Our "Secret Forest" has reopened and I took a trip there today to see how well our den had survived the Winter ...basically, it hasn't!
It's now just a pile of branches and sticks. It doesn't look like it has been deliberately dismantled by anyone - it probably just collapsed during one of the many wind and rain storms of recent months. It's quite a shame after six years of building and repairing it, but I guess we won't be in Kunming too much longer, so it's not the disaster it might have been had it happened 2-3 years ago. Bye bye den!
JD, Jiajia and I spent yesterday afternoon at the Secret Forest with one of JD's schoolfriends and his Mum. We had a picnic first and then headed into the woods. I spent a few hours repairing the roof damage in our den, while JD and his friend had a go at building a new den nearby [see below]. It was a very hot and sunny day so, when we left at about 5pm, we were happy to stop at a nearby shop for an ice-cream. Fun day!
The Secret Forest reopened again yesterday and so, with some trepidation, we went to check out the den. It looked fine from the outside [above], but a check inside showed that the roof had basically collapsed [below]. So, while JD and Jiajia made mud bricks (for reasons I have yet to work out), I spent three hours rebuilding the roof. It's by no means fully repaired yet, but the main beams are back up again and I now have another job added to my holiday list of things to do!
The secret forest opened again last week, so JD and I visited to see if our den had survived the Winter closure. One section of the ceiling was drooping don and needed a new prop, but otherwise it was all good. And the copy-cat den next to ours (built by someone else - we know not who) has grown and now links up with our complex! How fun!
Despite JD's four regular weekend classes, we still try to find time to get out and about, and the Secret Forest is usually our number one destination while it's still open (it closes in the dry season). Our den continues to grow and develop and JD enjoys inviting different friends to come and get the guided tour. The friend above is "Johnny" who was a classmate of JD's at Kindergarten and recently moved into a flat a few doors down from us. There's always some surprising wildlife too.
JD and I have been gradually extending our den in the Secret Forest. We started it about four years ago with a little stick house, big enough for JD and a friend to sit in. Later we added gateways to either side.
Last year, alongside the regular repairs and small improvements, we started to construct a fence around the area in front of the den's door. Then, this Summer I've begun to put up a roof to cover the fenced enclosure while JD has started to make a little garden in one corner.
The forest is only open in the Summer once the rainy season starts, because of the perceived fire risk. So we have to get cracking once we're let in!
The "Secret Forest" opened again last week now that the wet season has begun again here. JD and I apprehensively searched out our den to see if had survived the last six months. And survive it had! We've visited twice more since and added a rather pretty arch feature to the side of the main structure.
We call it the "Secret Forest" as it seems that only a handful of people know about it and we seldom meet more than 2-3 other people on a typical afternoon visit. In a noisy and crowded city like Kunming, it really is an oasis of peace, solitude and natural beauty.
With our favourite forest retreat closed over the Winter and Spring (for fear of forest fires ...too many "f"s there!!), JD has had to be content with making indoor dens under the dining table!
But yesterday, JD and I decide to see if our "secret forest" had reopened and, if so, check on the state of our den there. To our delight the barrier was up and the den proved to be in great condition. JD even managed to scale the den walls to add extra bark to the roof.
JD and I headed back to our secret forest this morning and were delighted to find our Den in remarkably good shape. I reinforced it and added a side compartment while JD dug a hefalump trap outside with his newly bought digging tool. Then afterwards we headed into town for fish 'n chips - a late birthday treat to myself.
GoKunming.com is the main website used by expats in Kunming. They recently ran an article about a new discovery - a temple hidden away in a secluded forest. That's OUR forest! JD and my SECRET forest!! I do hope we don't get an influx of strangers wandering around. We went there today to build a den [see photo] and saw no one else at all, so that bodes well for now.
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