If You Go Down To The Woods

This morning, to blow away a few cobwebs, I took a bracing stroll around the grounds of Temple Newsham House. I’m not sure how I attracted all the webs, all know is they started propagating around the time I commenced sleeping in my dad’s wallet.

My walk, wrapped in several layers of clothing against the elements and with my ‘Middle Aged Mix’ playlist on the iPod, was just the tonic I sought. Not long into the wander the viscous spider traps were no longer and I felt re-invigorated.

I didn’t visit the 15th century Tudor-Jacobean mansion itself; moreover I took a meander of its surrounding bridal paths, woods and coffee shop. I can’t give a proper culinary review on the café as all I had was a bottle of water and a Double Decker bar…… If it’s any consolation, though, I can recommend the water and Double Decker.

Parts of the grounds of this historic house in East Leeds were designed by renowned 18th century landscape architect Capability Brown.

Brown, who famously never used the word undulation, was the ‘go to’ man when the aristocracy of the time wanted their gardens to reflect opulence and status. If they weren’t that bothered they got old Frank from Wetherby to undertake a substandard version.

According to my research, Temple Newsam has been labelled by some the ‘Hampton Court of The North’. A relation of mine was less glowing, saying “It’s ok, I suppose…. And will you stop flaming sleeping in my wallet, Gary!”

My walk took me to areas of the vast grounds that were virgin territory for G Strachan esq. This included one lengthy forest path with dense foliage, trees and a cottage being visited by a wolf in a red hooded cape.

As I walked through the dense overhanging greenery in the wood, I reflected that it possibly looked exactly the same in Capability Brown’s era a few centuries back.

The lack of light and tree lined makeshift path through the forest made it feel like Robin Hood and his Merry Men may appear anytime, or I’d be greeted by seven little blokes singing “Hi Ho”, with a Disney princess.

Image result for temple newsam forest

I comforted myself with the knowledge that even if Robin Hood and his Merry Men did jump out from behind a tree I’d be ok. After all, from what I recall he stole from the rich to give to the poor.

They’d be pretty peed off hijacking me and ending up with £1.70, a snotty tissue and an iPod containing a ‘Middle Aged Mix’ playlist.

Anyway, I didn’t bump into the scoundrel from Sherwood Forest and his buddies in the forest. There was no rendezvous with dwarves, a wolf, Little Red Riding Hood or Snow White either.

The only person I did meet was a kindly old woman with a wart on her nose and a basket of apples.She was searching for her stepdaughter to bestow on her the basket of apples.

Despite not being able to help her locate the girl, she still generously gave me something to eat….. I’d have preferred an apple instead of the wart off her nose, but its the thought that counts I suppose.

As I exited the ancient forest, back into the 21st century a song called ‘Start’ by the 1970’s/80’s English band The Jam was playing on my iPod. Following recent developments in Western politics, these lyrics in the tune struck me as pretty apt to how things seem to be currently evolving. In particular the line ‘Loves with a passion called hate’:-

It doesn’t matter if we never meet again

What we have said will always remain

If we get through for two minutes only It will be a start!

For knowing that someone in this life

Loves with a passion called hate

And what you give is what you get

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