Thursday, 27 September 2007

Those New Chestnuts

Like the our pal the American Bushman I’m noticing the shift in the seasons; London was decidedly nippy today, and the prelude to last nights fitness training was a drum roll of chattering teeth as we gathered at the park gate.
I’m not sure where it went (I’ve even been having salad for breakfast!) but I’d certainly let things slide in the last week. The regime of running, sit ups, burpees, star jumps and press ups seemed almost as tortuous as the first time I attended. I sweated like a carthorse and my legs felt like I had tree trunks tied to them. Having struggled and slithered across the wet grass praying for the strength to continue or at least a merciful end to the torment.

Having survived I started to think of myself as a rather heroic figure. Back at home; as I lay panting and moaning on the front room floor, I was quickly disabused of even this crumb of comfort. Mrs SBW delivered a ‘motivational’ lecture about the ads she seen on TV where tubby fellas of a certain age are putting their health at risk by eating and drinking to their harts content. She succinctly pointed out that it was my harts (fat) content that means it’s not a choice. I will be going back, rain or shine, like it or not.
As Carl the PTI keeps pointing out “there’s plenty of time to think about it later, just do it”.

The park is the site of an ancient hunting ground and although we’re denied the chance to shoot (or even trap) the squirrels or stalk the deer there are still some foraging opportunities to be had. I’ve only ever had chestnuts and puffball mushrooms, but my foraging days have only just begun there must be more edible species for a re-wilded bushwacker to find. The chestnuts are getting a little riper but the first sightings of the granny migration that signals their ripeness are still a little way off.
It would seem I’m not the only person visiting the park hoping to invoke the aid of the gods, I saw this offing left at the foot of one of the bigger chestnuts trees.

The history of the site as a place of worship is at least as old as the roman invasion/settlement of Brittan. Discovered in 1902 the park has the remains of the mosaic floor of a roman shrine, supposedly dedicated to Diana the Huntress an imported deity the Romans took to their harts.

The area is steeped in history; first as a hunting ground and later as a pleasure park for the royals. Just as the invasion/settlement of Virginia was getting under way Le Notre (the gardener to Louis XIV) was commissioned by king Charles II to design the layout of the park we see today. The avenues of Sweet Chestnuts were planted from Spanish seed and some of them are now 400 years old.

I was more than a little off in my tree-size-estimate this fella is 24.5 feet around the trunk!
More trunk reduction for the bushwacker to follow – thanks for reading everbody