A beautiful, sunny, autumn-crisp morning yesterday took me to London’s Dulwich Park.
I grew up in this part of the world, so the changing seasons in this oasis of the capital have always served as a backdrop for my journey through life.
I certainly spent much of my childhood there, less so after I grew up, but it is lovely to pop back when I am visiting.
When I was little, I learned to ride a bicycle in Dulwich Park.
When I was I young adult I crawled around it behind the wheel of a car after passing my driving test, too scared to go out on the main roads.
I learned to roller-skate on its slopes (not very well!), and if I cast my mind back more than 30 years I can remember the watermelon ice creams they sold in the cafe in the middle of the park.
I have hunted for frogspawn in the streams that criss-cross the grounds.
In the autumn I used to search for fungi around the bases of trees and in the leafy borders.
My greatest hope was to find the mushroom hunter’s pot of gold, a scarlet-capped Fly Agaric, speckled with white flecks.
No such luck, they are rarer than you may think, but I have spotted the odd Panther cap.
The squirrels in the park yesterday were as tame as they were when I fed them nuts as a child, they seem to enjoy co-existing fearlessly with us.
A new addition, certainly since my very younger days, are the green parakeets which can clearly be heard squawking in the tree-tops, they are, however, much harder to see.
Look closely though, and you will be able to spot their exotic colours darting through the highest branches.
I have always loved nature, at all times of the year, and yesterday I was reminded of just how special it is to take a few minutes to “connect to source”.
Passing a massive Turkey Oak - so called because the species, Quercus, is native to southern Europe and Asia Minor - my mother mentioned she sometimes spends time with the tree sharing her problems.
Not as daft as it sounds.
Standing beneath its boughs brought an imposing sensation of being totally connected to the environment, with whatever is out there, a visceral feeling of something greater.
Being immersed in nature has a powerful psychological influence,there is no doubt.
Indeed, it is prescribed as therapy for those suffering from depression and anxiety.
Feeling the calm and peace that only the natural world can bring, I stood beside the Turkey Oak, watching life teeming in the branches -squirrels, bees , wasps, birds.
I myself was also reminded of how beautiful the world around us is.
Dulwich Park is also home to a plethora of trees, lymes, Horse Chestnuts, Oaks and firs and conifers which at this time of year are full of cones.
I picked one up and brought it home in the hope that I can get some seeds out and try to grow them.
That is all I brought back though, because I believe plants, animals and flowers are best watched from afar and left where they are found.
“Take only memories, leave only footprints” - Seattle, Chief