Day out: Sherwood Forest

13 Nov

My earliest ambition was to be one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men.  At the time I was unencumbered by worry about gender — I was probably eight — and felt certain that a Merry Maid would be just as welcome to shoot dun deer, rob the rich to buy cheese and good ale, and sleep under a greenwood canopy.  I read my Howard Pyle Adventures of Robin Hood cover to cover close to a hundred times.

Up rose Robin Hood one merry morn when all the birds were singing blithely among the leaves, and up rose all his merry men, each fellow washing his head and hands in the cold brown brook that leaped laughing from stone to stone.

I was hooked.  All my writing instructors have been stuck with the effect of Pyle’s rolling, running sentences in my own writing — and my dreams were never the same.  Robin was my kind of hero.  I read Pyle’s Epilogue not realizing it was the tale of Robin’s death, and cried bitterly.  I refused to read that chapter again for years.  To be entirely honest, I only read it one more time — and cried again, with tears as biting as if my heart were still eight years old and freshly broken.  I won’t read it, even today.  Some dreams shouldn’t die.

Would you like to imagine how excited I was for our trip to Sherwood?  Yeah.  We stayed in Sherwood Pines Forest Park, part of the woodland complex that is the remnant of the former royal hunting forest.  And now I’ll stop talking about it and you can just … take a walk with me.

Ahhhhh … beautiful.IMG_0935ed
These carved posts were everywhere.  No clue what they were about.  The dampness created a sorrowing tear-drop effect on many of the faces.IMG_0968ed
Fairy houses!IMG_0970ed
Sherwood Pines has an uprightness to it.  A mild, well-tended wildness.IMG_0975ed

Sherwood Forest Country Park, part of the same area, is … wilder.  More knotted and knarled. 

The Major Oak.IMG_0989ed

Shimmering birch.IMG_0994edA story so familiar I could recite it in my sleep.  Although my Robin looks a bit more like Errol Flynn.

IMG_0912eedYup.  Yours truly shoots an arrow, dressed not quite in Lincoln green (but what can you do).

Having the opportunity here in England to walk through the dreams of my childhood has been extraordinary.  My own children have not even read any of the Robin Hood stories, and yet, when they do, they will already have the memory of shooting arrows in Sherwood Forest as part of their personal history.  That feels extraordinary, too.


8 Responses to “Day out: Sherwood Forest”

  1. aubreyepp November 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    So cool! I never read these! Should I experience them for the first time ever alongside my children?!

    • Monique November 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

      🙂 Check out the book here: Originally published in the 1880s, so the style is that beautiful olde-timey romantic victorian. But find an illustrated copy, if you buy, it’s worth it. I like to think Anne of Green Gables would have read (and acted out) these Robin Hood stories. ❤

  2. Daily Presents/Cadigan Creative November 13, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    I love this photo-essay, friend. So well-written, lovely imagery, and you look fabulous shooting your arrow 🙂

    • Monique November 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      Such fun. Glad you could come along via the blog. 😉

  3. Uncle Jack November 14, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    I read Robin Hood in the fifth grade. My favorite scene is shown in one of your photos.

    • Monique November 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      “Never did the Knights of Arthur’s Round Table meet in a stouter fight than did these two.” Did you read the Pyle stories or something different? I still take such pleasure in them!

  4. Beakers846 November 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Why did we not visit Sherwood Forest when we lived in the UK? It looks beautiful!

    • Monique November 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      It is! Great kids’ play areas, too. Next time you’re back … 😉

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