Childhood wasn’t far. We took a bus.

In 1925, A.A. Milne bought Cotchfield Farm outside of the town of Hartfield in East Sussex. Although the farm is now privately owned, there is a public path and we are in need of an “Expotition”.

We arrived in Hartfield by bus from the town of Tunbridge Wells. Hartfield is a tiny village, listed in the Doomsday book of 1086. It is basically one street, with tiny converted cottages and two inns. We stopped at the Anchor Inn (built in the 15thcentury) for a pub lunch (Fisherman’s pie, locally made).

Pope's Cottage

Across from the Anchor Inn was “Pope’s Cottage”, originally built in the 13thcentury. At the end of the main street was a little sweets shop that was frequented by a young Christopher Robin.

Sweets Shop

Our pilgrimage begins at the sweets shop, where we are able to pick up a map to Pooh Bridge. Maps are available in English and in Japanese, as are instructions for how to play “Pooh Sticks”.

Tim stepping over the Stile

Our walk to the bridge takes us 2 miles out of the village, over wooden stiles, through sheep fields, along a public pathway bedecked with raspberry canes. The day is perfect, with billowy clouds against a bright blue sky and just a hint of breeze.

It takes us a leisurely 40 minutes, and as we come toward the bridge we see a beautiful tiny wooden door set in a tree.

A small door in the base of the tree

An inscription has long since worn off, but we can still see, at the top of the door, the engraving: “Mr. Sanders”. (“Winnie-the Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders”)

Mr. Sanders

Beyond is the bridge.

Pooh Bridge

It was restored in 1979, and is solid wood, strong enough for the horse traffic that comes along this path. The sunlight dapples the river, showing a proliferation of small sticks on the downstream side.

Amanda plays Pooh Sticks

We add our small offerings into the pile, racing from one side of the bridge to the other to see them come through.

Back in Hartfield we have tea in the Rose Garden of the sweets shop (called “Pooh Corner” now). A perfect day. Some go to Lourdes. Others go to Pooh Bridge.

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” Winnie-the-Pooh

Author: Amanda West Lewis

AMANDA WEST LEWIS has built a life filled with words on the page and on the stage, combining careers as a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her book THESE ARE NOT THE WORDS was published in April 2022 by Groundwood Books. Previous books include The Pact, (Red Deer Press) which was listed on the 2017 USBBY Outstanding International Books List; selected for the 2017 ILA Young Adults' Readers Choice List; Nominated for 2017 Snow Willow Award; and listed in the Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens, Spring 2017. SEPTEMBER 17: A NOVEL was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, the Red Cedar Award, and the Violet Downie IODE Award. Amanda has an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her theatre career, Amanda is the founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre, where she teaches and directs children. She has developed specialized drama and literacy programs for youth at risk, and for children with autism spectrum disorder. She has a Certificate in Theatre for Young Audiences with Complex Difficulties from Rose Bruford College, England. In 2015, Amanda co-produced the hit play “Up to Low” is based on the book by Brian Doyle. As a professional calligrapher and book artist, Amanda is passionate about the history of writing and has taught calligraphy courses to students of all ages. She studied with Hermann Zapf, Mark Van Stone and Nancy Culmone among many others. Amanda lives with her husband, writer Tim Wynne-Jones, in the woods in Eastern Ontario. They have three wonderful grown children. Find out more on her website at Photo Credit: Marianne Duval

2 thoughts on “Childhood wasn’t far. We took a bus.”

  1. Pooh sticks is a good game. I first played it with a company of actors in preparation for our tour of Winnie the Pooh, which toured Ottawa schools around 1979. We played it at a bridge near Carleton U, a place where lots of research is done, I guess. I played Tigger.

  2. I can just see you as Tigger, Kathy! What fun! We played Pooh Sticks with our kids, over ever bridge we were ever on. Haven’t done it on the Millennium Bridge — I suspect that would be illegal!

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