Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Forest of Dean

The Forest of Dean is a place of natural beauty and poetry as well as mystery and magic. It is the home of beasts and fairies, men and elves. All these elements form the warp and weft of Forest history. Nature and Supernature combine to create this multi-dimensional environment only equalled within the liberties of Old London Town.

Many have come here with the lust for land and domination but none could subdue the spirit of freedom and equality permeating the very air itself and coursing through the bodies of these unique and enchanted beings. Soon they would be absorbed and became part of this body, adding and enhancing the whole.

Every molecule of every breath you breath in the Forest has wafted through the hair or blown the fires or cooled the blood of a thousand Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans who walked these trails.

Within these woods many characters of legend and myth have breathed and walked.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Small Pool

Stop 5 – A Small Pool

This pool, formed artificially by the diversion of the stream, will eventually fill up by silting and the growth of plants, but meanwhile gives the chance for water plants and animals to live. The tall alder trees by its edge usually grow close to the water. The roots of these trees have large reddish swellings on them which contain bacteria which help the roots get nutrients – a difficult process in water-logged soil. The stems lying around are in many cases attacked by fungus which will result in their decay into dust. Bacteria also help in this decay.

(Follow the path on the other side of the stream downhill and soon you should cross the brook and climb up the other side to the open ground.)

As you travel along you will see the cut stumps of trees. Trees stop growth each year and this leaves a ring. You may be able to count the rings and see how old these trees were at felling.

Squirrels jump from branch to branch hereabouts. Kestrels hover over open ground seeking for mice. A large winged buzzard may be seen circling, also seeking prey. A strong ‘musky’ odour will tell you if a fox has passed nearby.

A number of the trees have ivy climbing up them and wild honeysuckle clambers over others. Neither hurts trees, unless they circle and strangle them, which honeysuckle is more likely to do.

Through the trees dark spruces can be seen in the distance. So many greens can be seen: dark green spruce, yellow greens of the grass, and various greens of ivy, oak and other trees. Why are they all green? Why are plants green?

This text was written by B. V. Cave of the Wilderness Wildlife Centre, Mitcheldean and M.J. Dunn, forest Warden, for the Forestry Commission 'Boy's Grave and Forest Trail'. © 1974

Bowsie's Forest of Dean Adventure (part nine)

After a couple of days of the special ointment and the green spotted bandage and lashings of sweet tea, Bonnington’s nose healed beautifully.

Nurse Florence removed the bandage for the last time and took a good look.

‘This is much better.’ she said.

‘Good! Thank you very much.’ said Bonnington.

‘What do you want to do today?’ said Emma and Jane and Bowsie.

They had come to see Bonnington every day while his bandage was on, but they couldn’t understand anything he said. Now, with the bandage off, his voice was clear again.

‘It’s lovely and sunny today. Let’s go and sit by the pond. It’s just a little way down this path.’ said Bonnington.

‘Goodbye Nurse Florence. Thank you for everything. We’ll be back later.’

They followed the path down to a beautiful quiet spot by a little pond.

‘Oh, it is nice here.’ said Emma and Jane.‘Yes, it is, ‘ said Bowsie, ‘but what are we going to do about all this litter?’.

Friday, December 21, 2007

King Arthur's boyhood was spent in the Forest of Dean

The Forest of Dean is a place of beauty and history as will as mystery and magic. It is the home of beasts and fairies, men and elves. Every molecule of every breath you breath in the Forest was here when the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans walked these trails. Within these woods many characters of legend and myth have breathed and walked.

…and none of these heroes is more entwined in the tapestry that is the story of the islands of Briton than Arthur.

Between the departure of the Romans and the domination of the Anglo-Saxons, Arthur was born: Son of King Uther Pendragon and Lady Igraine.

Arthur was brought to the Forest of Dean by Merlyn to protect him from the sorceress Morgana le Fay. Merlyn carried the baby Arthur to the cave, now bearing his name: King Arthur’s Cave, on the Little Doward near Symond’s Yat. The cave was well protected below the Hill fort. Merlyn’s next task was to find a family to bring up the boy Arthur.

The woods were more extensive then and covered all the land between the Severn and the Wye.

As he watched the blacksmith hammering a horse's shoe or fashioning the blade of a sword, neither knew anything of his lofty birth nor could guess at his illustrious future.

Arthur would run with the deer and climb with the polecats and pine martens. He became fast and agile on the ground and in the trees. He respected the animals and they him.

A fraction of the blood that ran in his veins was from his faerie forefathers, so he was aware of the elven folk that inhabited the Forest and understood their ways. Sometimes, he was allowed to cross that gossamer web that separated the two folk that inhabited the Forest, and live amongst them for a while.

Bowsie's Forest of Dean Adventure (part eight)

First of all, let me take a look at Bonnington’s nose.’ said Florence the Nightingale.

‘Oh dear! How did you do this?’

