I'm so lucky to have a beautiful woodland practically on my doorstep. Truth be told it's one of the reasons we moved here - having a green and natural space nearby was up there with good schools and transport links.
As soon as I walk into a wood, the stresses and strains dissolve away, my heart-rate seems to slow and I can breathe deeply. I can forget about my workload and deadlines waiting for me at home, or the pile of dishes on the drainer waiting to be cleaned.
There's scientific evidence that forests have a positive effect on mental and physical wellbeing, but I don't need medical research to tell me that.
Any forest will do for me, but my local one is a place I return to time and time again. Whether it's walking the dog, an outing with the family or an escape on my own.
Walking on the cushiony soft floor, built up of layers of spongey moss and mulch of leaves is a million times more relaxing than pounding a pavement.
It's an oasis of calm, you'd never know you were minutes away from a busy main road and a stones-throw from a sprawling housing estate. The trees absorb the modern-day noise and commotion, leaving only a cacophony of birdsong and the sound of squirrels cawing from their leafy dreys way up high.
Without fail, every time I'm here I hear the illusive Woodpecker rat-a-tatting on a tree in the distance, his hammering sending confusing echoes around the forest. Only once have I ever caught a glimpse of his red and black plumage, but one day I'll spot him.
If I'm alone, without the rumpus of my daughter cavorting through the leaves, or the scent of the dog wafting through the air, sometimes I'll catch sight of a solitary deer grazing from the forest floor. He'll spot me and turn on his heels his white tail bobbing away into the distance.
This is a deciduous woodland, but even in the depths of winter there's always so much to see. The green luminescent moss and lichen clinging to trunks and branches bring year-round soul-gladdening colour.
I love the mix of old gnarly dead trees, blown over in long-forgotten storms, and whippy new saplings springing up with youth and vigour from the fertile ground.
There's not a season I don't adore in the forest, and this time of year it's all about spotting new life peeking through. The shoots of bluebells are coming up, getting ready to carpet the floor in an azure display. Then it will make way to the wild garlic, the air will fill with a pungent heady aroma and I'll come with my basket to collect leaves and flowers for pesto. Later in the year we'll suck sweet nectar from honeysuckle flowers and pick plump blackberries from the bramble, and in the winter we're dazzled by the ruby red berries on the holly trees.
Once I'm through the gate, I'm enveloped by the ancient space. A feeling of calm and safety washes over me. This place is timeless. No cars; telephone poles, street lights or satellite dishes. In my mind I'm an ancestor of myself from a bygone time.
This woodland has been here since pre-Norman times, and we're still enjoying it today. If you value the tranquility of our country's natural spaces, get out there and enjoy them and fight to protect them.
If you want to visit Flitwick wood for yourself, you'll find a map here.
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