As a city girl, born and bred, I have never seen the fascination for those wanting to visit London or worse, want to live here. Over the years it seemed to go more and more downhill so much so, many of us want an escape. So whilst the big move is on to get out of the city, the hunt for a place to get some peace and quiet from the daily hustle is on!
This weekend, after coffee with the girls and another a quick iced latte in Starbucks, I was on my way down the M23 towards Ashdown Forest. It’s not the quickest of drives, but once off the motorway (you spend about 7 minutes on it) you have open roads,for about 25 minutes to the forest through country roads and green landscape, with the odd Bambi on the way.
Parking at Ashdown is free and there is plenty of it. So after parking, getting proper footwear on and a jumper in hand, I was off. Being alone in the woods isn’t everyone’s idea of fun or relaxation, but for me it was complete bliss. There were other families there who had set up for the day with picnics and some were venturing out of the woods. The odd stare of a young woman going off into the woods alone, was very common, I imagine ” she is mental” ran through their minds. But nevertheless, I followed the trail down and came to a big opening where you can see for miles. It was perfect! There was no one around I was simply welcomed with a view that London could never provide. There was no sounds of buses, trains, horns or people just …. silence.
It was the perfect sunny day for my little adventure. And on the other side of the woods, I came across a fort! The excitement inside was that of being a child with a new colouring book and NEW, yes NEW, colouring pencils. *pause for thought* Maybe I don’t get out enough, just putting that out there. Anywho, there was a fort! And quite a splendid one at that. There were fresh drag lines from whoever built it so I didn’t stay long, and obviously didn’t sit in it…. Or did I… You will never know. That suspense must be killing you.
After the excitement, I decided to head back to base camp… I’d spotted a cafe sign and needed a beverage. On the way back up, I noticed a little stream and quite a few fallen trees. Once of which blocked the whole trail, and from not taking much care as to which way I’d walked down. I assumed it had fallen and blocked my path and being quite small, though how the heck am I going to climb that tree. But, fear not, I realised I had come from the left of the tree, and all was fine. A quick snap later and I was back on track and on my way to what I can only describe as a little slice of heaven.
The cafe was a pop up cafe and located behind the woods next to the tourist information centre where there were also toilets; thankfully I didn’t have to become “at one with nature”. After sitting down with a nice cuppa, I turned my phone off and just people watched. Families, couples – young and old – were enjoying a nice day out and most of all, it was free. Why people feel the need to spend money for a fun day out, I will never know.
They had a little hut there which the little ones were playing in, the adults weren’t too sure about it though. There was a hidden seating area with logs cut out and placed as seating as well as benches spotted around so even when more people joined it wasn’t crowded. No Nandos seating arrangement here!
After walking around the hut and giving back my empty cup, I took a stroll around the additional seating as you leave the refreshment area. A few things caught my eye on the way in, so I thought I would stop by and have a peek. And I’m glad I did. there were two hand made chainsaw carvings, which were lovely, and didn’t look out of place. They had two benches either side so you could relax here and admire the attention to detail, whilst watching to world pass you by.
Seeing as I had evening plans, I had to leave the forest earlier than planned but stopped off at a little pub on the way home called The Cowdray – which was lovely and no one batted an eyelid at the lone traveller. All in all, it was a lovely day and I would recommend it to anyone, especially those with children. Let them get muddy, take your own picnic and enjoy a very cheap but memorable day out. It’s also amazing how much peace you get just but turning those damn phones off as well.
It really is true, the best things in life ARE free.
And just for some happy feeling cheese, I give you Luther Vandross & Janet Jackson. Don’t say I never give you anything