"The woods are lovely, dark and deep"

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, 1923.

 The city seems far from Sydenham Hill woods

The city seems far from Sydenham Hill woods

Some days I want to lose myself in nature. Googling "ancient woodlands London" I was surprised to discover Sydenham Hill woods only 20min walk from my home in Crystal Palace in south east London. 

Entering the woods I soon found it was welly boot territory as I slipped and squelched along. Sounds of the city soon disappeared. Replaced by whisps of wind through the branches, the alien shriek of parakeets and the drilling of woodpeckers.

Finding the perfect spot to sit, on the edge of a muddy puddle, I then explored with my two pens clicking, in an almost meditative state. Carefully travelling across great trunks, through ivy, into the new spring undergrowth and down the path to the abandoned rail bridge. Trusting my hands to capture what I saw.

   
  
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   The view towards Lordship Lane Station, painted by Camille Pissarro in 1871.

The view towards Lordship Lane Station, painted by Camille Pissarro in 1871.

What struck me was the variety of trees in such a small area - tall oak and hornbeam, hazel trees and exotics from the old Victorian Gardens. Amongst the bushes were traces of the past. Including a bridge from which the painter Camille Pissarro once painted The view towards Lordship Lane. A great steam train approaching the now eerie tunnel.

As my drawing developed it reminded me of a line from Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken, 1916:

 Two roads in a wood

Two roads in a wood

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - 

I took the one less travelled by, 

And that has made all the difference" 

Torn between science and art, I faced two roads and took a path and now I'm hacking across the bushy middle bit trying to find the other path or maybe cut a new one.