Here come the thundering monkeys

Every night, when Mirinda’s ready to climb into bed, she stands at the bedroom door and yells out “PUPPIES!” to signal that it’s pre-sleep cuddle time. After a bit of coaxing from me, they suddenly get animated and make a run for it. They race up the stairs, knowing that the bedroom door is slowly closing and wanting to get to the bed first.

I have no idea why they need coaxing. It could be because they’ve both been chilling in front of the TV and are a bit sleep muddled. Or it could be because Emma feels that Freya needs telling off late at night. Or maybe it’s because they are simply exhausted from a day of eating bones and walking around Thursley.

Today marked my first visit to Thursley since the big fire. I’m glad to say that the green is returning. It starts with grass then the heather will reappear. Trees will start to shake off the blackened bark and sprout green shoots.

The gradual but rapid regrowth reminds me very much of Australia. The ability for nature to heal itself so fast is amazing.

Also amazing is how there are huge swathes which were unaffected by the fire.

The Thursley fire covered 150 hectares and left a vast landscape of black. In fact, it still smelled of old fire and ash today as we walked through. This is roughly a third of the common.

Apart from the incredible job done by the firefighters over three days, the common is criss crossed with lots of sandy trails which, I assume, acted as natural firebreaks. This has the eerie effect of having nothing but blackened earth one side of a path and lush greenery on the other.

Sadly, though, this fire followed a bigger conflagration during a heatwave back in July 2006 which destroyed around 60% of the heathland. By 2010 it had started to look regenerated enough to stand on its own for a bit. I guess we had ten years of bounty.

No-one has said how the fire started. The fire service and police say that investigations are ongoing. Unlike Australia, fires are not a naturally occurring event here in the UK. Woodland and heathland fires are caused accidentally or deliberately by humans.

I’d put my money on someone discarding one of those awful British disposable petrol driven barbecues before it was properly extinguished. But then, I hate them because of the black patches in our park caused by stupid people using them on the grass.

Anyway, apart from my personal opinion, our walk around Thursley wasn’t all burned ground and black skeletal trees. Away from the once boggy bit, the trees are not singed and the heather was starting to blossom. With your back to the devastation, you could almost believe it had never happened.

One of the few remaining sections of boardwalk

But back to the puppies nightly ritual.

As they raced, full speed up the stairs, I shouted out “Here come the thundering monkeys!” Mirinda responded with “That’s a great title!

So, there you have it.

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