A new use for forests surfaced recently - you might have seen it on Autumnwatch. 'Forest bathing' is all about taking time to relax in woodland and it comes to these shores from super-busy, super-crowded Japan, where apparently it's officially recognised as a way for stressed workers to unwind. Its proponents say trees have unrivalled de-stressing powers and spending time among them, absorbing the gentle sounds of nature, is fantastic for health.
I wholeheartedly agree with that part. Woods and forests are beautiful, tranquil places made fascinating by the ever-changing light and the myriad creatures that inhabit them. And trees - they're alive, they have extraordinary powers of survival and communication through the ecosystems they support, they are indeed wonderful.
In Sussex you can enjoy beautiful woodland and forests in many ways. Walking, cycling, riding or just enjoying woodland views from high points on the South Downs - and not far away, in the Surrey Hills, you'll find beautiful Winkworth Arboretum, well worth a visit.
And here's the rub. Forest-bathing is a commercial idea. I can see it working for owners of private woodland or nature reserves seeking ways to support conservation, but I can also see it becoming yet another contender for space as managers of public forest and woodland try desperately to balance conservation and commercial forestry with the needs of leisure users.
You can find quiet space in any forest or even a small copse - just slow down, stop, look, listen, breathe. This is one of the many good reasons for a relaxing holiday in Sussex
. Lately I've been watching deer and horses grazing in fields on the edge of my local forest, while foxes survey their territory from under the hedges, buzzards hunt above and stags roar, unseen, in the cover of the woods. It's magical, it's free, and I don't need to arrange it, I just get out there and open my eyes and ears. Try it!