Alignment and purpose

For most of this year at work, the powers that be have been drumming the importance of purpose, values and objectives into us on a weekly basis. Of course, this is mostly a smoke screen, as the Clash put it, to make a load of money and worry about it later. Despite it being very business-driven, I can relate to it and see how I apply something similar in my life.

This thought process began recently when I was thinking through a solo walk that I completed (post to follow, but I walked the 103-mile Cotswold Way). I was wondering about why I had decided to do it, and realised that it was inextricably linked to an objective from four years ago, and generally most of what I do is in alignment with this goal. It gives a tremendous sense of purpose and helps categorise what each specific exercise was for and where it fits in in the grand picture – in short, nothing is for nothing.

Whilst walking, I understood why I was doing it and where it fitted in. It’s refreshing, because as my end objective is to complete the Cotswold Way 100 ultra marathon, you could easily assume that in order to achieve it, I should be focusing solely on running, but not so. Completing the whole route walking, for example, is a huge mental victory, knowing I’ve covered every inch before, reducing the size of the monster in my mind. I employed this same tactic when passing the Fan Dance in 2019. I made trips down to the Brecon Beacons in the months prior just to walk and camp, familiarising myself with the environment instead of associating it with the struggles of the previous two attempts. It turned a previously intimidating environment into somewhere that I knew as intimately as my local hills.

There I was in 2017, looking for a challenge, and I found the Cotswold Way 100. “Great”, I thought, “I’ll get training for that. How hard can it be if I just train loads?” From reading the entry requirements, previous evidence of completed ultra marathons was needed, which I hadn’t got, so I entered two events in 2018. Straight away, my 2017 training and mantra aligned with this goal, which was aligning with the end goal. Most of my training had purpose.

Long term readers will know that I attempted the 2019 edition of the CW100 and failed, which is why I’m still striving to reach that goal. In the years following that, I have added more and more aspects to my training from physical and mental prep, to nutrition and purposeful training sessions which have, to be quite honest, refreshing and enjoyable. Every new habit, or daily exercise feels like all the small grains of sand pouring in-between stones in a bucket until it is completely full.

Why half-invest yourself in multiple goals and risk achieving none, when you can go all out to achieve a massive one? Have a think: quantity vs quality. Most of all, be patient and always believe in yourself. Oh, and don’t worry what everyone else is doing – we’re all as clueless as eachother.

Easily pleased

It’s a phrase I hear a lot, that I think is meant as a put-down. To say someone is easily pleased is basically suggesting they are small-minded or uncultured, akin to the phrase “small things please small minds.”

I would imagine there was a time in my past, probably when I cared too much what other people did or thought of me, when I too would have felt put down by being called easily pleased. Nowadays, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I look at myself sometimes and look at people around me and a quote from the sitcom Bottom springs to mind where Richie says to Eddie, “You’re weird aren’t you? I mean, really weird!” I do strange things compared to my contemporary friends, like a long walk in the hills engrossing myself in everything around me and just enjoying the fact that I can. Meanwhile, other people might be stirring with a hangover or shopping for gadgets and branded clothing. I get my satisfaction from pulling up Himalayan Balsam from the banks of the river, sitting out in the garden with a cider and the firepit or listening to a podcast about nutrition on an ultra marathon.

To some, I might be boring. To some, I might be introverted. To some, I am weird. But I’m happy, I know where I fit in, and I am closer every day to realising my purpose in this all-to-brief existence. I don’t need expensive things. I just need stories and memories. To me it’s a simple choice of which one is going to give you the most joy – stuff, or memories?

I am happy being easily pleased as it means I am never bored, or disappointed when the WiFi stops working, and my needs are very simple. So now, being called easily pleased is the ultimate compliment and assurance that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Are we losing sight of what makes us human?

Having my ear close to the ground these days like a Native American (my name would probably be Running Bowels or Talking B*ll*cks or something like that) I understand that due to the reliance on digital services in place of more traditional face-to-face interaction during COVID-19, the advance of said digital technology has leapt forward about five years. 

