Sometimes you discover a place on your doorstep that is simply magical. Ashdown Forest is just that and Emma and I went there last week as our ‘something new’ for the week. It took us about 40 minutes drive to get there from Brighton and as we drove over, I felt a million miles away from city life. It’s hard to imagine that you are even in the same county as it feels so deep in the countryside. Often after a long week of commuting and working hard, getting away to a bit of peace and quiet is just what we need – and we found the perfect place.
Our first stop was to head toward Winnie The Pooh Corner, in Hartfield, a beautiful and quaint village. Emma has just fallen in love with all things Winnie The Pooh after her Nanny gave her a book with 10 bees buzzing for the honey and then it counts down all the way to 1 bee. She loves it and has also started recognising all characters, so when she saw the figurines in the window at Pooh Corner, she was in heaven. We managed to arrive around lunchtime, so I thought it was a great idea to have some lunch first and the tearoom there is very sweet. It’s small but serves lovely sandwiches with really affordable kids sandwiches (plus Pom Bears – win!). Emma was itching to ramble around after the car journey but we just about made it through lunch.
After lunch, we had a look in the shop; I averted a bit of a tantrum at Emma not being able to take everything home with her. Next stop was to drive 7 miles along the road to Ashdown Forest itself for a real explore in the woods. Amidst the minor navigation problems that I usually have on car journeys, I managed to get myself into a little mess! I drove into the car park which was very rural and as I parked up the car, I drove into a ditch. I completely panicked as the wheels were spinning when I tried to get out, so we had to ask the information centre to tow us out. I’ll never know if the guy was just being nice at saying “oh don’t worry, it happens all the time”…
As we entered the woods, we had a ramble around and spotted a little den made of sticks, which I thought Emma would love but I think it was a bit dark and dingy for her. She spotted a long log that was wedged into the ground and climbed up for a bit of gymnastics. I’ve really noticed that with Emma at the moment, she is a fantastic climber and so strong, even if it makes me nervous to watch. She walked slowly along the log, and then explored the stumps of old trees too. The sun started to go down and she was so happy having a look at everything and jumping in the mud.
Emma soon spotted that there was a green area beyond the trees, so she ran quickly over to it, which had the sun beating down on it for those last moments of sunshine in the day. She had a good run around, even though the ground was quite wet from lots of rain recently and here we could see over the Sussex Downs. It was really beautiful and you got a real sense of how high we were. It was soon enough time to go home though and I carried Emma to the car as her legs were getting tired. As we reached the car, she ran back towards the forest obviously so a sign that it was an afternoon up to her standards.
Ashdown Forest is located on the A22 via the M23 from Brighton and is well known as being the home of Winnie The Pooh.