Winnie the Pooh as you’ve never imagined him – reincarnated as a human being, as Bertie; still writing poetry, still fond of honey.
Piglet has become Peggy, Bertie’s timid neighbour who sees danger round every corner. Initially intimidated by a newcomer to the village, a flamboyant actor known as Bouncer, might she eventually find in him someone to whom she can confide?
Bouncer lodges with Sheila, a single Mum from Australia with an obsessive devotion to her small son, Joey, and with a tendency to call a wallaby a bloody wallaby.
None of them, however, are remotely aware of their ‘past lives’, not even the learned Professor who lives alone at The Cedars and chairs the local History Society.
All of them live in the village of Hartfield – the former home of A.A.Milne – on the edge of the Ashdown Forest. So, too, does Bunny – no longer a rabbit, but the formidable and optimistic organiser of an Action Group to fight a proposed bypass across their beloved forest. Only the retired Major, a gloomy recluse who lives alone in a rundown cottage on the edge of the village, thinks that their protests are doomed to failure.
As the saga unfolds, these members of Bunny’s Action Group begin to learn a lot more, not only about conservation, politics and ecology, but also about one another. And each of them, in their own way, also begin to make a connection to Bertie’s interest in what he calls ‘a bigger picture’.
Meanwhile could a very small inhabitant of the forest itself become a surprising ally?
Underpinning the ‘not in our backyard’ story is the question of ‘progress’ versus the need for a human scale and a gentler pace to life, whilst protecting a unique, beloved, ancient woodland. The book touches lightly on the themes of life, death, nature, the human spirit and meaning.
As a BAFTA winning film maker, Jonathan Stedall writes from a deep awareness of our interconnectedness with nature and the world.
Jonathan Stedall has made documentary films for over fifty years, largely at the BBC. There he worked with John Betjeman, Laurens van der Post , Cecil Collins, Malcolm Muggeridge, Alan Bennett, Ron Eyre, Bernard Lovell, Theodore Roszak, E.F. Schumacher, Mark Tully and Ben Okri. He has also directed major biographies on Tolstoy, Gandhi, C.G. Jung and Rudolf Steiner.
His film about a Camphill school in Scotland for children with special needs won a British Film Academy Award in 1968, and later work was nominated by BAFTA and the Broadcasting Press Guild.
His book Where on Earth is Heaven?, published by Hawthorn Press in 2009, was singled out by John Cleese as ‘the most annoying book I have ever read, as the author seems to have had a more interesting life than I’ve had.’
His collection of poems, No Shore Too Far, published after the death of his wife in 2014, was described by Stephen Gawtry, Editor of, Watkins Mind Body Spirit, as ‘beautiful, poignant and inspiring’.
Enchanting is the word. I love your characters and the delicate and comic way you’ve played into the Milne stories, and the beautiful ponderings on life. It’s a triumph and I’m sure it will fly – ISABELLA TREE, author of Wilding – the return of nature to a British farm.
Jonathan Stedall has directed some of our most enjoyable documentaries, and now has turned his hand to something as lively, original and thoughtful. – CRAIG BROWN, critic and satirist.
Jonathan’s gentle and subtle voice weaves a fable through the vehicle of A.A. Milne’s characters, transposed into the prosaic quandaries of contemporary life. With a simplicity and clarity of style, it can be read as an allegory on the bonds of friendship, morality and decency, and the vicissitudes of standing up to forces that ignore justice and humanity – SAIED DAI, artist.
Jonathan Stedall’s homage to his childhood hero Winnie the Pooh is a honeypot of wisdom and gentle humour – JEREMY NAYDLER, philosopher, cultural historian and gardener.
This lively short story, based on A.A. Milne’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ characters, stayed with me long after reading it. The book is easily accessible and amusing. It also contains deeper philosophical considerations. These relate to community life, ecological issues and gentle reflections about the meaning of life and death. The story also shows how very different people can unite together in a common cause, and the unexpected beneficial changes that can help reshape their lives.
I would value seeing this wise little book in print, and can imagine sharing it with friends and family, and encouraging some thought-provoking discussions! DIANA RUSSELL-CAREY, psychotherapist.
Jonathan Stedall revisits A.A. Milne’s Ashdown Forest, now under threat, as seen through the eyes of a familiar cast of characters, with all their strengths and foibles. Their attempts to save the forest, and in doing so reinforce their own bonds, results in a nostalgic and tender tale – CHARLOTTE SORAPURE, artist.
Jonathan’s book opens as a gentle eulogy to A.A. Milne. But as we are drawn into his village and its inhabitants, we find ourselves in a place of enchantment, yet also in a contemporary world. The modern threat of a bypass is the backdrop for finely observed actions, with players full of doubt, foibles, assertiveness and diffidence. As we come to know this place and its people, we realise that at issue here is far more than a plan for a road.
These are characters tussling with the ultimate questions of life: Why are we here? What is our role as human beings? Jonathan weaves a subtle, consistent and often humorous dialogue between the here and now and somewhere deeply beyond – PIP HEYWOOD, film-maker.
An enchanting fable which led me to ask myself what is actually real – SIR MARK TULLY, broadcaster and author.
A wise book to savour and ponder by the fireside with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and one that is bound to make you chuckle in recognition. – PARADIGM EXPLORER
An enchanting and amusing tale – THE BUZZ