Walking with Ettel

This is a special post for a dear friend who passed away last week. Ettel was a regular reader of my old blog, she would always comment and we would also exchange emails. Ettel was an elderly lady who lived in a care home and she couldn’t get out and walk in the woods herself, she walked with me, through my pictures and stories and she knew and loved Fizz. I have come  up with a new style of post to bring the experience of walking in the forest closer, I  am sure that Ettel will enjoy  this one.

I should explain..

Thirty years ago I lost my own Mother. I remember walking home from the hospital, feeling devastated. I thought that was the end, I would never see her again or hear  her voice. I was wrong.

My mother never left me. I see her regularly in my dreams and it is just as real as the day. I hear her voice and hold her hand and when I wake I have an overwhelming feeling of well being and peace.

I don’t believe that we can ever lose people any more. Our loved ones are always with us, This post is for Ettel.

The walk

The walk:

It was not a very nice day. I had planned to walk out in the fields, where the grass is ridiculously long and Fizz has to bounce along like a little cartoon skunk but today it was too wet.

We are walking a country lane, just outside of the farm. We are sheltered from the worst of the weather here.

(Hawthorn blossom)
Hawthorn blossom

Hawthorn blossom

(Red Campion)
Red Campion

(Cow Parsley)
Cow Parsley

The animals that aren’t:

As we walk on I am expecting to come across this Badger Sett.

Badger Sett

Badger Sett

Badger Sett


Then the mystery deepens..


There has always been a sett here, my Landlord remembers this sett being here when he first arrived thirty years ago and some of these setts can be a hundred years old. Why would they abandon it?

Strangely on Saturday my landlord asked me a similar question. There is a large Rookery in the Oak trees opposite the farm and in the last week the birds have all left. He said pretty much the same thing, “There has always been a rookery there, why would they just leave?”

I do not know.

Walking on:

(Creeping Buttercup, broad leaves…)Creeping Buttercup

(and a ribbed flower stalk)Creeping Buttercup

(Meadow Buttercup, narrow leaves…)Meadow Buttercup

(and a smooth flower stalk)Meadow Buttercup

Something wonderful:

Then we found a new animal.

The Roe Deer is one of only two species of deer native to the UK (Red Deer is the other) but they have been absent from The Forest of Dean since the sixteenth century.

According to the Verderers of the FOD they are advancing towards the forest from the east with known populations now established on the eastern edge of the forest and we are on the western side of the forest.

The video is awful but it is enough for a positive ID and so I have to post it.


These are the first Roe Deer that I have seen since arriving in the forest eighteen months ago and an exciting find.

Unfortunately this is the woodland at the end of the lane.  There is a lot of forestry work going on here and so I wouldn’t really want to leave the trail camera here just now.

TimberWalking home:

(Wild Garlic)
Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

(Herb Bennet)
Herb Bennet

(Herb Robert)Herb Robert

(Herb Fizz)Herb FizzA Kill:

(Sparrowhawk kill, feathers plucked)
Sparrowhawk

(Fox kill, feathers broken)FoxAlmost Home:

(Spindle flower)
Spindle flower

(Spindle bark)Spindle Bark

Finally:
Black Bryony.

Until today I only had photographs of the berries.

Black Bryony

These are the male flowers, they grow in pairs on the vine.Black Bryony

The female flowers grow in clusters, like grapes. They have not opened yet.Black BryonyAs soon as it stops raining I will get some better pictures of these flowers.

That is it. I am sorry that this post took me a little longer than anticipated. It took a long time to live the post, edit it, upload and write it.

I know that my dear friend would have enjoyed it and it would have filled a pleasant morning for her. I wish, I wish that I had written this a couple of weeks ago but it is done now.

