A couple of weeks ago we were booked in for lunch at Brasserie Blanc and anticipating a good lunch we prepared with a walk around Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. It's somewhere I'd heard of but not been before and it was a great prelude to a large lunch. We ate well at Brasserie Blanc - another first visit - and having a walk beforehand was a good move as we really weren't up for much afterwards.
It's a space that covers 540 acres and is around 25 miles for London. It was bought by the City of London Corporation in 1880 to protect it as a public open space and wildlife reserve. Can you just imagine what it would have become if that hadn't have happened?
It's thought there has been woodland here since the last ice age, but the landscape today was created by people and there's evidence that the area was inhabited as early as the Iron Age. Today there's a mix of ancient woodland, wood pasture, coppice, ponds and streams, grassland, mire and heathland.
As well as gnarly looking trees to admire, I also remembered to look up. Beautiful.
It's popular too, with 585,000 visits a year; people come to walk, cycle, picnic, enjoy nature or just walk the dog - and if you were local why wouldn't you do this on a regular basis.
The heather was just about still out for our visit and it was a welcome sight amongst the greens and browns of the trees. Although they were trying their best to vie for our attention. I mean, just look.
It wasn't long before we looped down to the pond, how calm and yet energising does it look?
Then we headed back towards the car and onto the delights that Raymond Blanc's team had to offer us. A walk around the Beeches set us up for a great start to our day.