The 100 Aker Wood is well known as the home of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. It’s a place of magic and wonder and is certainly not to be missed out on. But have you ever wondered what lies beyond the 100-aker woods? Where does Christopher Robin go and the end of his wonderful adventures with Winnie-the-Pooh? Well wonder no more because I, your entripid curate, have gone adventuring to discover what does indeed lie beyond it and have discovered wonderful palces full of faith and beer. The names of the palces may sound fanciful to you, dear reader, but I assure you that it is true. They are known and Barcombe and Newick.
Before I visited the village of Barcombe, I had to pass through Piltdown. It has a beautiful pond but a strange bloke tried to sell me a skull with an Oragutan’s teeth, so I kept going. In the village of Barcombe I met a wonderful Vicar called James, who had a stange passion for church history and cup-a-soups. He showed me a little of what running a rural church looked like. From what I could tell on my visit it involved copious amounts of tea, bucket-loads of schools work and your body-weight in pancakes. Well, I mean there are worse things one has to endure for the gospel. Barcombe is a wonderful community with some fascinating characters. They even bought their own post office to stop it closing down. How’s that for community spirit!
After a few weeks I said my good-byes and moved on to Newick, the larger of the two villages with a whopping 2.5k people.Of course this was a village that had it’s priorties right, consisting of three pubs within eye-sight of each other, and all heaving. Even the church was growing, having almost doubled in regular attenders in the last 2 years! Now, there are many reasons why this is so, most importantly the work of the Holy Spirit, but I think it also has a lot to do with its new(ish) vicar, Paul, who has the most amazing gift of hospitality. If Winnie-the-pooh ever visited he would be greeted with at least a gallon of honey. On one visit which where he warned me that ‘he didn’t have much in, so lunch might not be up to much’ I was given wild boar sausage sandwiches, boiled eggs from the village farm and a side salad. Not sure what it would have been if he did have stuff in!
A highlight of the land beyond the 100-aker woods was a visit with Chris to the metropolis of Hailsham to visit a livestock market, and to chat to a farmer or two. I did not see any heffalumps but there were planty of cows and sheep. There were also a few pigs, one of which tried to eat my wellies and anther was trying for the piglympics gold in highjump, having jumped the gates half a dozen times.
Alas, my time in the land beyond the woods came to the end and I had to return, to St. Johns, but I leave knowing that God does indeed lie beyond the woods, and he has a plan and a love for those in rural areas, even if I didn’t see a pot of honey whilst I as there.
Haven’t been to visit Winnie-the-Pooh yet? Make sure to visit the 100 Aker woods