Winnie the Pooh, has been a part of many glorious childhoods, beloved amongst children and adults worldwide over the years, his stories of adventure with his friends Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, and Christopher Robin rouse nostalgic memories of escapism and wonderment. Whilst we are all familiar with the wonderful world of Hundred Acre Wood, who amongst us are familiar with the man behind the story, AA Milne and what inspired him to create one of the most loved characters of all time?
On the 29th of September, we are in for a delightful journey when Goodbye Christopher Robin hits our cinema screens, The story of the middle class British writer and poet, Milne, played by Domnhall Gleeson, and his relationship with his son Christopher Robin, the very boy who inspired the world of Pooh and where Christopher Robin was born and how the success affected the family including Milne’s wife Daphne, played by Margot Robbie and Christopher’s adored nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald).
We were invited to explore the wonderful world of Hundred Acre Woods, or also known as Ashdown Forest in Sussex to see where the whole Pooh phenomenon begun accompanied by author Ann Thwaite, the biographer behind the story the film is based on, who also acted as a consultant on the film.
Although Milne and his family lived in the heart of Ashdown Forest, unfortunately, his house is out of bounds to the general public, so our first point of call was Galleon’s Point or otherwise known as Gill’s Lap, in which we experienced story time with Ann reading an extract from the 1st Winnie the Pooh book. Milne and the young Christopher Robin would spend days wandering the forest, where Milne would watch his son play inspiring ideas for his book. Galleon’s Point, exactly how it is described in the book is a circular nook of tall pine trees.
“They walked on, thinking of This and That, and by-and-by they came to an enchanted place on the very top of the Forest called Galleon’s Lap, which is sixty-something trees in a circle; and Christopher Robin knew that it was enchanted because nobody had ever been able to count whether it was sixty-three or sixty-four, not even when he tied a piece of string round each tree after he had counted it.”
Further down, amongst the beautiful idyllic views, AA Milne and the Winnie the Pooh Illustrator E. H. Shepherd have been commemorated. A memorial plaque lays in a large piece of stone in recognition for “capturing the magic of Ashdown Forest and bringing it to the world” This area features a couple of times in the film depicting happy yet harrowing memories as both men struggle to cope with the stress they experienced during the first world war.
Although the forest only houses the minimum of sign posts on what is an ideal place to bring young families and adults alike to enjoy the forests and the views for miles, there are ode’s to Pooh and his friends scattered through the forest on the trek down to Pooh Bridge. It appeared that Eeyore had now ventured into the property market with a number of Eeyore houses poking out of the trees. Mostly reconstructed by visitors to the woods, someone had even gone as far as to make a front door and attach it high up in a tree.
It’s safe to say, most visit the forest to get a chance to visit Pooh Bridge and play Pooh sticks, a game in which you drop a stick into the stream that runs under the bridge to see whose stick comes out first on the other side. The game is obviously featured within the book and also featured in the film in another Father/Son bonding scene with Milne and Christopher Robin.
Yes, we did play a game of Pooh sticks, but ours sunk to the bottom of the stream never to be seen again.
There is something quite magical about Ashdown Forest and its Winnie The Pooh trail and the fact that A.A. Milne himself, as well as Christopher Robin, had walked those very same footsteps. It’s a place that lets children be children and adults lose themselves to its enchanting, mystical nooks and stunning views.
Goodbye Christopher Robin hits cinemas on September 29th.