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Return to the Forest

Four days before we are due to go on holiday with Lily, Rose and their families, my lovely Aunty Vera - Ma’s elder sister - dies. I’m absolutely hollowed by grief and a cumulative sense of loss. Another part of myself has drifted away; someone else who tucked me up when I was a little girl and kissed me goodnight has gone. ‘But, Mama,’ Rose reminds me, gently, ‘think of the new little ones coming along.’

Our holiday, it seems, has come at just the right time. Lily and Russ are on their knees from worrying about Bee and baby Iris who both suffer terribly with repeated ear infections and, in Bee’s case, severe hearing loss. They badly need some light relief. Fortunately, Rose, Si and little Joy are doing well, but all of us, once we arrive at our Forest Holiday location in the Forest of Dean, start to feel better.
It’s exactly a year since we were last here. We had such a magical time that we decided to return (no, I’m not on commission!). Last year, Joy was learning to walk, this year baby Iris is here and is at exactly the same stage her cousin was then. Next year, Bee will be at school which will mean taking breaks in school holidays. How time slips away! 

For now, we make the most of the present. The holiday cabins are cosy and well-equipped. Ours sleeps eight in the main cabin which is adjoined by a wooden bridge to a separate treehouse for two. The location is lovely - both on site and the surrounding area - and there is something to keep everyone happy. Once again, the hot tub is a firm favourite; I can personally vouch for the fact there’s a lot to be said for sitting in hot tub on a cold January night, looking up at the treetops and drinking Pina Colada complete with cocktail umbrella (thank you, Si!).

All too soon, our break is over but the forest has one more treat for us before we leave. Snow has blanketed the forest floor during the night, hanging thickly on the trees to create an enchanting fairy-tale scene outside. There’s just enough time to explore and throw snowballs before we all head home with memories to treasure and, for me at least, a renewed appreciation of all that is precious.


Clare Chase said…
What a moving post, Chris - I'm so sorry for your loss, and for the worry over Bee and Iris. I'm really glad you've had a chance to get away from it all and take stock. The location and the hot tub look amazing! As ever, your words are uplifting even when you're going through tough times - a great reminder of what really matters. x
Chris Stovell said…
That's really kind of you, Claire. Thank you for taking the time to comment and for being so supportive. Cxx
Chris Stovell said…
Sorry about typo - Clare! xx
Liane Spicer said…
So sorry about your aunt, Chris. My mother's sister died 3 years ago--she was also my godmother and was just always there from the start--so it's a strange world without her in it. Very sobering, this having to face the march of time.

I love, love, love your forest hideaway! How perfectly perfect for healing and making new memories with the ones coming up behind. Hope the little ones get over their ear issues soon.
Chris Stovell said…
Hello Liane - and happy birthday to you today (apologies for the late reply). That's it exactly, Liane, the sense of losing someone who's known you all your life and yes, sobering to face the march of time. Our forest holiday was so, so lovely - it makes me smile every time I think about it. Thanks so much for your good wishes for the little girls. xx

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