Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Familiar Tree

The Major Oak *

Yes, a familiar tree, not a family tree, which is what my genealogist blogger friends (and many fellow Sepians) would recognise.The above mighty oak is one which I have known since childhood. It is known as The Major Oak and my family and I would enjoy visits to the ancient woodland where it grows in Nottinghamshire. On one occasion, c1964, we took my friend along and my Dad snapped us inside a much smaller but still impressive tree.

I wrote about this particular tree in Going Back to My Roots in 2011:

"Here I am aged about ten years, with my childhood friend, Pearl, on a visit to Edwinstowe to see 'The Major Oak'. I was born in Nottingham and many of our family outings in the 60s would be to Sherwood Forest, legendary home of the outlaw Robin Hood. The forest is home to hundreds of ancient oaks like the one above, but of course the Major Oak was the most famous. It is over 800 years old and has a history all of its own. I was brought up on stories of the oak being the hiding place or larder of Robin and his Merry Men, and I never failed to feel excitement and wonder whenever we visited. Just walking into the wood and getting that earthy tang of trees, fern, bracken, fungi and moss was enough to lift the spirits."

In 2014 The tree was voted England’s Tree of the Year; here is a link to the Guardian Newspaper article about it.

A few years ago I 'became the tree' in my imagination for a creative writing exercise, where I imagined my special relationship with the legendary Robin Hood. Here is the piece I wrote. I hope you enjoy it.

They have made me part of his legend. I stand in the heart of Sherwood Forest, my massive girth dwarfing my younger brothers. My twisted branches, home now only to woodland creatures, were once his childhood hiding place. Then the forest was deep and dark and not a place to venture lightly, but he was always fearless, climbing to my uppermost branch, to survey the land. A skinny lad, fleet of foot, quick-witted, he always had a gaggle of followers, hanging on his word and aping his actions. Later, when he had fallen foul of the law and with a price upon his head, he would whisper his secrets and fears to me. Once he brought a lovely young woman by the hand, and laughingly drew her into my hollow trunk, and there.....but no, I will not tell.

I would watch them as they sat on my gnarled roots. The scraggy boy now grown tall and muscular, with a commanding presence, his playmates replaced by trusted and devoted men. They would practise their archery in the nearby clearing, eat, drink, laugh and sing together, the young woman watching with adoring eyes. 

It was not all merry, there were dark days too; violence, bloodshed and eventually, death. Centuries have passed and men have woven stories about his deeds until no-one can be certain of the truth anymore. I know, but I will never tell; I have sworn to keep his secrets for eternity.

Join us at Sepia Saturday this week, where our prompt picture is a wonderful old image of the tree which stood at the centre of England in Leamington.**

*Paul Buckingham [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
** Shared by Cornell University Library on Flickr Commons


  1. I wonder if Lord Byron, when a boy at nearby Newstead Abbey, or on holiday in Southwell carved his name on the tree

  2. A beautiful tree and I loved your story! You are, without doubt, a talented writer! Have you written other things and/or have had them published?

  3. I love the photo of you in the tree and also your story.

  4. A lovely old tree, and amazing that it has survived, considering the ill treatment it's received over the centuries. We visited Nottingham in the 1990s but only got taken to the Robin Hood museum and not to Sherwood Forest, which was a shame, but my husband's uncle who lives there felt the theme park would be more interesting for the children, especially in mid-winter.

  5. Ah, you are part of the tree post in two ways, photographed sitting inside an old tree, and then becoming a particularly ancient and knowledgeable one! Thanks for sharing such unique views of trees!

  6. A great post, and a beautifully descriptive story. It reminded me of my schooldays and writing a creative essay where I was an old Victorian penny telling my life story - going to the Crimea in Florence Nightingale's pocket - for some reason that stuck in my mind!

  7. Throughly enjoyed this. You put me in that place and time.

    Somewhere in my postcard collection I have one of this tree that a pen pal sent me in the early '60s. She lived in Nottingham and we wrote for a brief period of time until I sent her a birthday gift. She never wrote back. I always thought it was a nice wallet that I sent and could never figure out how it might have offended.

  8. I cannot think of a single "important" tree in our family or in any of our photos. I enjoyed the Robin Hood story from the tree's POV.


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