The trees have shed their summer greens and shiver in the crisp autumn breeze; perfect for a woodland ramble. Bouncing through the piles of golden leaves, we set off hunting for woodland treasure. The damp mulch and rotting branches have become home to a colourful array of fungi. First we discover some orange spindle fungus; so beautiful, it looks more like it should be growing in a tropical sea.
Rolling down the hill we kick aside the dry leaves searching for faerie rings and pixie seats. We find some fabulous fungi and peep in faerie doors. The girls gently touch each little toadstool while we guess what kind of faerie folk live under each.
With each season, the whole feel of the woodland changes, swapping the knee deep emerald carpet of ferns for a spiky scattering of sweet chestnut cases and crinkling of crisp leaves. The light beaming down on the woodland floor increases into the shade, as the recently dense tree canopy thins. We gaze upwards following the flight of the buzzards, new patterns of blue are forming between the branches and changing by the minute, as each leaf drifts down. Our eyes follow the buzzards’ graceful gliding out to the field beyond and we set off to join them.
Stepping over the brambles, we pick and eat the last few blackberries then climb the stile to our secret field. While the girls run, circling the open space as the buzzards circle above, I marvel at the trees along the woodland edge, laden with berries and nuts. Chestnuts, hazelnuts and elderberries have replaced the hedgerow berries and fruit of just a month earlier.
The excited girls race back and collapse in the magic clover patch. We decided it must be magic as we find four leaf clovers there every time we search; that’s a lot of wishes! We hunt, counting leaves, while the girls get their breath back. My littlest finds today’s four leaf and wishes for a pink unicorn – we’ll have to wait and see if that comes true.
Then, tired and hungry, we wander back up the hill following the smell of camp fire smoke. A hearty tea of chicken and vegetable stew has been bubbling on the fire. It fills hungry tummies as the flickering fire warms away the Autumn chills. We watch a splendid sunset fade the blues to fuchsia and deep orange, then three tired little girls happily snooze in the back of the car, as we once again say goodbye to our little woodland.