I’ve not lived in Folkestone all my life. I actually grew up on Joyden’s Wood estate near Bexley. Many days were spent running around, cycling and generally exploring the ancient woodland less than 200 yards from our front door.
My grandparents still live in the area and yesterday we headed up there to enjoy a tasty lunch and spend some quality time together to celebrate my sister’s birthday. Having eaten at Birchwood Park Golf Club (tasty food if haphazard service) we changed into suitable shoes, i.e. not the 3-inch-heeled boots that I was wearing!
You can access the woods from the golf club, which is pretty handy, so we left the cars there. Following the footpath took us off the exposed golf course and into the shaded woodland with its dappled light.
I love being in the woods as you get a proper feeling of being ‘outdoors’. Hubby was like a big kid, swinging off trees, climbing up banks and throwing stones into ponds just so he could take slow-mo video on his iPhone! He even found a den!
The woods have changed a bit since I was a kid. The Woodland Trust has installed information boards and created walks. Previously you could wander around for hours and had to rely on your memory to get back out where you started! Now you simply have to follow the waymarkers and look out for the handy boards with maps on them.
Running through the middle of the woods, which is a combination of broadleaved and conifer trees, is the Anglo-Saxon Faesten Dic. This is a defence structure that would have protected the settlement over 1000 years ago. The strong dike is now a scheduled ancient monument and you can learn all about it in Joyden’s Wood by reading the interpretation boards.
We passed our old scout hut and popped out of the woods just up the road from our old house so we had a nose. Apart from the silver birch tree out the front now being about 50ft tall (it was once the same size as me!) the house looked almost the same as it did when we moved out over 13 years ago.
It’s really strange to see your old home that is filled with so many memories. But what I have come to learn, having lived in a few houses since then, is that memories are not attached to the brick and mortar, there are in your mind and your heart forever.
I’ve always been a bit of a ‘wherever I lay my hat that’s my home’ kind of person. I don’t tend to get homesick, even when away travelling for 9 months, and will quickly refer to wherever I’m staying as ‘home’.
Having walked through our old estate, past the shop where we used to fill up on penny sweets, past the library where I read all the Point series of books (remember those?) and the doctor’s surgery where my sister and I would go with Mum in the evenings when she was working as a cleaner, we headed back into the woods to walk back to the cars.
Going back into the woods to get back to the car, we left the past behind and walked back to the cars and the present. It was time for tea and birthday cake back at my grandparents’ house! We all sang ‘happy birthday’ as she looked slightly mortified! Happy 27th birthday little sis. God, that makes me feel old!
The next time we’re going to be in the woods, we’ll be in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District. In 3 weeks’ time, hubby and I will be whizzing through the trees on a zip trekking adventure!
What’s your favourite thing about the woods?