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Sussex Wun't be Druv
Sweet Sussex and the Wyrde Woods
The creation of a fictional fantasy world is one fraught with a minefield of clichés. Added to this is the temptation to provide too many detailed descriptions to show off what has hopefully become a rich and colourful tapestry. I wanted my fantasy world, the Wyrde Woods, to be rooted in the real world and then try to fuse fact and fiction in such a manner that distinctions would become blurred; hopefully making the fantastic a somewhat realistic experience for the reader.
I didn’t have to look far for that rich and colourful tapestry. Neither do you. It’s just a matter of not only viewing nature from little screenshots or watch it swoosh by from a car window. Get away from behind the computer, get out of that car and step into a fantastical world filled with beauty and wonder. By all means, take your children there to instil in them an early appreciation of the bounty offered by the countryside.
The sense of serenity offered by a countryside walk is real, there’s been plenty of science in various fields backing up the beneficial effects but I won’t get into that, most of us have experienced it for ourselves at one point or another. If you think you haven’t, think back upon childhood, when the world was still filled with wonder, especially the natural world. I wanted to apply this to an urban character who discovers a soothing alternative not all that far from a bland existence in town.
Sussex offered just about everything I needed, specifically because it has such large areas of natural magic that I could conceal a world within a world in there – once again with blurred edges. The Wyrde Woods don’t exist, yet are very close to a number of real locations which are mentioned in the Wyrde Woods books. They are there, but not quite there and as a writer I tend to thrive in the confused muddle that arises from such a situation.
Sussex wun’t be druv
There was another factor which played in my mind and that is the need for the message to get out there that Britain’s natural bounty should not be taken for granted. In short: many of the regulations and projects designed to encourage the continued survival and rehabilitation of some of the most beautiful scenery a writer could imagine are being dismantled or threatened by wilful destruction. It is, unfortunately, all too conceivable that our grand-children will only be able to listen to the fabled song of a nightingale on You-Tube; this might be just a few decades away now. I have been struck by the Mayfield Market Towns development plans in an area very similar to the Wyrde Woods. Both location and plot are remarkably similar. I had thought that my own ‘development plans’ might have been too far-fetched or too blatantly draped in corruption…till I read about the Mayfield plans opposed by LAMBS – the degree of fishiness there outshines anything an author would dare to put to paper.
It is no wonder then that Twineham farmer Robert Worsley has refused to sell his land to Mayfield Market Towns, even though he was offered a staggering 275 million pounds for it. The ‘rural revolution’ which is taking place is an encouraging sign that the old ‘Sussex wun’t be druv’ motto is still honoured in the counties of East and West Sussex; Locals clearly indicating that they consider nature’s bounty to offer more wealth than millions of pounds in bank accounts.
For further information about LAMBS (Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl) see:
For further information about the 'rural revolution' see:
Also see my hub:
The Wyrde Woods as a setting
What are the Wyrde Woods like as a setting to populate and play around in? Well, I am having a great deal of fun and I hope readers will pick up on that in the books Escape from Neverland and Dance into the Wyrd, which make up the complete series Lord of the Wyrde Woods. I’ve had so much fun, in fact, that the next few writing projects will also use the Wyrde Woods setting.
Rather than go on and on – much as I am tempted for my admiration for Sussex continues to grow - I will let a few choice photographs demonstrate what a splendid setting Sussex offers. Not all pictures were taken in Sussex, some are from other areas of England but these were selected because they might as well have been taken in Sussex - or at the very least in my Wyrde Woods.
Enjoy your journey into the great setting of the English countryside...and consider perhaps, how fragile these treasures are.
The Wyrde Woods as inspired by Corin Spinks. Corin has become like a second pair of eyes, there is a mutual inspiration here which I value a great deal.
Steve Slater's pictures which have inspired my vision of the Wyrde Woods
Experience the Wyrde Woods at Dernwood Farm
If you want to experience this setting for yourself - perhaps without my flights of fancy - then I can wholeheartedly recommend a stay at Dernwood Farm near Heathfield in East Sussex. This family-run working farm offers camping in 70 acres of coppiced woodlands. There are options for ‘glamping’ in bell tents, a safari tent or the cabin, but also for wild camping in a meadow or the more secluded encampment area. I stayed in the encampment area recently, living in the middle of a wood, cooking on a campfire and returning the curious looks of squirrels, owls, foxes, deer and badgers was truly inspirational and an incredible way to experience Sweet Sussex. Moreover, it is as close to the Wyrde Woods as you can get.