Ettel will always walk in the forest with us now 🙂

45 thoughts on “Walking with Ettel”

  1. I lost my mother 15 years ago and at the end it felt like a relief for her. My father died 30 years ago and that was sudden and traumatic for those left behind. You never lose them. They made me the person I am today and I can still ask for advice. I carry photos and have a letter from my father close by. Allowing someone to join you and Fizz on your rambles is a great gift Colin and one we all appreciate.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Andrew 🙂 The gift involved was given by Ettell and received by me but there is a fair chance that others will benefit. She showed me life through her eyes and gave me understanding. How do you thank somebody for that. Pass it on I suppose. There is always something new to learn 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you John 🙂 I am thrilled to find Roe Deer and they are fairly close to the farm. I just have a little nagging doubt about where they came from. They were not that far away from me, they looked up and saw me then put their heads down and carried on eating. Our Fallow would have froze on the spot, watching me and then darted off. Maybe these animals have seen people before or maybe Roe are just not as timid as Fallow. This is unfenced woodland and they are not captive, (not now anyway) They are lovely to see.

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  2. Thank you for your beautiful post. I am always so glad to see people sharing the depth of their sweet humanity. Great photos, as usual, and glad to see Fizz. I have a question about hawthorne- is it sensitive to heat or other extremes? We tried to grow some here in Pennsylvania, only it just couldn’t handle the 90 degree (Farenheit) summer. My daughter was so disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lora 🙂 We call it the Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) but you probably know it as European Hawthorn. It’s native range runs from Sweden right down to Morocco and Turkey, it can and does handle your climate very well, you must have just hit a bad combination of events. Here it is a really important wildlife plant feeding lots of insects and birds but in North America it is often considered an invasive pest. It can hybridise with your native Crataegus species and competes for space with your other native plants. I don’t really know how much of a problem it is out there. I have seen pictures of North America and it looks like an awfully big place that could easily accommodate a few more trees. The trouble with any non-native species is that they don’t usually have the same wildlife benefits outside of their native range. Some do, The Buddleia or Butterfly Bush is an invasive species here with fantastic wildlife benefits so just because a plant is non-native doesn’t always mean that it is a bad thing. I don’t know about your insects but I have heard that one of the problems in North America is that your birds prefer the fruit to their own native trees and so spread the seed. So it obviously does bring some wildlife benefits. It is a beautiful tree and if you want it in your garden then you should try again. I have a friend in Ballarat, Australia who has it in his garden and it gets bloomin’ hot over there 🙂

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  3. Thank you Colin, for such a beautiful tribute to Ettel. She loved to read your blogs and learned things from each one. Several times when I went to visit she had a new picture of Fizz up on her computer as her wallpaper. You write so well and show us so many things so clearly, that she did feel like she was walking thru the woods with you and Fizz. You gave her great pleasure for a long time, and I will always remember that and be grateful to you for the friendship you shared with her. And all that you share of yourself with each of us. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Nancy 🙂 I will try not to be too emotional when I tell you that it was Ettel who gave to me and not the other way around and I can never repay that.

      The whole world of blogging revolves around give and take and it stresses me. Lots of people like my stuff and I can’t always pay them back, there just isn’t time. I don’t care how many followers I have or how many likes I get, I am trying to write things down so that I don’t forget them. I am not a real blogger and then Ettel comes along.

      When she first posted a comment I had to ask, “Who are you, I can’t find your blog?” Ettel was genuine and she didn’t ask for anything in return. She read my blog because that was what she liked to do (lots of people do, I know, including everybody who has followed me here through the difficult last couple of months) Ettel wasn’t a fellow blogger, with Ettel I knew that she had nothing to gain, she very simply spoke the truth. So I believed everything that she said.

      She was in a position to greatly influence a couple of handsome young nature detectives and believe me she did. Nobody else could do that. She will always be with me because I will always remember the lessons that I learned from her and I will always write for her because that is what she taught me. She taught me about herself and of course that there are many other people like herself. Sometimes empathy doesn’t just come naturally, it has to be learned and it has many levels.

