HOLLYWOOD high-fliers have gone into hiding at a woodland haven in rural Worcestershire that is one of the best-kept secrets in the Midlands.
But there’s a problem. After late night hi-jinks in the green room, they’ve left all manner of things behind, and the lost property office is fast filling up.
It’s the final straw for the likes of Russell Crow, Tom Crows, Gwyneth Palcrow, Selina Crowmez and Jude Caw. And, yes, you read that right.
Predictive text hasn’t mounted a coup – the A-listers are Hay-Listers. Scarecrows, to be precise.
Fourteen film and TV-themed scarecrows have been secreted amid the 134 acres of beautiful Bodenham Arboretum & Earth Centre five miles north of carpet capital Kidderminster.
The family-owned attraction, a leafy labour of love started by David and Jennifer Binnian in 1973 as a hobby, isn’t on the main tourist track but is well worth seeking out.
It boasts natural woodland, specimen trees and shrubs, pools, lakes and a working farm, to which have been added a forest school, lakeside terrace, grassed roof restaurant and visitor centre.
There are some 3,000 species of trees and shrubs through which pathways meander in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Locals describe it as “the hidden garden”.
And just now, there’s the Scarecrow Trail, which offers not only family fun but also leads you through the site, with surprises around every corner.
Each of the Hollywood stars has lost something and, armed with a trail map, your mission is to work out which item each character has mislaid.
There are bonus posers, too. Keep count of how many crows you see along the route. Which scarecrow hasn’t got an admission sticker? And who is wearing the wrong shoes?
After being ushered onto the trail by the first scarecrow, there are 13 to find, also including the likes of Sheryl Crow, John Caw, Edgar Allan Crow and Strawman Dan.
Along the way, watch out for a particularly beautiful eucalyptus tree, a hidden gazebo and views across the pools. Say hello to the donkeys, sheep and cows, too.
The donkeys play a prominent role in the Christmas Nativity Trail, by the way.
You may well find that you have the farm’s resident sheepdog tagging along, and if you purchased duck food from the kiosk, be prepared for teeming fish to compete for every pellet.
There are five recommended walks through the site, which has more gradients than most similar attractions, ranging from a gentle stroll round the lake to a two-mile plus boundary trek.
Despite living in Worcestershire for many years, this was my first visit to an attraction I’d never heard of before, but which I found when consulting Google.
Photographs in the guidebook show just how much the place changes with the seasons, and I’ll be back for autumn colour and perhaps a winter sprinkling of snow.
Good news is that each adult ticket purchased includes a free return in low season. Upgrade to an annual pass and you can visit Batsford Arboretum in the Cotswolds and The Living Rainforest attraction in Berkshire pretty much all year round too.
Main season adult admission at Bodenham is currently £6.50, with children (aged 3-16) paying £3.50. An £18 family ticket is a good deal, admitting two adults and as many as four children.
Prices vary by season. If you just want to pop in to the restaurant and visitor centre for a bite and a drink, leaving the arboretum itself for another time, there’s no cover charge.
All in all, it’s a lovely hideaway haven for peace and quiet despite the nearby hustle and bustle of everyday life in nearby Kidderminster, Worcester and big city Birmingham.
No wonder the Hollywood hay-listers love it…
The Scarecrow Trail runs until September 4. For more information, including accessibility, head to bodenhamarboretum.co.uk.