We all have aspects of our life which can be stressful, some people handle and use their stress well, others need to escape it. I am now in my second year at Harper Adams Uni and deep in the throes of exams, spending a lot of my time revising and what spare moments I have trying to live. Though I don’t feel I suffer from the stress I still have my time, which I use to escape, and there is only one place I go and see some unlikely friends... 
The woods at HAU are not particularly large, but they are peaceful and full of life! My favourite characters are the Roe Deer. I don’t see them often but, on a lucky day, when I have been sat in my hammock reading for a while or just listening to the sounds of the wood I tune in on the distinctive but subtle sound of a large mammal, moving through the undergrowth; a small rustle in the dry bracken, the clop of a cloven hoof on a stone, the gentle huff of a large breath. 
 
From my refuge partially up a tree, just at the level of the lowest branches I can clearly see that identifying roe deer “smile”, they look up at me, obviously aware of my human stench. That connection, even for just a moment, is magical. 
 
My other (not so secret) hide-away is the Newport canal, a short walk from my house and abounds with activity in and around the water. I do love to go and sit on a bench or one of the concrete fishing pads during my lunch and again of an evening. On the nice sunny days we have had recently I have seen a lot of wildlife, everything from the beautiful but not so friendly swans to prehistoric looking but slightly more friendly 4 Spotted Chaser Dragonfly. These encounters are beautiful, and make my day brighter but one evening on the canal, I was provided with a show I shall never forget. 
 
Most people shy away in disgust at the thought of rats, and though they have a bad reputation and are generally unwelcome in homes, gardens and cities, seeing them on the banks of the canal learning and playing is a welcome site in my eyes. As I sat just enjoying the last of the sun before I turned home for my tea, three young rats poked heads out from under the hedge and emerged onto the path a little way off. This time of night I can only imagine they are looking for food, but it would appear from their behaviour that they weren’t all that hungry, as one rat barrelled into the side of another causing it to jump and scurry a bit, the third running up the path a little and diving towards the hedge. They reminded me of three young men on the way back from the pub, joking and messing around together before their night of joviality comes to an end, it raised a small laugh from my heart which when uttered was enough to convince all three rats to disappear, I didn’t see them again but again though our encounter was only brief... simply magical. 
 
These times, be them the brief moment of eye contact with a deer, the holding of a newly emerged dragonfly or a vibrant fire in the sunset, don’t remove for me the cause of stresses or my worries but I do see the beauty of the world, the beauty I strive to protect and it renews in me the vigour and passion for what I do. Though I know it’s not always fun it will always be worth it, and I hope the beauty of nature can hold peace for all of you. 
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