We were staying with family on the edge of The New Forest. There’s something about time outdoors together that tightens the family bonds. Just up the road from the family house is Tinney’s Firs. A tucked away woods with meandering streams, plenty of Holly trees and, while we there, a seemingly constant drip drip of leftover raindrops. The earth was a deep muddy brown coated in the black mulch of fallen leaves. brown shades from tan to sienna reached up to the sky darkening into silhouetted branches against the cloudy grey. The odd spray of bright fresh green leaves brought vibrancy to an otherwise earthy palette.
Louie and Jack found large fallen branches which furnished them beautifully with walking sticks. Maia struggled with the deep mud bogs, huge expanses to her little legs. We followed the path up around and over the stream. A slip on a mildewed log left Louiel with a soggy boot but we carried on regardless. Humming songs and discussing the toad we found last time we walked this round, Louie leads us through.
Jack entertains us skipping and hopping, dramatically avoiding the bogs that Louie marches gloriously towards. Family time well spent. The colours anchor into me, warm and reassuring. As we leave the woods onto the neighbouring bridleway a phone call tells us that friends are engaged. We reminisce about getting the buggy stuck along here years before and pass by the fields and smallholding back up to the road.The next day we head out to a wildlife attraction across the forest. After an unplanned detour, or… could say getting lost, we arrive in light rain to out-of-our-budget entrance fees. I use the toilet and much to the disappointment of the small ones we get back in the car and head back across the forest. The rain has slightly abated and we make a stop at Bramble Hill for another walk. Here we are adventuring and exploring somewhere we have not seen before. The orange brown flint of the car park holds pools of silver water reflecting the flat white sky.
We head through an opening following a slightly worn track across an open area through gorse and small trees and shrubs. The mossy ground would be a citrus green in another light. Jack runs ahead with Louie fast behind him. They delight in a dewpond on the edge of a larger clearing. Clouds pass and for a shimmering moment the water reflects a blue that I put on a par with the boy’s eyes. Maia wants to paddle but the water is quite deep. Jack carries her through. On we go up and over and down a steep hill. The ground is striped with white stones, red flint and black squelched leaves. The shades of green here are deeper and fuller than our previous walk. At the bottom we reach the stream and wooden bridge. We navigate a huge boggy patch to reach the other side where the children splash and paddle in the perfectly clear flowing water. Orange flint shines as it is continuously washed and the trickle drip and splashes quiet my senses.
I remember these times in my skin, in my muscles and bones. I feel the colours and sounds shimmer through my nerves. The subtleties of all that surrounds us becomes the raw matter from which I am made. Then in this way I can re-make and make order of feelings that I may otherwise lose. The walks contain my family and this I hold in myself. I re-feel the colours and through my hands attempt to remake them into another tangible form. Maybe I am trying to contain, keep and store that which passes around and through us.