I enter what is left of the park of a large manor house. Where the house once stood, a four-lane-road now runs.
The gates have gone. Most of the ground and woods are covered by that four-lane-road, as well as tower blocks. Of its stables and coach house, only one overgrown wall remains. The home farm, which supplied the house with fresh products, is now an unsuccessful restaurant. Of its park, only a small bit with a very large lake remains. The house was called “Wood and Lake”.
I walk towards the large lake, which is still full of waterfowl. They thrive on a diet of stale bread. It is supplied by children, parents, grandparents, singles, and couples of all ages.
Past the lake, I follow a path which leads to a place where similar paths branch out in all directions like rays of a star. Once, this so-called star-design used to be the height of fashion in landscape design. In this region, many parks with or without manor house still have such a “star wood”.
It is a dark spot. Broad holly trees reach well over two meter high. Old beeches line each path on both sides. The paths come together in a circle surrounded by more holly trees. In the middle is a small but deep pond. Rumour has it, three local covens use this wood.
Walking towards this circle, I see two people coming towards me.
One is hopping and skipping, or darts in and out of the undergrowth.
The other one walks steadily towards me.
They are a white-haired gran and her grandchild, on their way to feed ducks.
The girl carries a full bag.
We are like three stages in woman’s life treading the same path.
The girl discovers an old tree with a hollow trunk.
She peers inside.
Gran draws up and stops: “Yes, that’s where the fairies live. If you speak in the hollow, they may hear you. Don’t forget to give them a crumb or two”.
The little girl bends over: “Hello fairies! Sorry I woke you up. I’m going to feed the ducks, but first you.”
She throws a hand of crumbs into the hollow tree and skips happily away.
Gran winks as we pass each other: “Just like her mum. Used to chat to fairies too.”
It’s endearing to see some things never change.
I was once told fairies lived in hollow trees.
But I don’t remember ever having talked to them, nor having pelted them with stale bread.