I was privy to a presentation a couple of weeks ago by an agency, whom I still don’t understand their function, where they projected what our world and society might look like in ten years time based on current patterns, developments and trends. In a nutshell, to me, it read like the most disturbing science fiction novel in history. I have read my fair share of Orwellian depictions of a dystopian future, as well as enough Philip K Dick work to stop a robot in its tracks to see that this future we are promised, full of digital wonder is surely a modern day miracle. I say this sarcastically of course. It suggests that, for example, instead of going out to work, we will all work within a game platform. We will go to the cinema within this fake reality too, along with socialising. Most dating is already done online these days, that’s nothing new, and many of us belong to communities on social media, conversing with people we have never met, but this is alongside mixing with work mates at least in a real-world situation. In my notebook to the side of me while the presentation was going on, I wrote the phrase, “Are we losing sight of what makes us human?” Existing digitally will only encourage us not to mix with real people, staying solitary instead stepping outdoors looking for real face-to-face interaction, and emphasising the already evident downturn in societal interaction to the point of normalising it. This will be music to the ears of gamers and binge-watchers worldwide who never get out of their pyjamas of course. Pandora’s box has been opened and will never be shut. As I tend to think these days, just because we can, does it mean that we should?

The subject of the spectacle shifted to healthcare, how all these advancements can prolong life, treating many diseases, but my worry is, what about mental health? The generations behind me are already seeing dramatic rises in mental health problems like depression, anxiety along with physical illnesses and conditions like diabetes, and bizarrely rickets. These same generations also, coincidentally spend more time in front of screens, on various social media platforms and gaming platforms than previous ones. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to draw the parallels. Whilst teens today fire up their games consoles, excited to play, only to have to wait two hours for it to carry out an update, and then get abuse in their headset from some nutter on the other side of the globe, I switch on my 1996 Sega Mega Drive, begin playing relatively instantly, and only get abuse from the nutter that is me.

Surely these problems will grow worse? Does it matter much if we are living longer if we are spending those extra years with troubled mental health? It reminds me of the old fact about vegetarians living longer than meat eaters by an average of ten years, to which the response is usually about those ten years being ten miserable bacon-less years.

On my evening walk that day, I began to look at the positives. A more sedentary population could mean less carbon emissions from travel. It could also see a shift in people spending less time outdoors, meaning nature might get a break thanks to reduced human activity. To those of us that hold the torch for the outdoors and the freedoms and benefits it provides us with might find our favourite places less littered. The downturn in carbon from travel however may be offset by the upturn in the need for servers to run and host this new digital age. One source estimated the carbon footprint of this would be equal to the carbon footprint of Japan.

So, is it time for me to go analogue, dig a bunker and start collecting tins of beans? No, definitely not. It’s a sign that I’m on the right track for me, and I’m possibly one of the generations that won’t necessarily have to sign up fully to this way of living just to function. By the time this derelict utopia arrives, I’ll be either dead, retired or living in a campervan in the wilderness, listening to Showaddywaddy LPs on a wind-up gramophone player, which at this rate will be Aldi car park, 600 yards down the road. 


Well it didn’t seem as dark and wet and drawn out as I originally thought it would, but winter is over. The new month of March has heralded the start of spring. In honesty, despite a couple of weeks of snow, which felt like winter giving us one more kick in the shins before it died, it’s been feeling like spring is here since early February. The telltale signs like the daffodil shoots coming through, the expectant swathes of snowdrops, and, my favourite, the increased bird song and activity.

I still continue to work from home, which as I’ve written before, is preferable for me, as it is for others. Admittedly it’s been a strange winter, full of ups and downs, but I did start the year full of energy with a new set of resolutions. The main one was to walk 1000 miles in the year. I know a few people having a go at this one and I, for one, am thoroughly enjoying it. I cover enough miles anyway with running, but walking is an obvious different pace, enabling me to notice more and spend more time outdoors. Nine weeks in, and I’m going strong. It’s great to take advantage of not spending three hours a day commuting. I can finish work at the kitchen table, put on my shoes and coat and step out for an hour or too. I spend all day alone, but it’s a different alone. The alone that’s coupled with the heart rate-raising ping of a new email, an out-of-the-blue video call on top of the tribulations of a day job. The alone I get on my walk is a relaxed alone. I can process what’s happened during the day, prepare for what might happen tomorrow, listen to music or a podcast or just walk in silence allowing my thoughts to run riot before naturally settling.