      Your mum was a clever lady and I will miss her 🙂
      Colin

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      1. She was pretty computer savvy, and became more so when she went to the nursing home, in a wheelchair for the first time. Everything on the screen enriched her life and she spent a lot of time exploring the internet. Her computer was her link to the world, and the whole world was there for her. She often called nurses to come and look at what she was looking at, your blog among those things. She didn’t really understand how blogging works, and definitely wanted to see everything about Colin and Fizz and the Forest of Dean. So I just emailed the blog to her each time you posted one, and she could read them an easy way without getting confused or missing any.

        You said she gave to you and you can not repay that, but you already did repay it. You repaid it every time she got to walk with you and see flowers and bugs and boars and all the other marvelous things you post about: things seen thru your eyes in a place where she couldn’t go…except thru you. Thank you so much.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A nice tribute to your friend. I can tell Ettel was loved, and she is probably pleased to have inspired more walking.

    The deer are an exciting find! I’m partial to the herb Bennet – what a lovely little flower. And that herb Fizz, you got an excellent shot. 😉 The photos of the feathers broken or plucked is so interesting. Sometimes Colin I think there is no end to the things you know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Crystal 🙂 The things that I know are not half as exciting as the things that I am about to find out. I do hope that the wind drops today. There are so many things out there that need to be photographed and they are just whip lashing about in the wind. Grrr…. (Yes, Herb Bennet or Wood Avens, as it is also known, is absolutely lovely 🙂 )

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  5. A lovely tribute to Ettel. My father died 5 years ago but I don’t think he is here any more. I loved him and he me but he really didn’t want to be here any more when he died; he was looking forward to heaven. I think of him most days but there seems to be nothing of him left here. However, when one of my cats died and I was heart-broken my cat came back and rubbed round my legs as he used to do and that was such a comfort.
    I am so pleased you have found Roe Deer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Clare 🙂 Maybe it depends on how badly your heart was broken. My Father died five years ago and he never comes to me. My Brother does, he was my older brother but he died young. He was the most gentle person that I ever met. I see my dogs too.

      I hope that I will be like your father and not haunt anybody. I have no fear of my own death but I would like to be picky about the circumstances, If I can’t be ate by wild animals (first choice) then I would like it to be comfortable. Maybe your dad had no fear and you understood that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you are right. He had no fear of death only fear of incapacity and being unable to do the things he wanted to. My mother noticed as soon as he had died that he had gone completely. Thank-you Colin.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful walk in the forest and a lovely tribute to Ettel, I’m sure she is enjoying walking out again now that she is free of her earthly body.
    Very exciting about the roe deer. A bit worried and puzzled by disappearance of the rooks and badgers. Was this near the logging? Perhaps they were scared off by the chainsaws?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eliza 🙂 I don’t think the Crows could have been scared off. The rookery was in the trees that line one of the busiest roads in the forest. It was very noisy but when you walked along that road the sound of the traffic was drowned out by the noise of the birds. As to the Badgers I don’t think they could have been disturbed by Humans, hardly anybody walks that path. I have just had my camera out there for ten days and apart from myself there were only four other people that used it in that time. For a good part of the year it is so overgrown that it becomes impassable. There is no sign that the sett has been disturbed. I am well aware of the dangers posed to some of my animals by Human cruelties, that is why I try to keep my real identity and location anonymous, I would never publish the location of a Badger sett on the internet. I would see any Human disturbance immediately and there are no such signs. So why have the animals left? I am discounting the idea of “Omens of impending doom” that is just silly. It is either a strange coincidence or maybe it is somehow connected to the Beast of Badger Alley (whose legend grows) Time will tell 🙂

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  7. Sorry to hear your dear friend has passed away, but I’m sure she is with you in spirit and will be thrilled at the sighting of the Roe Deer.
    I’m delighted to hear that your blog gave her so much pleasure in recent times.
    That’s one of the joys of blogging and sharing your day – giving to others who may not be able to get out and about themselves.
    I’m sure Ettel enjoyed your walks in the woods just as much as I will continue to do in the future.
    The natural world is a beautiful gift that many are unable to experience in reality.
    Your lovely photos provide vision for all absent friends and your words paint pictures for those who cannot draw for themselves.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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