Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wytham wandering

The purpose of trees is to provide blessed shade as you stroll along on a hot summer's afternoon. Any other purpose is useful but secondary. Put enough trees together and you get woods. Put the woods on a hill overlooking Oxford and you get Wytham Woods.

It's an access-controlled SSSI, and even though I don't think there are any reasonable bars to anyone getting a permit, it makes it just a bit more peaceful and remote than, say, Shotover (despite the best efforts of our friends from Brize Norton to bring a little low-level noise into our lives). Every now and again you turn a corner and suddenly find yourself with a panoramic view of the dreaming spires, and wish you'd brought the proper camera rather than just the phone.

The phone camera also failed to do full justice to the hitherto unknown pastime of caterpillar bungee-jumping.

That glowing blob is not a crack in space-time: it is in fact a small green caterpillar about 3cm in length, dangling in the middle of the road by a strand of silk so fine it seems to be levitating. Closer up:

And there were a lot of them. Whether they were trying to get down or up or just dangling to pass the time of day, I have no idea. However they do it at about face level so it's a good way of grabbing the attention of passers by.

Current reading is Avilion by Robert Holdstock, last of the Mythago Wood series, which gives all sorts of added resonances to walking through a piece of undisturbed ancient woodland, and makes you realise that living somewhere like this:

... could be a very bad idea indeed.


  1. That's incredible, did the caterpillar look like it might be forming a Chrysalis?

  2. We did wonder, but surely a chrysalis is meant to be in a secure, out of the way location, not dangling in mid air in the middle of a track?

    Also it's only the camera that makes them glow like that ...

  3. Nineteen-Delta.5:40 am

    Sounds like an ideal place to wander. I wonder if Robert Holdstock was thinking some idle thoughts one day while walking through gloomy woods, when 'ping' A lightbulb went on in his head, and his writing career really took off. 'Mythago Wood' is one of my favourite books. though I read him first when 'The Dark wheel' was incuded in a computer game back in the mid-eighties. -How old does that make me feel?

  4. Isn't Mister Holdstock ready to try something new? After all, a spooky wood only has so many permutations of the tale. - We get it now... Can we move on please? Unless the Ryhope family came upon hard times and had to sell it to property developers, who then chopped it up for lumber with spooky repercussions. - But now it sounds like an X-files episode to me.

  5. Mr Holdstock is actually dead, though come to think of it that never stopped Messrs Hubbard, Herbert and probably other authors whose name started with H. However I have to admit, 3/4 of the way through Avilion, that the same thought is occurring to me too. I'm only proceeding with it because I'm meant to write a review.

  6. Big fan of Holdstock. Didn't know he was dead. Didn't know there was a final volume of Mythago. Mixed feelings ensue.

    If you grew up with a certain mixture of Garner, Cooper, "B.B." et al., the mysterious British woodland tale has an inexhaustible charm, I find.

  7. I wouldn't disagree with any of that.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.