Squirrels and muddy puddle stomping

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We’ve just had the best holiday. We stayed in a forest in a log cabin for a week. Really in the forest, like proper hillbilly style. Amazing. I felt like Heidi. There was even a friendly squirrel eating nuts through the entire week, just outside our cabin.
Our friend squiggle the squirrel
We absolutely loved it. The girl child couldn’t get enough of stamping in muddy puddles, looking at bugs and choosing the very best stick. The boy baby just loved being in the carrier looking at trees. Mr MF couldn’t get enough wellie-wearing time and being outdoors and I even found a new passion for fungi. Honestly. I’ve become someone I used to mock. What the hell is this one?

Chicken of the woods, fry agaric, beef steak, oh yes, we saw them all. My personal favourite was the birch bracket. I am obsessed. Granted this will last approximately two weeks by which point I will have moved onto a new interest. A bit like my desire to sew, which lasted a new sewing machine and one bag I managed to make, with an enormous input from my mum (simple drawstring, nothing tricky), or my yearning to learn a language which actually passed before I decided which language to choose.

But this holiday, it truly was a breath of fresh air. We spent every day stomping around, finding things, looking at nature and feeling revived. We even had two walks with a forest ranger and learnt so much. I know, I’m like a testimonial from the marketing brochure.

The forest ranger – John – was amazing. I wanted to be his friend. In a way like if I chose environmental science for A Level I’d secretly be envious of his knowledge. He knew stuff, like a lot of stuff about that whole outdoor place. Did you know squirrels live in drays – like nests – but they’re rounder than birds’ nests and have two kinds, a summer one and winter one. And that fox poo is black and more bullet shaped than dog poo? Or that plants can change whether they’re poisonous or not, such as bracon. And animals will know whether they can eat it or not. I’m seriously hooked on this nature thang.

We liked John. We built up a whole world about John, that he was fresh from his environmental degree and eager to impart his knowledge to the new minds of tomorrow. That he lived in a small little cottage in the woods and made his food from the foraged cupboard of nature. Then read the classics by his open fire that was drying off his woolly jumper and socks for another day in the wood.

The whole holiday was totally what we needed after hurtling through the birth and early months of the boy baby’s life. Mr MF even made a bow and arrow from some sticks, a carrier bag and card. We all pulled together for the domestic chores and even the girl child busied herself tidying her toys. It was bliss. Well until Mr MF got food poisoning the day before we were due to come home. Then the inevitable sorting of our entire house that we had to once again pack up and strap on the Zafira akin to the van in the Hillbilly’s was down to me. And so was most stuff for the next 6 days while the barf machine threw up. Funny since we’ve finally cracked the boy baby’s reflux issue – an allergy to cows’ milk protein – joyous. I replaced one vomiting boy with another.

Moving out a little more to a rural area has been on our agenda for some time. We’ve sat on the fence between town and country and this pretty much made up our mind that we want more space, trees and mud. Something we both had growing up. We wanted John’s life. So before we headed home and I entered country locations into Rightmove we had a final little walk with John who, aside from thinking we were stalking him probably, started chatting about our jobs and where we were from. “Ahhh, look, a deer has been here, you can see the heart-shaped footprints” “look over there, a butterfly, let’s take a closer look” was closely followed by “I always wanted to be an actor, but there was just no consistently, so after my training I did this job.”

NO JOHN DON’T SHATTER THIS ILLUSION. But he just kept on going “I live in a town”.

STOP John, let us live in the lie that you have this storybook dream. And so now, back in our 70s semi I am searching Rightmove like a woman possessed rather than actually going for a walk to look for rare fungi.

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