Helping in the woodworking shop at Dudmaston a few weeks ago; Richard, forest crafts ranger called me over, ‘Hey Simon look at these!’ He had made four woodland creatures out of odd offcuts of wood with interesting grain patterns. A hedgehog, a rabbit, a squirrel and an owl ‘Ranger Richard’s Woodland Chums! – bet there is a story in that’. Happy to take on the challenge I went home and allowed the muse to fill in the gaps.
The next time I was in the workshop I handed over a printed version of the story on one side of A4. ‘That’s great – we can use that at the Christmas craft fair’.
Last Saturday and Sunday there was a big craft fair at the NT property including a stand with all sorts of wooden items made by Richard and his workshop team. Each of the creatures was sold with a photocopy of the story – I had some great feedback about it with people asking if I wrote children’s books, a lady who almost became tearful and said it was lovely and another lady who bought several of them for her grandchildren complete with story.
Maybe some future audience members for a story walk or session.
And the story itself? –
Ranger Richard’s Woodland Chums
Many many years ago in the woods at Dudmaston there was a huge old hollow tree. The hollow inside the tree was a favourite meeting place for four friends, Hedgehog, Rabbit, Owl and Squirrel.
Sometimes a combination of magical things happens, Midsummer, a full moon, a lone drummer beating a rhythm on a Shropshire hill – the old hollow tree was granted a wish….
…‘Please I would really like it if I could be young and beautiful again!’ With the last of the drum beats on the hill, faster than the flick of a dragonfly’s wing, the great tree was, indeed, young and beautiful again. No one had noticed that our four friends were trapped inside. Over the years, the tree re grew, bigger and more impressive than ever.
But this year, there was, once more, a full moon at Midsummer and a lone drummer played on a Shropshire hill.
But by now the tree had grown old once more. It was unsafe and was felled and harvested by the ranger team. The trunk of the old gnarled tree was taken to the Estate yard for processing into firewood.
Ranger Richard, a little bit magical himself, could see that, trapped deep in the timber, were our four woodland chums. With careful hands the creatures have finally been released from their hiding place and are looking forward to finding new homes…….