Richard Oliff: My far-off days as a young Robin Hood

Richard has happy childhood memories of Thoroughsale Woods in Corby
Richard has happy childhood memories of Thoroughsale Woods in Corby

It would be easy to lose count of the number of times my mum would say these words to me in varying tones of exasperation as, yet again, I would be “under her feet”.

This was most definitely the case during the long periods of 1960s school holidays: but, where to go? Certainly not to my room, or to watch TV, and computers hadn’t been invented.

A child could get lost for hours climbing trees and being Robin Hood

The “outside” choices were endless.

One could saunter around the corner into Spinney Grove to meet other neighbourhood children.

One might take a walk down to the West Glebe Park which had a densely wooded area bookended on one side by cricket, football and rugby pitches, and on the other the council tip – the refuse dump for the whole Corby borough.

This however was not a place that met with my parents’ approval.

Bike rides were an option, though requiring some preparation and the guarantee of a friend for company.

The quickest and best bet for a decent time away from home was to be had in a stretch of wooded area accessed via Clydesdale Road.

By contrast a much different kind of woodland to the ‘Wessie’.

This was the sprawling Thoroughsale Woods, where a child could get lost for hours climbing trees and being Robin Hood with his Maid Marian, especially if a few others were prepared to be merrie men.

Throughout the woods there were gravel and sanded walkways that the council had provided by way of access from one part of town to the other, but these were largely ignored by anyone who’d been told, in no uncertain terms, to “go out and play”.

I’ve often wondered if mum or dad had ever worried, as so many parents understandably do today, about the possibility that such a wooded area might harbour those adult characters of a less savoury nature that may wish harm to Robin and his men.

I guess I’ll never know.