I have decided to walk in the woods and see if the three boys I met the last time we came here constructed anything? At about dusk we reached the pond that they mentioned and I noticed a sturdy wooden fence surrounding it on three sides. I thought that would prevent any swinging travel across it and I could see no sign of any ropes or swings. Cosmo walked into the pond to take a drink and stumbled and took a bit of a dipping as he lost his footing (unusual for Cosmo). I had my wellies on and I retraced his steps to see what happened to him. I gingerly stepped into the pond and moved forward slowly to find the ground underfoot fall away from me very sharply into deeper water, but I managed reverse with a bit of a splash and obverted a major flood over the top of my welly.

We walked on to the tree where I saw the three boys, by which time it was almost dark and I was a little surprised to find nothing, no swing, no rope, nothing like it had never happened.  We walked on and for some reason I decided to walk into a thick part of the woods. Dark now,  and I am listening to music wearing by head phones. Music in the middle of a dark wood at night, that is a powerful experience and I said to myself that one picture would never be able to convey how powerful an experience it is, it would need to be a whole body of work to convey this. Then I brush into a twig which drags across my eye and is uncomfortable for a bit. The Green Fields of France (written by Eric Bogle) comes on, it is one of the saddest songs I have ever heard, so powerful in the woods with the line ‘and did pipes play the flowers of the forest’…. I am filling up on the verge of tears it’s so moving. Next thing I know  my foot is sliding from under me, with my hands deep in my pockets and I’m unable to keep my centre of gravity and I’m sort of running when I hit the floor. My head phones fell out and it’s very dark. Cosmo’s ahead I can hear him walking. All is well and no damage done.

Now these minor accidents that keep happening to me reminds of something told to me by two old women dressed up as witches/soothsayers in a living museum in Stockholm. Buildings from all over Sweden were reconstructed on this site and actors dressed up providing historical info about the people who may have worked or lived in these buildings. I walked into this peasant log house of 600 years ago to find these two witches inside. They told me that they had a whole array of herbal medicines and tinctures and then asked me if I was feeling unwell or had any health issues. Rather too game for this I said I had a persistent cough of many months now. They reached up picked a bottle down from a high shelf, took the cork out and said, that would cure it and that I should have a swig! I sniffed it, ah..mm and then looked for a label or a clue…Vodka…they told me. I spied a coiled snake in the bottom of the bottle and pointed to it…. a Viper …don’t worry dead….. they replied. I was a little put out and said that my cough was not that bad actually and handed back the bottle with a sheepish grin. A powerful tonic apparently…good for a lot of ailments!

Now this is the part that freaked me out a bit and made the hairs on my neck stand up. They asked me if I had ever been in the woods at dusk, getting dark, and tripped over..or cut my thumb on an axe because it was too dark to see properly….. you know little accidents!

Yeh, exactly that was happening to me this evening, I fell in the pond, poked my eye out, slipped over already. Now the reason for this apparently, the witches told me is because the woodland spirits come to life at night, and humans must return home at dusk for their own safety. Not welcome into their night time world, yours by day ours by night and we share that way. Only trouble if you outstay your welcome in the woods at night. The spirit world was respected back then, so much so they told me, that after your evening meal is washed up, don’t whatever you do open the door and just chuck a dirty bowl of skanky water out. It might go all over a spirit….then there would be trouble, they would make life hell. Open the door and announce that in two or three minutes you will chuck the water out, so move away and I mean no harm to you . Then again please a second warning a minute later I mean no harm or insult. Then finally a third time you can throw the water out without upsetting them.

Even in our world of scientific explanations, it’s still a very powerful experience walking in the woods at night. How has the fear not eroded, would my phone work out there, GPS signal even?

No… I knew the way back, even in the dark and I had Cosmo with me. I enjoyed the music in that setting tremendously.

(two drawings  showing the crossing over into the spirit world of the woods).

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Me and Cosmo are walking along a very straight wide track in the woods and I can see a small group of people in the far distance and it takes quite a while before we will get there. But you know – Cosmo he is always busy interested in squirrels and rabbits and is constantly searching, looking, listening and following a trail of some sort. By the time we approach this group I have no idea what I’ve been thinking, just kind of arrived out of a daydream and hear myself saying ‘that’s impressive’.

‘Yeh he’s a nutter’ is the reply.

This is a group of three teenage boys who have cycled into the woods on their bikes, with rucksacks as if they are on an expedition? An old fashioned scenario I thought. One of the boys has climbed up a tree which has its first branch about 20 feet or even more above the ground and above that  is another branch with a snapped rope hanging down, which I remember had a log tied to it.

‘He got up there like one of the black men with the rope tied between his feet’

I doubted that as the tree looked very smooth, and said ‘yeh  Pygmy’s climb trees to get fruit and that’.

‘No, he didn’t really’

I got that feeling that these boys were going to bombard me with confusing contradictory statements, neither were interested in Cosmo and wanted me to move on quickly.

I quite liked this situation and did not want to leave quite  so quickly, I thought I might try a little harder to engage with them and  I said, ‘No……… I know how he got there, he’s climbed down from the sky! Do you even know who he is’?

They saw how bizarre that statement was and smiled and said, ‘no we know him’.

Things relaxed and these boys explained that after this they were going to make a swing to cross over the deep pond along the track a bit. I said I knew exactly where that pond was, I didn’t know how deep it was, but I saw a dog run into it and the dog didn’t sink! What’s happening here are you mending the rope swing. They were, and the guy in the tree was edging closer to the rope and he cut it off with a pen knife. I said I wanted to take a photo of them, as  I was writing a blog about walking in these woods and asked them to stand at the foot of the tree and pose. They seemed very happy and almost interested in the blog. Asking what was it called, how long had I been writing it. I said it was called Another walk with Cosmo. They pointed at Cosmo who was waiting patiently for me to move along, asking if it would come up if you google it. They said he’ll stand up on the branch for your photo. We agreed not to go that far and me and Cosmo left them to it. We will follow up another day and see what they made.

I keep thinking of Jack and the Beanstalk now, climbing down from the sky with bags of gold he stole off the giant. When I got home googled the boy who fell from the sky. Turns out he did and landed in Coventry. He spoke Urdu, had no idea where he came from or what community he had belonged to and did not know his own name or how old he was? Apparently a victim of people trafficking.