Into the Woods

Last Wednesday, the Boy messaged me the cryptic question: “Your next free day is Sunday, right? Up for an adventure?” Details were less than forthcoming. All I was told was that we would need some easy-to-carry snacks, some rugged boots, and to be ready by 10:30am Sunday morning. So of course we agreed for him to camp at mine after work on Saturday.

Naturally, the Boy shows up with a mountaineering backpack. In the backpack were a homemade quiche, a tub of made-from-scratch mince pies, two pairs of hiking socks, and a first aid kit (which I forgot to top up with plasters). Though I woke up on Sunday feeling a bit sneezy, we set out from mine at 11am to catch a train, destination still unclear until we pulled into Chipstead station.

Banstead Wood is a rambling stretch of ancient woodland in Southwest London, still within the Oyster zone but far enough away from the center that you can see the stars at sunset. The Boy grew up not far from here, and this was his childhood stomping ground — a maze of rambler trails dotted with chalk and flint and the remains of old roman roads; ancient trees crowding close on every side; robins and crows and even the tap of a nearby woodpecker; and of course, doggos.

So. Many. Doggos.

Something new the park added recently was a handful of tributes to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. At the entrance to the park, we found Lucy standing guard next to Mr. Tumnus’ lamppost, while further in, Aslan and the White Witch took shelter in the trees. I even managed to take a peek into a very curious wardrobe…

Stepping through the wardrobe in Banstead Forest

We spent the day exploring, climbing, and planning how to survive the coming apocalypse, sitting down for lunch perched in a fallen tree. You know what’s amazing? Quiche. You know what’s even more amazing? A homemade goat’s cheese and caramelized onion quiche eaten in the middle of a goddamn forest. Finish that off with some still-hot jasmine green tea and an also homemade mince pie, and you’ve got a picnic fit for royalty.

Before heading back into the big smoke, we stopped for a drink at the Rambler’s Rest, a cozy little pub just down the road from the station. Lounging next to us by the fire was the biggest English Mastiff I’ve ever seen. Turns out we’d chosen our day well, as the pub was planning some renovations starting on the 20th. I look forward to going back there when they reopen.

And so we hurried home under the stars, the air gone bitter with frost. Back to work tomorrow, but all the better for one brilliant day, well spent. Sometimes life’s not so bad.

Published by thatexpatgirl

Traveler, Reader, Writer, Scribbler. Go ahead and email me at

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