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Friday 8th March

‘Look,’ I said to Hayley bending down and scratching in the earth. ‘It’s an acorn!’

‘Oh yes!’ she said, grinning.

Today we passed through deciduous woodland for the first time. The oak trees here are nothing like our British oaks, the leaves are pointy rather than made up of round lobes. But an acorn is still an acorn, wherever you are.

A few steps further on and a floral, light, sweet smell permeated the air. Going uphill and breathing hard, we were deeply inhaling the scent of what we think was wild jasmine.

‘I wish I could bottle it or record the smell, like we take a photo of a view, why can’t we capture a smell,’ I said to Jim.

The few minutes we spent in the woods were magical. We stopped briefly to look at a possible archaeological site and there were tiny wild strawberries starting to peek through the undergrowth. Next, as we rounded a corner Hayley and I both spotted the first pink rhododendron flowers, but on different sides of the path.

The whole forest had new and familiar elements all mixed together in a beautiful, but slightly surreal mossy wonderland. There were oak trees, but not as we would recognise them; tall rhododendron trees, not just bushes; and even the jasmine was lovely but somehow at odds with the idea of an oak forest.

Despite all the new sights and smells, the crispy brown autumn leaves, all still scattering the forrest floor at the start of spring, crunched when you walked on them, just like home.

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