It gives me hope a place like this.
A small brown sign outside the Queen’s Hotel, Church Road the only local clue.
Stambourne Woods this way, down that gravel drive and through the gate.
On the house next door another sign gives red framed warning of a moose who isn’t there.
This sliver of tree and shrub between Fox Hill and Stambourne Way is one of a number of local woods, some are private, some still in public hands, scattered around an area that centuries ago was more heavily forested.
Stambourne wood though is no late echo, or relic of the Great North Wood that once spread itself across these hills.
Instead it is a place permitted to stand, allowed to fill a derelict space where, once upon a time, Victorian Villas stood, looking down on Croydon.
Winding on and off the main path, we bask in sun dappled gaps and stop to play a while with a tyre swing on a frayed blue rope.
Woodpigeons unwieldy crash about in branches overhead, suddenly alarmed, suddenly content.
Squinting at the gardens of the surrounding houses, willing them to vanish, we find a hole between some roots that might belong to a fox.
Flattened squash cartons and other discarded plastic bits tell us we are not alone.
Then Lime Kiln Place marks another time and we find ourselves in Bromley.
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