Saturday, 16 October 2021

Beech tree turned into swap shop for lockdown walkers

Beech tree turned into swap shop for lockdown walkers

A TREE in Old Copse Wood in Sonning Common has been decorated with old compact discs and painted pebbles for walkers to admire and exchange.

The large beech can be found in the woodland near Bishopswood sports ground in Horsepond Road but no one seems to know who started the trend.

Ingrid Johnston-Leene, 40, and her children, Lucas and Lily, found the tree on one of their daily walks at the start of the latest lockdown and decided to add their own decorations. 

“We must have walked past the tree a couple of times before we noticed it was decorated,” said Mrs Johnston-Leene, a garden designer from Peppard Common.

“It has a few CDs hanging from the branches encouraging people to swap painted stones.

“The kids were very excited and wanted to take some home but I told them to wait until they could bring their own to exchange first.” 

Lucas, seven, and Lily, five, painted stones from their garden with hearts, polka dots and glitter to put under the tree and Mrs Johnston-Leene’s husband, Chris, painted a yellow minion from Despicable Me. “It was just to cheer people up,” said Mrs Johnston-Leene. “Painting has been a fun lockdown activity and as the tree is on the other side of the woods from where we live, it encourages the kids to walk further.

“We are still swapping stones now and our neighbours have got involved and have been going down there to take a look.” 

Mrs Johnston-Leene believes the tree decorating may have been started during the first lockdown last year.

She said: “The tree has been posted on social media so more people know about it now. The last time we visited, someone had added stones with these amazing faces showing different expressions — it’s great.”

Mrs Johnston-Leene has been helping to home-school her children while Peppard primary remains closed due to the pandemic. 

She said: “It’s going well and the school has been fantastic.

“The kids really miss school but staff have been doing live lessons so the children can see their teachers and friends, which is important for them.” 

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