John Upton

 
I was one of the organisers of Walk and Talk between the years 2008-2010. I wrote a chapter in Psychology in the Real World: Community-based groupwork on 'The Difficulties of Being in Groups'. I have personal experience of receiving mental health services and am appalled by the dependency of Mental Health Services on prescription drugs rather than therapy. I find being in the countryside helpful and have recently joined the Wyldwoods project, about which I wrote the following:
 
A PLACE OF TRANQUILLITY
 
On Tuesdays and Thursdays I attend Wyldwoods, near Broseley, near Ironbridge, which is advertised as a  place for Creative Arts and Crafts for Well-being, which doesn’t tell half the story. But more of that later.
 
The experience for me begins with the delightful drive from Shrewsbury along the old A5 through Atcham before turning right towards Ironbridge. The road passes Wroxeter Roman Fort. As the road opens out there are stunning views ahead with hills in the distance. Passing the “Watch Oak” house on the right is perhaps my favourite setting - a house to the left with the gate sometimes open allowing the sheep to roam in the largely grass covered garden. Immediately to the right are 3 or 4 old cottages, perpendicular to the road. I always think what a shame it is that vehicles are parked in front of them, but then again where else would they park?
 
The road passes through the quaint setting of Leighton and onwards past the lovely little church at Buildwas, with the imposing Power Station beyond. Eventually the impressive Iron Bridge itself comes into view. Built in 1779 by Abraham Darby the third, formerly a main traffic route across the river Severn, it is now for pedestrian access only. Across one of the newer bridges, a climb uphill through the outskirts of Broseley and I’m soon approaching Wyldwoods via a rough old track that is a test for any vehicle.   
 
A short drive through some trees and then a farmhouse comes into view. This is the home of Steph Brett and her family. Steph is the founder and co-ordinator of Wyldwoods. Turning around there’s an old barn which has been converted into a kitchen and display area. This is also used for some of the activities. The other week we made a delicious vegetable curry. In the centre is a wood burner. These winter months, we’re not exactly  huddled around the fire but it’s close. A smaller resource room also has a wood burner and seating area. The remainder of the barn houses a woodwork shop and an office for Steph.
 
There’s a marquee/tent construction called a Yurt, with another wood burner at its centre. Inside has been made very cosy with sofas. Sometimes tea lights are put into lanterns to add to the atmosphere. Such an occasion was just before Xmas when a wintry tale was told to those gathered within. Adjacent to the Yurt is a large pond, home to several ducks. A platform has been constructed out towards the centre of the pond. This has been used for painting workshops. A house has been built for the ducks by the resident woodworker. A goose and the ducks are often seen waddling along their merry way and there are chickens seemingly on an endless scrounge for any food that they can forage. Further up on the site is an A shaped frame that houses the facilities and tools for greenwood working. From here there’s a lovely view across the adjacent field. Mallets, ornamental mushrooms and wands have been made here. Scattered around are bench seats and chairs that have been made of willow.
 
During better weather, I have sat on such seating outside the barn drinking a cuppa or eating my lunch, looking across and taking in all before me, truly a place of tranquillity. There’s no sound of traffic, just the sounds of nature. Unfortunately, time flies by far too quickly, then it’s time to return home. As compensation, the lovely journey follows. On leaving Ironbridge, the loop of the river Severn is nearby to the left. It doesn’t matter when the journey’s made there’s always something to see, including colours of the different seasons to cherish. On arriving home, the thought springs to mind as to what the next Tuesday or Thursday will have to offer.