Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Forest school

This afternoon's forecast is for heavy rain, 8ºC and winds of 18mph. I refresh the 'Come play in the woods' Facebook page. Still no cancellation message. I guess that means it's on.

MooBaaKids is the website for keeping mums sane in this area. I looked up pre-school groups and among the usual singalongs and storytimes, playing in the woods jumped out at me. Isn't that why I moved to the country?

So I drive with Joe through stunningly desolate and foreboding moorland, speckled with half-derelict farms and splashed with reservoirs. The rain's holding off but the wind's picking up. I've located Griff Wood on a map and drive as close as possible. No sign of life and certainly no mums on a day out...

At this point Joe refuses to leave the warmth of the car and the Secret Seven audio tape (yes - my vintage 4x4 only plays cassettes). I have to practically drag him up a muddy footpath, his coat trailing behind as he refuses to put it on.

The mature trees tower over us and still there's no one in sight. Suddenly there's the squeal of a child and a whiff of wood smoke. We stumble upon a merry gathering, cordoned off with bunting: kids' wielding trowels, parents chatting as if this is the most normal thing in the world and a blackened kettle steaming invitingly on a campfire.

Thus Joe and I are introduced to Oakworth forest school. He can't resist the urge to dig up some moss, climb a fallen tree trunk and tuck into a foil-wrapped, fire-baked apple. I can't resist a tepid mug of tea, the rest of Joe's apple and a few songs around the fire.

Then the chill really sets in. We race back to the car and the warming tones of Enid Blyton. More layers next time. I might even persuade Joe to wear a coat.

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