Sunday, 22 October 2017 17:15

Goodbye Christopher Robin

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I went to see 'Goodbye Christopher Robin' recently, successfully passing it off as 'research' for our wonderful Winnie the Pooh at Hundred Acre Wood tour in Ashdown Forest.

Most of the film is set and filmed there, and follows the events that lead to the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories, which became the world's best-known children's books. Poohsticks BridgeLocations include the actual Poohsticks Bridge where father and son invent the game and the outlook point where Christopher Robin (known by his nickname of Billy Moon in the film) and his dad, the author AA Milne sit and admire the view of the South Downs, while enjoying the echoes their voices make.

As it goes, Ashdown Forest was also a favourite hunting ground of Henry VIII's, so it is doubly important to us at Potted History Tours.

However, the film definitely made me think further than what it means to us as a tourism business. It invokes a real nostalgia for times gone by, when children used to play in the actual outdoors rather than in a simulated one dreamed up by a computer programmer. Christopher Robin Milne's own imagination created the world he played in, using his stuffed toy animals as inspiration. The stories were a huge hit with children and adults alike, and came along at a time when Britain (and the rest of the world) desperately needed cheering up after the brutality of the First World War. The books offered escapism, adventure, and balm for the soul of a nation damaged by war.

Winnie the PoohThe books are arguably as famous for their whimsical illustrations as for their words. E.H. Shepard, Milne's friend and collaborator on the Winnie the Pooh books, had also survived WWI, and his illustrations for the books are in sharp contrast to those he produced from the trenches. Have a look at this publication of his war drawings, recently discovered in the archives of the Shepard Trust.

The trauma of the war clearly stayed with both men for years after it ended. Both had witnessed death on a huge scale, and each had lost people close to them (Milne his best friend, and Shepard his brother). Unsurprising then, that the two men would perhaps find solace in the creation of a world that celebrated friendship, happiness and innocence.

Milne had always been a pacifist, and became more so after his experiences in the Somme. He regarded his best work to be his 1934 anti-war book, Peace with Honour, but he knew the public – and his publishers – preferred his nostalgic, unassuming tales from the Hundred Acre Wood.

You can experience the same peaceful surroundings that the Milne family enjoyed by taking our Winnie the Pooh at Hundred Acre Wood tour. Why not have a Teddy Bears' Picnic while you're there? Relax on a picnic blanket in the woods and peruse some of the books we've mentioned in this post. Can you think of a better nostalgia trip?

Read 1910 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 October 2017 19:15
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