Went to Camp Mohawk, to the Home Education group, with my mother and the children. The children took off straight away for their friends, and my mother and I stayed talking in the car, eating our lunch and chatting. Although we felt like a bit of a lie down, we decided to go for a walk, in the beautiful countryside on Crazies Hill.
The Camp is at the top of the hill, and we walked a little way down to get to a meadow, and took the public right of way across it. Almost immediately we came upon a scattering of primroses, followed by wild violets. A peacock butterfly fluttered past.
The weather was warm but dullish, and we took the left hand path, which took us through the woods.
The woodland is ancient, but has been scarred by a lot of plantations. You can see the difference immediately. The deciduous woodland has scatterings of violets, bluebells, wood anemones, lesser celandines, wood sorrel, there are birds and insects buzzing around. We took a small path off the main woodland path, because my mother was feeling adventurous, and gradually the path disappeared, and we found ourselves picking our way down a hillside covered in bluebell plants, although there were very few bluebells in evidence.
My mother is 68, but was forging ahead, and took me through some spongy ground, past a dead fox, and proposed that we should make our way over the trickle of water below by climbing across a fallen tree trunk, which was covered in moss. I declined to make a fool of myself falling 12 feet into the boggy mud around the water, and retraced my steps, but she was determined to explore and struck off to the right up the other side of the valley, which was pine plantation.
Here, it was very very spooky. There was no undergrowth at all, no birds singing, and even the wind seemed still...the trees didn't move at all. Many of them seemed to be dead, and there were a large number fallen over, prevented from rolling downhill by the fact that they were caught against other trees.
What was really odd was that many of the upright trees appeared to have had fires lit beneath them. There were signs of camp fires against the different trees. I began to sonder if someone had tried to set the trees ablaze....
We ploughed up the hill to an area where there was no discernible path. Oh my mother was convinced she had one, but as it inconveniently passed by every hawthorn bush in the vicinity, I was sure that only four legged creatures 2 ft or less in height could possibly have used the path regularly.
Eventually as the bushes and trees became more dense, and it seemed we weren't going to find another path, we again retraced our footsteps. As I passed down the hill I picked up a number of stones that were very smooth and almost shiny, and realised that they seemed to be sea washed....
When I got home I started looking at information about the area, and saw that they were likely to be sea washed...as the area around Reading was under water for a large part of its geological history. We are going to go back next week.