Originally, last autumn when I decided I was going to attempt the walking challenge this year, I began walking in the morning before work. This was mainly because I felt quite stressed and thought it was a great way to calm everything down before switching on my computer. It didn’t really work out that way. Instead, I’d arrive home, and within five minutes all the walk would be undone. I would then finish the day by going for a run, meaning, more often than not, I would be energised later in the evening. So I switched it around in January. The change has been overwhelming. Much more fired up ready to tackle all the crap of the day, and able to wind down in the evening. I’ve always preferred morning runs anyway, so it should have been obvious, but routines and habits have all changed in the last twelve months.

I hope you all have things or people in your lives at the moment, keeping you going, inspiring you and driving you along. If you haven’t got one or the other, or neither, try and do something about it. It’s never too late to write a list of whom or where you want to be and think about how to get there. It’s amazing how motivating it can be. Feel free to get in touch and we can do it together.

Stay safe, stay motivated, stay honest to yourself.

Walks of the mind

Walking, to me, and being in the outdoors have always been beneficial. So important in fact, that they are an essential part of my personality, my well-being and seemingly, my subconscious.

Back in 1996 when I took my first steps as a ‘jogger’, I didn’t know that it was the first rung on a ladder that has been going for 25 years and shows no sign of letting up. My outdoor pursuits have grown in those years to more than running. I’m now a walker, trail runner, naturalist (not a naturist, that is something I haven’t dabbled with – yet), cyclist, wild camper, environmentalist – the list goes on. I imagine that anyone reading this will probably be very similar, after all, you probably found this along your own journey and decided to read it. The name of the blog does not suggest that I am reviewing mobile phones, or last night’s TV. You will also possibly, I imagine, be struggling with what to do with yourself now that (in the UK) we are in lockdown 3.0.

There have been times in my life when my back has been against the wall. When I’ve been in strange places and situations, and in my own analogy, feeling like a shaken up lemonade bottle (I always liken stress and bad stuff to fizzy drink in a bottle, and actions to reduce that fizz are the motions needed to slowly open the cap to let some of it out occasionally). Running has always been my way of opening the cap slowly. Not always letting it all out, but alleviating the pressure somewhat. Slowly over the years, walking has done that too. The slower pace, the opportunity for mindfulness, the feeling of being out with your thoughts, and being unhurried I think gives you a chance to take more mental photographs and make little films in your memory that you can watch back when you need them. It’s times like we find ourselves in now that it all comes together and becomes clear why we are the way we are. We can draw on those memories to calm our anxious thoughts down, we can use them to plan future journeys in brighter times ahead, and we can just solely relive them. They can draw us out of dark places, they are food to nourish our well-being. These adventures and experiences, no matter how small are investments in a bank that we can withdraw or count on days when we can’t go out and earn more.

One thing I found interesting about lockdown, especially 1.0 was how it seemed to me that as soon as the outdoors was taken away, people wanted it more. People who probably never considered themselves outdoor people. But once the option of going for a walk in, say, Snowdonia, was taken away, the desire burned more. I am not a psychologist, so I can’t say if that’s because of the need to defy authority or whether it’s that old adage of you-don’t-know-what-you’ve-got-until-it’s-gone kind of thing. All I know is that I am fully at peace knowing that I’ve planned almost every available weekend around an adventure, a walk, a long run, and not taken anything for granted, so I can stay local and relive my mountain films in my head and plan the next ones with even more appreciation.

There has never been a better time

I will start this post by wishing you, your family and your friends and pets a very Happy New Year. However last year treated you, I hope you get what you need from 2021, and I am sending you positive, warm wishes.

