Monday, 23 May 2011

The Enchanted Places*

We walked in Chelwood Vachery, and went, 
as Pooh might have done,
'down open slopes of gorse and heather, over rocky beds of streams,
 up steep banks of sandstone into the heather again; 
and so at last, tired and hungry, to the Hundred Acre Wood.'

'You didn't discover that it was a river until
you were right on top of it, for it had carved itself
a deep channel through the red-brown, sandy-clay soil.

If you climbed down to the water's edge you were quite invisible
from the meadow above you.

Here the air was cool and richly scented.
The water, brown and mysterious, moved with
unhurried dignity.'

'... a huge ancient beech, one of a group of about half a dozen.

 It looked as if over the centuries it had grown tired of holding
its arms up to the sky and had allowed its lower branches to droop.

One branch in particular came out horizontally
 then curved downwards to rest its elbows on the ground.
And at this point you could sit on it.
Or you could stand on it and walk a little way along it
and then jump off into the soft carpet of 
dead leaves spread out below.'

'Opposite the orchard were the fields and woods we visited on our
flower picking expeditions.
This wood for primroses, the ash plantation for orchids,
the larger wood beyond for bluebells,
the top of that field, along the edge of the bracken,

for cowslips. 
Primroses, bluebells, orchids, cowslips, violets and foxgloves:

Nanny and I would gather a whole basketful.
And it was here - more especially than anywhere else -
I would find that splendour in the grass,

that glory in the flower,
that today I find no more.'

* Extracts from Christopher Milne's autobiography,
dedicated to Olive Brockwell,
'Alice' to others
But 'Nou' to me.

'To remind you of those enchanted places
Where the past will always be present.'

I've put the song here because I loved it and 
played it again and again as a child, 
not knowing that Christopher Milne, 
the original Christopher Robin,
 hated it and was tormented by its repeated playing
by his neighbours at Stowe school.
Eventually he broke it into a hundred fragments 
and scattered them over a distant field.


  1. It looks so beautiful. It is indeed an enchanted place. Here in the frozen north my foxgloves are only just starting to come into flower - and now we have rain....again!

  2. What a perfectly enchanting woods! The reflections are especially mesmerizing.

  3. I never did read that memoire, so I'm happy to have your illustrated version. It's lovely.