The Heart of The Woods

I have seen countless Valentine’s posts on twitter, instagram and facebook this year. All of these posts begin with something resembling, ‘I don’t condone Valentine’s but…’ I was going to start this post with something similar, but actually it’s quite nice to have a weekend where you push other stuff aside and spend more time than usual staring into your loved one’s eyes, or something like that. As it happens I don’t believe in Father Christmas, but I still spend roughly a week every year drinking and eating too much and wearing jumpers with his face on them. Neither do I believe in a giant rabbit who delivers chocolate eggs, or a fairy that steals your teeth, but have always been happy to indulge in the relevant festivities.

Our day wasn’t typically mushy. I bought Hayley a knife and she bought me a cardboard projector for watching films on your phone. We then noticed it wasn’t raining so made for the woods. I wanted to test out the weight of my pack that I’d be lugging around for the next few days, and the strain on my hamstring, which has been suffering since my M25 walk.

We chose to do a reverse loop of Selsdon Wood. I led us off into what looked like the entrance to a path. It was not. We clambered over what seemed to be a graveyard of Christmas trees until we eventually found a path. I nearly lost Hayley to a hole in the fence, but managed to tempt her back with the promise of a woodland coffee.

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We set about looking for a place to make camp, and test out the ‘stove’ I picked up for a pound in Trago Mills. The paths were so incredibly muddy, we sank with every step. The weight of my pack threatened to send me to the bottom of wherever the mud was coming from. We trudged on through gorse and sparsely leaved trees.

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We came to a cross roads. There was a dry bench for our camp and blue sky above us. The woods looked huge as the sun splintered light through the trees in all directions. I rummaged around in my bag for coffee, the stove and a pot. I then foraged a few dry twigs from under the tree next to us. Having never used one of these stoves before, and having only paid a pound for it, I was half expecting it to melt or dissolve. Never again shall I doubt the quality of Trago Mills and their selection of goods. Within minutes I had a roaring fire, with a pot of steaming, sizzling water atop it. It’s the little things.

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For a moment we were adventurers, brewing coffee in the wilderness. Then a dog walker strolled past and we were just walkers having coffee in the woods. We packed away our things, leaving no trace of our pop up café, and picked a route out of the woods. On our way, we found the perfect spot for an overnight camp. The floor was a carpet of fallen leaves with a naked, but sheltering tree for a roof. We made a heart in the leaves and left, with the thought of coming back in the Spring.

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Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad. You don’t have to buy heart shaped chocolates or overpriced roses (I did both of those things). Of all the traditions that we’ve created, it’s one of the least confusing.

So… happy Valentine’s Day!

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