There was something special about Bluebell Wood. Stepping into
it was like walking into another world. Not a very big wood,
only about three-quarters of a mile long, but big enough for
a young girl to dream an afternoon away.
It was like nothing else on Kerridge, on a slight slope. It
was surrounded by a rendered wall, and bordered by a path of
fallen leaves. Another wall separated the path from a sloping
field where cows from a neighbouring farm grazed.
The wood was airy and light, the overhanging trees providing
shade from the rain or sun. Few people used the path as it was
really the only way to get to Swanscoe Farm or Kerridge End.
The only sounds were birdsong, the whispering breeze from the
trees, the lowing of the cows and an occasional whistle from
a train in the valley. Everywhere was peaceful and quiet.
Springtime was the time to visit the wood. The buds which had
been swelling during late March and April suddenly burst into
leaf and a faint, green haze, like a fairy mantle, cloaked the
entire place. Then on a day of enchantment, the bluebells were
there. Not a sign of them one day and on the next there was a
drift of blue carpeting the ground.
There is nothing quite like the first glimpse of these beautiful
bell-shaped flowers. Around the trees, along the borders of the
wall, every nook and cranny was a glory of delicate blue, white
and lavender coloured flowers, drooping their beads in a modest,
almost Victorian way. Their pale green spear-like leaves provided
enough support and colour to make the shimmering iridescent flowers
even more beautiful. The clear shafts of the sun filtering through
the bare new leaves of the trees caught the wonder of Spring
at its best.
We never picked these dainty flowers, because we knew that once
they left the shelter of the wood and the ferns which gave their
roots the moisture they needed, they would die. We were careful
not to trample on them, and admired them from the walls on which
Halfway along the path, an underground spring emerged. A moss
and lichen covered spout allowed the water to slowly drip on
the path and disappear again. The water was crystal clear, cold
and so refreshing. It had a champagne sparkle not found in tap
water. We children used to cup our hands and let the water gently
run into them before drinking it. Mystics of old probably labelled
the water The Elixir of Life. When Grannie lay dying, she asked
Dad to bring her some water from Bluebell Wood. Maybe she thought
it had healing qualities, who knows? I know I have never since
tasted water like that from the spring in Bluebell Wood.
I liked to go down to the wood whenever I could, to dream an
early summer afternoon away. To find a place where a few stones
had fallen from the wall, providing a seat from which to drink
in the beauty of colour and the elusive perfume of the bluebells,
this was my escape. Life was very practical in our village and
people didn't have much time for dreams. Therefore it was wonderful
to disappear and let the imagination take over. It wasn't hard
to visualize another world, an enchanted world where money was
of no importance and those far-away lands could be near at hand
to visit and enjoy, if only in my fantasy.
I always wanted to visit the wood at night, when the long evening
twilight was fading and the moon was at its fullest. The silvery
light would show the wood in a different setting - a glimpse
of white unicorns stepping daintily on their tiny hooves, a couple
of white rabbits scurrying off - maybe to the Mad Hatter's tea
party, a glint of nocturnal birds flitting through the trees,
an owl practising his love call to a distant mate, an outpouring
of song from a nearby nightingale, and perhaps, if one looked
hard enough, there may have been a fairy ring and some ethereal
figures preparing for the night's revels.
Such dreams, such innocent pleasures - in such an idyllic setting.
These are the memories of Bluebell Wood.
© 1985 Enid Simpson