On a rather soggy recent jaunt to the New Forest, I discovered that my wellies leaked rather badly.
This was despite them being top-of-the-range designer ones that I’d only worn a few times.
Since I got home I’ve tried hard to support my own patch by buying locally-grown produce and being a little more conscientious when I’m out shopping
Yes, I will be complaining.
With wet feet, I was definitely in need of some shelter, warmth and sustinence.
It turned out I was rather fortunate to come across a quirky sign saying Fallen Tree.
On further investigation, I discovered it was not actually a warning informing me of a tree down but a restaurant – and a very good one at that.
I forgot all about my soggy toes as I tucked into an expertly-cooked Coq Au Vin followed by blueberry and apple crumble with cream.
Oh well, the diet starts in January...
Later, with a full and contented belly, I got chatting to the owner Christina, who was very passionate about the environment and keeping everything eco-friendly.
In fact the table I sat at was made from a rare black poplar tree, hence the name of the restaurant.
It had been growing in the grounds of a local school, but the roots had started to rot and the ancient tree was becoming dangerous.
So talented wood sculptor Rob Dyer, who lives in the forest, cut it down and then decided to turn the wood into some beautiful tables.
Apparently if you line all the tables up in the right way, you can actually recreate the tree.
It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.
The crockery at this restaurant is made in the heart of the English countryside and everything on the menu is locally-sourced, from the meat to the eggs.
I’m told that even the honey comes from forest bees.
I was somewhat inspired by Christina’s passion for her area and since I got home I’ve tried hard to support my own patch by buying locally-grown produce and being a little more conscientious when I’m out shopping.
I’m hoping to return to the New Forest in the springtime when the weather is kinder – and there won’t be the need to wear wellies!