Pudney Woods – Not as intended

I had planned to write a post this week all about our favourite place to visit as a family, Pudney woods. Unfortunately this is a late replacement for that post, which will hopefully follow soon.

Last night, whilst trying the impossible daily challenge of getting our son to sleep, Sarah spotted heavy smoke in the sky from the window of his room. We all looked for a while but couldn’t figure out the precise location nor whether it was likely just a small garden bonfire. In the end we decided it was probably just nothing and carried on trying to get our all night party boy to catch a little sleep.

This afternoon we took our normal daily trip to Pudney woods. We are fortunate to have this little nature area at the bottom of our road and it has now gone from being a rare expedition to a daily demand from Robbie that we have to visit.

We took our usual route into the woods, then a sharp left leading us into the well hidden park and play area just inside. Sadly this is when we realised where all that smoke last night had appeared from.

Burnt out trees hung above a pile of empty beer bottles all around the kids playground and just yards away from a flower memorial of a local resident who had sadly lost his life there. What an unbelievable place to get drunk and start a fire!

Luckily the playground itself was unaffected so we were still able to play on the slide before heading back into Pudney woods for a bit of exploring and a squirrel hunt.

My Son playing on the slide at Pudney woods in Clacton-On-Sea
Loving life on the slide!

The ‘running spot’ in Pudney woods

Aside from the slide, there is another spot on our walk that Robbie demands we stop for a while. This has become known to us as his ‘running spot.’ Simply put, it’s a wide opening between trees and pathway where he can run up and down the hills and generally burn off energy.

We know we are not the only ones who love this little spot as we regularly see other parents and kids here for a little run about and a play. It could have ended in disaster for us today though.

Just a few yards into the first lap, we had to pull Robbie up as the ground was again covered in broken glass from beer bottles which is not great with a boy who travels everywhere at full speed and falls over every few minutes! It took a little while for us to get most of the glass cleared up and back to running but we soon decided to give up as there was just so much glass in the area it wasn’t really safe.

Hide and seek at Pudney wood in Clacton
Hide and seek at the ‘running spot’

We have never had any problems in the woods before. They always seem to be brilliantly maintained looking both tidy and safe but obviously it is not possible to have somebody there 24/7. It really is up to the residents to keep this amazing natural area in a good condition for us all to enjoy.

I’m not exactly a community spirit campaigner nor was I an angel as a child myself. I certainly started a couple of fires and there is no way I could deny I had a few sneaky beers in places I shouldn’t so perhaps I am in no position to judge.

Maybe I am just transitioning into my role as a grumpy old man, instead of a grumpy young man, preparing myself to pass comment on the youth of today and use lines such as ‘during the coronavirus.’

Realistically though, I understand why kids get bored and drink. I even understand the buzz of starting a small fire. What I just can’t grasp is why you would choose to do so in a children’s play area or why you feel the need to smash the bottles in the middle of an area mainly used by kids and dog walkers.

It has been a tough year for everyone and maybe those that caused the mess and fires in Pudney woods had been unable to see friends for a long time. Perhaps this was their first chance to let off steam in a long time and they just got a little carried away.

I like to see the best in people and as such would assume that whoever chose these spots would actually feel terrible if a child was hurt through their actions. I don’t think there is any malice involved and it is just a lack of thought on their part.

Either way, it annoyed me enough to write this post (Or rant) and I’m sure other parents will feel the same. It is still our favourite spot and we can only hope that this doesn’t become a regular occurrence and we can return later in the week.

We are lucky enough to live in an area full of beaches, arcades, nature spots and a town centre. There really is plenty to do in Clacton once everything returns to normal. If you do need to cut loose in the meantime, it really should not be too much to ask to avoid kids play areas directly next door to a nursery. Let’s just show some common sense.

Anyway, rant over. Hope everyone is keeping well and hopefully see you all soon! Dad.

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