Tuesday, March 13, 2012

13th March 2012

Well I’ve done very little today and I’m beginning to feel better for that. I can almost feel a physical sensation of peace slowly enveloping me as I relax and tension begins to fade. I can’t stop the occasional waves of intense sadness, as I think of Jane, but a few minutes on my knees crying out to the Lord and I begin to feel better. I’ve never been here before and Jane would have loved it. Apparently it’s the remnant of a much larger medieval forest, though with very little of the original remaining an action group is fighting to preserve and even restore as best as they can. It’s been managed by the Forestry Commission, and after unsuccessful oak and pine planting they decided to return this lake to it’s natural wetland environment. Twenty years ago it would not have looked like this, but this evening I found it very peaceful; wandering along trying to take a few photos, but really just enjoying the birdsong again…

I’m trying really hard to get used to being alone, I always avoided it, rarely going anywhere on my own. It’s not really who I am, I don’t like it, though I’m quite fussy about who I spend time with. At least for any length of time, though I can genuinely enjoy just about anybody’s company for an hour or two. I love to meet people and listen to their story, which happens now and then on campsites including today. Most folk are quite happy to pass the time of day sharing their travelling tales, though the guy this morning was simply expounding the benefits of keeping fit playing golf and riding his bike. Apparently his caravan was not large enough to accommodate both activities so he alternated them. Riveting stuff! Yesterday another neighbour shared his lesson on folding bikes, including the perils of leaving your compressor at home. Wow… but actually I need to take things this slowly and I enjoyed just talking to these nice people.

A few hundred yards from my pitch I came across a sizable and newly constructed bivouac hidden in the forest. I wondered what that was all about. Perhaps just a bit of fun, maybe a temporary shelter for goodness knows who or what. But I remember in my Boy Scout days, taking my Backwoodsman Badge, building a smaller and not dissimilar thing. Hey, mine was completely waterproof, but open doors for the local bugs unfortunately. Then I had to light an open fire with only two matches allowed, prepared and boned a whole fish for cooking without using a pan… can’t remember how that worked, maybe large leaves or damp newspaper (probably cheated with kitchen foil!), before placing in the cooling embers for a long time. Then we stripped the bark off a stick and used it to toast some sort of very plain tasting sticky flour mixture. It was supposed to be a waffle but I wouldn’t recommend trying that at home! Come sundown I had read in my Baden Powell handbook that it was a good idea to bury any remaining fire embers under a layer of damp turf to make the next day’s fire starting much quicker. Let’s take the initiative, got to be a good idea I thought… until in the midnight darkness of the secluded wood I woke to the sound of whistles and leaders running around trying to put out the fire I’d started. Oops!

Life can be good, I just have to re-engage.

John 10:10 ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (NLT)

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