Reasons why Fran will avoid woods for the foreseeable future

I arrived back on Friday from a week in Wales with my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

(Just then, I typed 'groundchildren' instead of 'grandchildren', and soon you will see how ironic that is.)

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know not to expect post-holiday descriptions of lush landscapes, snippets of pastoral poetry or anecdotes about my daredevil surfing exploits. 

Oh, okay, then. Here's a waterfall. But that's all you're getting of anything postcardy.   

The weather forecast, as we left the Midlands to drive to Wales, was not favourable. In fact, we had packed raincoats, umbrellas, wellingtons and a book entitled 'First Aid for the Drowning.'

For most of the week, however, the rain lashed down during the nights, then in the daytime the sun shone, burning and shrivelling any exposed face or limb without mercy. We slapped on sun cream but not as fast as the sun slapped our cheeks and foreheads.  

Oh, all right, just one more photograph depicting an area of natural beauty. This is one of the Gower Peninsula's sandy beaches. Sorry it's spoiled by my socks and boots (not included in the natural beauty description). They are my miserable failure of an attempt to model alluring beachwear. 

Those boots came in useful, though, when one day we walked around a village then got helplessly and panicked-ly lost in a wood, having followed a right-of-way back to the beach only to find it very much a wrong-of-way.

Here's a recipe for you. 


Plump middle-aged female

Dodgy knee that's worse on downhill slopes

Two nights of lashing rain

A wood containing a wrong-of-way

A steep downhill slope

Wet trees


More mud

Much more mud than that. 


Take the middle-aged female and the dodgy knee and mix with all the other ingredients until hysteria ensues and the female is convinced she is in her final hours.

The groundchildren, needless to say, were - quite literally - in their element. 'It's like the Secret Seven,' my grandson squealed, navigating the spiteful tree roots and the quagmire with ease while I tried to persuade the earth not to suck me under. My boots acted like plungers. SCHLOOP. SCHLOOP. SCHLOOP. SCHLOOP. 

We made it half-way through the wood before we realised that the route back to the beach, if it had ever existed except on an OS map, was blocked. I had battled downhill on the mud, slipping and sliding like a skier, only not on snow, and without skis to help, and not in an enjoyable way. All that had kept me going was the thought of the fish and chips we'd promised ourselves for lunch when we got back to the beach. 

I know. Shallow as heck. 

'We'll have to climb back up and find another way,' my son said, having tried several routes but admitting defeat.

It would have been churlish to sob at that point, so I did it deep inside my soul and felt my liver and kidneys heave at the power of it.  

Grabbing trees for support, I hauled my plumpness back up the hill, sucky step by sucky step. My knee complained but not so loudly as it had down hill, even when my boots lost their grip and I risked tumbling backwards onto my two small grandchildren, crushing them deep into the swamp. 

It's not a story you'd want to relate around the fire years later over cocoa.

Grandma, tell us again about our cousins' skeletons in the swamp

When we emerged from the wood, the sobbing inside my inner organs began to quell and I felt a little Secret Seven myself, having survived the ordeal. Had someone in an apron turned up at that point with warm scones and a jug of fresh lemonade, it would have been even better.

My fish and chips were delicious, though, seasoned with salt, vinegar, and the pleasure of not having perished in a bog.  







  1. Anonymous23/8/20 11:29

    I feel for you Fran. I could imagine that scenario vividly as you described it. I had a similar experience in France a couple of years ago as our host strode ahead of us over uneven ground through a wood full of spiteful twigs not intended to be walked through. I hope the fish and chips made up for it...

    1. I don't know what it is about fish and chips, Sheila, particularly those eaten outdoors by the sea, that acts as a cure-all, but they definitely have special powers.

  2. Should we be concerned that the part that Eva and I found funniest was when you mentioned nearly squashing your grandchildren and that delightful tale that you wouldn't want to share around the fire ;) Loved the onomatopoeia words as well!

    1. Thank you, Martin. No, I don't think you should be concerned. It is perfectly normal to relish in stories about people crushing their grandchildren. At least, I think it is. Isn't it? No? No? Er ....

  3. Haha . Loved this, particularly the wrong - of-way and the recipe. Hope the old knee's OK now. Great stuff.

    1. The knee did surprisingly well, considering, but then as I've just said to Sheila, there's definitely something curative in fish and chips.

  4. Brilliant! Just brilliant. Thank you for sharing exactly what would have happened to me in a similar situation. I think you may have hit upon a lucrative line of merch. Alluring beachwear cum hiking gear for the advanced in years.

    1. I may just take 'alluring' out of the description altogether. One hates to build up people's hopes.

  5. I agree with a couple of your other replies, fish and chips DO have special powers.
    The trick with sunscreen is to slap it on liberally a half and hour at least, before you venture outside. This gives the water (spreadable) component time to evaporate so the SPF component can work its magic creating the barrier before the sun gets anywhere near you. Then simply reapply every two hours, or sooner if you have been swimming.

    1. Thanks for the tips, River. As for 'if you have been swimming', this will never apply to me as I intend never to don a swimsuit in a public place ever again.

    2. Me either! No one needs to see a "dumpling on legs" in a swimsuit (*~*)


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