You can just about park and freely outside the Creighton Road entrance to the wood in Muswell Hill, North London. Today the forecast was periodic sunshine with increasing heavy showers of rain. It bucketed down but we three friends met to enjoy the ancient and empty Coldfall Wood. We stood under one umbrella by a lonely bench and drank hot soup . Wet, wet, wet it was. We enjoyed seeing the brooks and the newly made Wetlands bit which looks as though a brook has burst its banks: The walkway over it is ace. We looked about Barrenger Road and checked out the construction site set up to build an eco-house. All the houses on Coldfall Estate N10 were council-owned pre Thatcher. Today the Estate is deadly quiet as it was way back in no private cars 1950. Some houses are pink and some yellow; some still retain the grey picket fences, and the red front door steps, the pride of the housewife. There are padlocked gates in alleyways and a padlocked turnstile into the Muswell Hill Playing Fields. It is that quiet that in Creighton Avenue at 1.30pm we could hear the joyful screeches of primary school pupils at Coldfall School along Everington Road and the crows were louder than east London ones. The grey squirrels had yellow tinges in their rat-fur.
Three Sisters Drinking Tea by Lovers’ Lawn in Ancient Coldfall Wood in January in the Pelting Rain.
Sliding mud, scraping mud
Chilled to the bone our toes.
One sister wore her boots
Clumpy dregs adorned with the dried mud
And yellow clay of her Chingford allotment
Sensible coverings for a lookabout in an ancient wood.
The cold bit our hands.
In the great green trunked trees, the high-up crows were affronted.
Intruders we were bold in their space. They flapped.
They jumped to different levels
They cawed and soared and the squirrels tame as you like
Busy in their foraging, started.
The creatures heard our breathing yet we hardly crackled the bracken.
The rain had sodden through, seeped through dead leaves and coppiced twigs.
All was mush.
The earth was sprung.
We were buoyant
Despite the drip and the gush and the splatter
Of the splish splosh
Deluge of wetness.
We gripped the wooden sides of a bridge
Over a stagnant green wetland
We searched for a bench or a customised log
Near the flat and memory of Lovers’ Lawn
Our hoods were sodden.
One sister placed down the thermos, another the rolls,
A bounding childish dog sniffed his muzzled jaw up to the food
Ahead of a dog-walker’s apologies
Said in the posh tones of the neighbouring estate.
She went. We laughed and said What are we like?
Three sisters under one dripping umbrella
supping soup, milking tea, renewing friendships
in our once local wood.
One said “I’m not nostalgic
I just feel I own it. It was our wood.
Glad we came”.
Outside past the bent wrought iron railings
The cars splashed through gutter pools
Mothers trundling buggies or on laden bicycles
With precious cargoes plastic wrapped
Waited at the kerbs on pink paving stones.
It was gone 3.30pm on a January afternoon.
More dog-walkers came.
We three sisters kissed goodbye
And went our separate ways.