I stood on something hard and round in Badock’s Wood today. I thought it was a dog’s toy ball but as I lifted my foot saw a large green soft shell. I tentatively broke it open, just to prove myself wrong really, because it’s still summer and there’s no way it was going to be a . . . but it was – a beautiful, fresh, shiny brown conker! I put it in my pocket to take back to my Dad, I knew it would bring a smile to his face and it did – he beamed as I popped it in his hand. I also knew it would evoke a dozen memories for him of being a boy in the 1940s when conkers were hugely prized, highly polished, threaded with string and sent forth to do brutal battle in the school playground!
Finding the conker surprised me because I can’t believe it’s autumn already. Just the other day it still felt like a long, drawn-out-lock-down summer and now it seems, after a couple of storms, we’re heading into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness at full speed! The kids are going back to school and it’s a new experience for all of them as they navigate the new Covid-safe school rules. After all this time apart it must be so hard to keep away from each other – maybe conker games would be a good thing to get into as at least it’s a no-contact sport (apart from the fights it might cause – according to my Dad!).
From finding conkers, ‘wellying’ along the River Trym, tumbling and stumbling down slopes, to peaceful moments and socially-distantly ‘bumping’ into neighbours and residents, Badock’s Wood has been my absolute bedrock during lock-down – it has grounded me and sometimes saved me. I feel incredibly lucky to have a beauty spot on the doorstep (a designated nature reserve) where I can breathe, walk and even ‘forest bathe’ (sitting and taking it all in!). And from what I’ve seen, lots of us have been doing the same over the last few months – going there to get a bit of exercise, air, or a nature fix.
The woods are not without problems. Every now and then something is damaged, or a few rowdy lads on bikes suddenly descend one of the steep gullies – narrowly missing you and your family at the bottom. But more often than not it’s an extremely friendly and pleasant place to spend time, especially with kids – a great way to get completely soaked, a bit muddy, and learn stuff about nature.
If you’ve found our woods a haven during the current pandemic, you might like to join me in thanking the volunteers at the Friends of Badock’s Wood for helping to keep the woods safe and for their continued dedication to enhance, protect and improve this local sanctuary. If you’d like to get involved in volunteering in the woods or would like to sign up for the Friends of Badock’s Wood monthly newsletter, then follow this link.
Meanwhile, The Mead wishes you a happy autumn, happy conkering, happy back to school and a happy return to any of the usual parts of daily life wherever that’s possible. If you’d like to write about your experiences during lock-down, or contribute an item about anything at all, we’d love to read and publish it. Just register on this website, add your stuff and press submit!
(below: today’s surprise find!)