climbed up the adjacent tree swung out and landed on the tree the other side. No damage done. When it snowed we tobogganed down a path from the top avoiding roots and trying to get as far as we could on to and along the fields sandy path. My dad made me a sledge out of wood, he taught me a lot about wood being a cabinet maker and joiner.

There must have been hundreds of children that related to trees one way or another in my childhood living near to Larkswood. Some may be on here. I now live in Somerset and on a recent walk my grandson found a stick and kept it all day and took it home, enjoying one of nature’s gifts, I was pleased.

How can more children enjoy nature wherever they live, now and in the future? Who if not children, will care for the trees in the future? Nature is good for you!

To be continued...

Photo from the book ‘Epping Forest Then And Now 'by Winston G Ramsey with Reginald Folkes published by Battle of Britain Prints International Limited

AST artists can be found in our DirecTree

2 comentarios

Great forest, I grew up near the lower NW face on the last bit of Essex to Hertford, so my normal walk up from the Lea valley was Mott Street in to the "High Beeches" - a great cathedral grey trunks and copper leaf litter. Holly and some hornbeam and birch areas too, some dry slopes and marshy areas with bomb hole ponds. Long days with friends and the dog, great memories.

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Amanda C Vesty
Amanda C Vesty
12 feb 2020

Dear Geoffrey what a lovely story! I love the stick game and the story of your childhood is so evocative. Your painting is so reminiscent of woods close to where I live :-). I am really looking forward to reading your nest instalment.

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