Fantabulous! The only way to describe our day out at the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve in Oxford. My boys and I packed a picnic, took our sketch books and spent an enriching afternoon in this nature filled, atmospheric, and rather mysterious woodland area.
Silently listening, excitedly looking and energetically climbing, we soaked in the glory of the green glades, the bird songs and the strange roots and branches that took the form of characters in C.S Lewis’ famous Chronicles of Narnia. The boys were hooked from the minute I mentioned they might meet Mr. Beaver.
The resident heron gave us a great performance from his corner of the shaded pond, elegantly stalking his fishy targets with precise accuracy. Several poor creatures, whose burrows we stumbled upon, were briefly serenaded by the sounds of children’s voices greeting and singing to them. As we walked across bog bridges, considered the existence of bog monsters and admired the prehistoric horsetail weeds one of the boys exclaimed: ‘Mum, this is by far the best place you’ve taken us to!’
They spent the best part of an hour in the roots of a tree. I did intend to use the words ‘in the roots’, because that’s exactly what it was. Part of the hill that held this tree secure had eroded, leaving a fascinating, gnarled tangle of roots into which small bodies could climb so entering a whole new world. I wished I was small enough to get in there myself.
We sat hidden among the bushes by a small babbling brook and got out our water colours. The boys asked the difficult question about how to draw totally clear water. We had a go.
They climbed yet more trees, leaving me to paint in peace for a short while. Oh the tranquility of the gently chattering water, the echo of bird symphony, the dappled green shades of sunlight through leaves and the quiet laughter of happy children in the tree tops. What a treat! A day to remember.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to the nature reserve and Mr Beaver by two teachers I work with. We took sixty children to the reserve and it was just as magical and inspirational for them as it was for me and my two boys. If ever you are in and around Oxford on a pleasant day, the C S Lewis Nature Reserve is definitely a great place to visit (its free too).