I walk with Daisy through the wood.  Hornbeam seeds are scattered thickly along the footpath.     Their perculiar shape makes them look like the footfalls of some prehistoric bird who having landed in these strange surroundings now runs giddily round in circles.

We move across the field, Daisy following the myriad scents that criss-cross the meadow.   They are particularly potent scents today as she runs back and forth, her nose pressed hard to the grass seeking rabbit, squirrel, mouse.

We enter the beech copse and sit down underneath our beech tree to watch and wait a while.    

A determined wind is blowing and leaves are falling thick and fast.      From my vantage point I can see the moving clouds reflected in the copper cupola of the stable block at the old house.     The weather-vane fox is running to the south-west.     

At the corner of the stable block leaves are caught in a vortex by the wind and tossed up into a whirling spiral.   

The house itself is deserted, empty, respectably dressed but oddly plain. It reminds me of Miss Havisham sitting in the decaying remnants of her uneaten wedding feast.   For the house this decay is reflected in the wooded space around me.

Beneath the house, in the hedgerows, the blackberries are set thick and heavy.    They are overblown, excessive and slightly sinister.    Large and, watery they fall in dripping fronds of over-ripeness.   They are at once both inviting and repelling like something from a fairy tale.   

They are not alone.  Rowanberries and elderberries shrivel, untouched, on the trees.  Sloes and wild damsons cling to their parents, seemingly unnoticed in the hedgerow.  Spindle trees with their poisonous, pretty, bright pink berries weave in and out.       In the orchard of the old house ripe red apples, golden pears and yellow plums smother the trees but remain unpicked.   

There is something of the Brothers Grimm about this place.   The woodland exhibits signs of dereliction and neglect.   It is not just the time of year and the sense of passing that comes with the turn to autumn and winter.  Around me are fallen trees, overgrown bamboo, a choked brook and stands of trees which have seeded where they will and now fight each other for space and light.   The floor of the wood is overgrown with ivy, dark green and relentless.    

There is a suspended quality about this place which, to me at least, is part of its appeal.  I truly love it but it is trapped.   It has been left to fend for itself and unable to stand still has done just as nature dictates and now there is simply too much of everything.

The woodland is becoming wrapped up in itself and is in danger of becoming dark.   Although not uninviting, it has an air of self-absorption sometimes that can feel unwelcoming.     It is beginning to resent intrusion and this saddens me.   I have always loved the open and welcoming nature of trees.

We take leave of our beech and turn our attention to the path.   We walk homewards through the lower meadow, past the blasted, burned and hollow chestnut.    Now, if only this ancient and stunted being could speak what a tale she might tell.   She is a truly gothic tree, a genuine creature of fairytale……

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