‘I got my nose stuck in a a shiny cylinder thingy.’ said Bonnington.

‘You should know better at your age!. We’ll soon have you cured. I’ll just rub on some of this special ointment and you’ll have to keep this bandage on for a two days.’

‘Hmnnnmm! Nghgiigj! hnnnmm!’

‘I know you won’t be able to speak or eat, but it will be worth it when you’re better.’

‘Hiimlkklklk! Uyyu! Gneee!’.

‘Cup of tea! If you can’t go without a cup of tea, perhaps you may take the bandage off for a couple of minutes. ‘

‘But you be sure to wipe your nose dry and put the bandage back on.’

‘ssHiiwaaaynccy’ ooo!’

‘You’re welcome.’

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bowsie's Favourite Games: What kind of Animal am I?

This game is fun to play with your friends or you can play it with your Mum and Dad, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles!

Attach a picture of an animal to the back of one of the children or grown-ups playing the game.

Be careful not to show the picture to the person because they have to guess who they are by asking questions.

Ask the person to turn round so that everyone else can see what the animal is.

The chosen person then has to discover who they are by asking questions.

For example:

‘Have I got four legs?’

‘Have I got stripes?’

‘Do I live in Africa?’

The other children can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Take it in turns. It’s great fun!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fairy Stories (i) (by William Shakespeare)

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moone's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Deciduous Wood

Stop 4 – A Deciduous Wood

‘Deciduous’ means the leaves fall off in Autumn, evergreen trees also shed their leaves, but they always have a new set on first.

Here is a little holly tree, common enough. Do you see that some of the leaves are marked as though an animal has eaten between the layers of the leaf? This is indeed what has happened. A fly maggot has done this damage. In the wild, such diseases are kept in balance, so that plants would not normally die. In cultivation, diseases often get the upper hand. In the wild, certain tiny wasps attack the fly maggots, and birds also winkle them out of the leaves.

The woodland floor is here carpeted with the plants characteristic of an English woodland. Bluebells, wood sorrel and celandines are here. Such plants produce leaves early in the year to make use of the sunlight before the trees shade them too deeply. They are well adapted to their life.

As you go along you will see that many trees have grey crusty lichens on them. This shows that the air is reasonably pure here. They will not grow in smoky towns. Lichens are curious plants, half fungus, half algae.

You now pass into an open area recently felled and replanted; there is a luxuriant growth of grasses. As you cross the man-made ditch you will see its bottom consists of heavy clay. The clay was formed by the action of ice in the ice age grinding the surface rocks into a heavily compacted clay mass.

Keep to the path by the edge of the Oak Wood and turn towards the stream.

Grasses have greenish flowers like rushes but have flat leaves. The flowers have pollen blown from plant to plant by the wind to fertilize the female parts to produce seed, quite unlike other flowers which use insects to transfer the pollen. The pollen blown in the wind causes hay fever in some people.

This text was written by B. V. Cave of the Wilderness Wildlife Centre Mitcheldean for the Forestry Commission 'Boy's Grave and Forest Trail'.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bowsie's Forest of Dean Adventure (part seven)

Bonnington looked around the hospital ward, which was spread about the clearing amongst the Oak and Beech trees. The sun shone through the branches and the clearing was bathed in mottled golden light.

Nearly every patch of grass was taken. There were rabbits and wood mice. There were squirrels and dormice. In one corner was a whole flock of sparrows in loud conversation with a flock of blue-tits. The noise was like an orchestra tuning up.

He had never seen it so full! At first, he not could see anywhere to lie down. Then he heard a familiar voice.

‘Over here’, the pine marten called. ‘There’s a space next to me.’

‘What are you doing here?’ asked Bonnington.

‘I burnt my foot on a cigarette thrown from a car window’, said the pine marten, ‘but it’s getting better already thanks to Florence. She’s the best nurse in the Forest.’

As Bonnington settled down on his comfortable bed of moss and heather, he looked around the other beds and saw all the animals were injured: cuts and bruises; burns and blisters; bandaged arms and legs; eye patches – EYE PATCHES!

‘What is going on?!?’ Bonnington asked Bowsie, Boddington, Emma and Jane who were busy plumping up his bed, and making sure he was comfortable.

‘I don’t know’, said Bowsie, ‘but I am going to find out and whoever is hurting all my friends had better look out!!!’

The North Wind Doth Blow

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the robin do then,

Poor thing!

He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing

Poor thing!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How large unto the tiny fly (Walter de la Mare)

How large unto the tiny fly
Must little things appear! –
A rosebud like a feather bed,
Its prickle like a spear;

A dewdrop like a looking glass,
A hair like golden wire;
The smallest grain of mustard-seed
As fierce as coals of fire;

A loaf of bread, a lofty hill;
A wasp, a cruel leopard;
And specks of salt as bright to see
As lambkins to a shepherd.