Farewell Forest: 9 things Annabel learned from being alone in the woods for three weeks

This deer wandered up one morning and watched me eat breakfast through the window

Eventually, inevitably, tragically, I had to leave the forest of isolation. I miss the animals horribly. Here are 9 things that I learned from all that alone time.


I learned that I appear to be in the small minority of humans who don’t need to be around other humans. I didn’t get lonely once and I was alone all the time for three weeks. This surprised me. At the same time it makes sense because I always leave parties early without saying goodbye, and have no friends leftover from school except for Charlotte Gillies.


My only companions, some wild, some domesticated



I learned that solitary people do talk to themselves, like in the movies. I wittered away to myself all the time.

Not in a profound way. Just things like, “oh for fucking fuck’s sake. Are you fucking serious??” (to the fence, when it jabbed me) or “ew, ew, ew, gross” (to the sink, because I hate washing up) and sometimes, “well that’s nice, the sun came out.”

Photo on 21-03-2016 at 1.36 pm #3
Chatting to yourself is less weird when there’s a dog in the same room


I learned that one mustn’t be too keen with exercise. Whilst a valiant effort, I should not have gone from no exercise ever to lots of exercise twice a day.

I sprained both my knee (moderately) and my ankle (badly) and now I have to stop exercising altogether for a while to let them heal. So by the time that happens, I’ll be unfit again.

You could say, therefore, that all that tough unpleasant running up and down the forest was pointless.

Normal ankle to the left, sprained ankle to the right


I learned that evenings are more boring without wine, especially when alone. After the sun goes down (Kate’s house is very bright during the day and very dark at night) there is nothing to do really except go to sleep.

But three weeks of no booze was good for me in other ways. My eyeballs got whiter, for example, and it made me feel smug, which is an emotion I rarely feel.

Advantages to both


I learned that making a decent fire from scratch every morning with twigs and WITHOUT accelerant is tricky at first, and then really, really gratifying.

I can see why pyromania is a thing.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.30.39 am


I learned that just as my dear Auntie Mo assured me, being alone in the woods at night in the arse-end of nowhere with no car in a country where people have guns is only terrifying for precisely three nights. Then it’s fine.

On the second-to-last night, my worst fear was realised when a sketchy van came spluttering up the very long drive after I’d gone to bed at 10pm (loser), past all the ‘NO TRESPASSING’ signs, and stopped outside.

A man remained in the car while a strung-out woman who obviously really likes drugs knocked on the front door and asked for directions in a lying sort of way, while peering into the house over my shoulder.

Then she asked if they could come in and use my wifi. I gave her a ‘you must be fucking joking’ glare, and luckily Mouse (a gorgeous psycho of a guard dog) was shoving her enormous head through the crack in the door and bellowing at the top of her lungs, spraying aggressive froth in all directions.

So I just said, “I think you should go now, this dog is highly aggressive,” so she did. I wasn’t even very scared. I just went back to bed like a bad-arse and fell back to sleep.

She looks harmless here, but Mouse makes a very good guard dog


I learned that voles are seriously hardcore, and also that you should never give up too soon (expect with exercise).

Lily caught another vole and this time I was sure I’d have to retrieve it and mercy kill it. I’d spotted her (Lily) prancing around outside with the poor thing dangling limp from her jaws, and when I extracted him, the vole plopped onto the ground contorted and convulsing.

I was sure he had broken his back and was dying a slow death, so I very gently picked him up and tip-toed into the house with the twitching creature cupped in my hands. I did three panicked circles of the kitchen before finding a box to lay him in.

Then I filled the box with tissue and shavings (for comfort), dropped in a few leaves (not sure why) and sat next to the box to have a brainstorm. Suddenly, like magic, the vole’s chest stopped heaving up and down, he twisted his head back into the right direction and started scampering around. My conclusion is that he had suffered a panic attack, rather than broken his neck.

I gave him about an hour to chill out, at which point he was back to being a 100% functioning vole, and then I trekked across the forest and released him far away, keeping Lily in jail (the house) for a bit until she forgot about him.

The resurrected vole
The sanctuary of the resurrection 


I learned that house spiders can’t escape from bowls or sinks.

One morning, I found one in a bowl on the kitchen counter. In accordance with my Spider Avoidance System, I avoided the kitchen counter for a customary total of 24 hours and then cautiously returned to find the spider had not fled as hoped, but was dead in the bowl.

This made me feel sad, because it is my view that no creature should have to die just because another one is irrationally afraid of it. Most people would have just tipped it out of the bowl and let it scamper off.

The next day, I found spider number two in the bathroom sink. So this time, from quite a distance, I chucked a tea towel over the side of the sink for the spider to use as a sort of ladder, which it did at some point during my subsequent 24-hour avoidance period.

Dead spider, victim of slippery bowl
Alive spider, who later escaped slippery sink by way of makeshift ladder


I learned that I simply must find a way to get rich.

It will have to be through writing because that is definitely my only Life Skill. Perhaps I shall pen a really good book which would be just perfect for turning into a movie? Or script a really good TV show?

I think that’s the only way you can get rich writing. You certainly can’t if you write for a newspaper (done) or magazine (done) or are freelance (doing).

The reason it is imperative I get rich is that I must have the means to one day buy a big fat property in the country like Kate’s (doesn’t matter where) in which to house my privately educated children (need a husband for the children bit) and a shit ton of rescue animals (no husband required).

A house to aspire to

Next stop? New York

2 thoughts on “Farewell Forest: 9 things Annabel learned from being alone in the woods for three weeks

  1. I like your story – it made my morning – admiring of your skills, your confidence, your uncertainties and the pleasure you take in being alone. That peace I need to learn. By the way, were I younger, I’d be competing to be the father of those children you talk about 😏 May everything go well with you.

    Warm regards Chris

    Chris Winter +61 411 749 224



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