I haven’t written a blog for what seems like a long time (“Thank %*@#” goes the cry). It’s not because I haven’t had anything to say – I generally always have something to say, it’s usually a choice between whether it needs to be said or if I’ll say it in the right way. Now obviously the elephant in the room in this difficult second paragraph is the C-word. Not the religious festival we just saw fly by in the blink of an eye, or the word mostly used on my birthday cards, no, of course I am referring to the C-word of the global pandemic. I’m not going to write about what I think of the politicians, or any conspiracy theories, or rant about how bad it really has affected me, as I’m sure it has affected everyone in different ways. I will address though that despite a few bumps along the way that weren’t directly related to COVID-19 and lockdown, more bi-products, I have actually enjoyed it. I’ve said before that I am a largely solitary person, and the lockdown didn’t massively change my life, and I’ve tried to work towards self-improvement throughout and seek out the positives. On New Year’s Eve, I wrote a long list of all the great things that came out of lockdown, so I have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, my introspection and getting-on-with-it mentality is the main reason my blog posts have dropped off and my social media presence has been zilch since the summer – I have just been happy doing my own thing. I look at the news every day, but I don’t get down about it as to me, it is what it is and in my trying-to-be-a-Buddhist eyes, anger and worry will do nothing. So being quite black-and-white over the matter, and just making sure I stay on the right side of the law have been just that – no fighting against things that I cannot change.

On my list of New Year’s intentions, I overwhelmingly decided to look at picking up the pieces around me of things that I used to do that had fallen by the wayside, so began writing a new blog at the weekend. Here in the UK on Monday evening, we went into another national lockdown. This altered my post considerably. I had been writing with the subject of returning to ‘normal’ (whatever that may be) and my perhaps cynical views on that. Overnight I had an enforced change of heart – I can’t write about returning to normal when people are now being told not to go out. Even I am not that insensitive (he hopes). With that thought and a combination of things that happened the following day and the rest of my New Year’s intentions, and a blissfully sunny day, my subject matter changed, and I’m glad it did.

I have many goals, intentions, ambitions, whatever you want to call them, for this year. Some of them thrill me, some of them terrify me but they do one thing – they give me a sense of purpose, hope and positivity. It got me thinking – there has never been a better time. I think it is the same for all of us. We can all think about what we would like to do with our lives, where we would like to be, even whom we would like to be. This strange situation is going to play out in its own way. It doesn’t care about you or I, and we have two great tools at our disposal: effort and attitude. I’m not saying that if you feel lonely and depressed, that it is your fault. What I’m saying is setting targets no matter what they are or how big or small they are, they can make a huge difference. There has never been a better time to look inside yourself. Never been a better time to learn something about yourself, history, the world, even someone you’ve never met. The journey could be incredible. Don’t come out of this historic pandemic and live to 100 years old just to tell your grandchildren that all you did was binge-watch stuff on some sort of streaming service (avoiding free advertising space there), and made silly videos of yourself miming to ‘Holiday’ by Madonna on another well known (and morally questionable) social media platform. You are destined for greater things!

In the first lockdown, I busied myself with lots of small projects, more for my own sanity and a break from work really. That lost its momentum during the summer and I lost my purpose somewhat. I spent most of my time outdoors, reflecting, thinking, fighting wave after wave of changes that hit me from all angles. My original hope was that I would continue to post, and continue to support and inspire others, whereas all I did was end up trying to support myself and disappearing off the radar. I half expected to read my own obituary somewhere (transient thought; as an exercise, if you’re up for it, write your own obituary. Write how you would like to be remembered and thought of at the end of your life. A bit morbid perhaps, but I had to do it for something two years ago and it can be very humbling.)

As covered earlier, but humbly reiterated, Happy New Year to you, and I genuinely send you my best wishes. You won’t be reading my obituary any time soon, I am still here and I intend to be a bit more useful.

Hau’oli makahiki hou (try saying that without smiling).

Rediscovering home

For me, as for pretty much everyone, this summer has not been normal. The strangest things I found were things like the complete inability to just jump in the car, and go and visit somewhere. Having that spark of imagination, or memory and saying, “Let’s go there”, as, in my area anyway, most places had booking systems. Furthermore, when it was possible to go somewhere, I was finding them more packed to the rafters with other tourists than normal, so things were pretty strange. I did get a good mountain walking day in over south Wales on midweek day, but it had to be an early start, which I have never minded.

On the trail…

On my previous post, I mentioned losing momentum over the summer, and lacked motivation. My way of dealing with this was to take a week off running. After returning to it, a couple of weeks later, I realised I’d been running on 6 consecutive days. Competitive drive activated. I thought, “Why not go 50 days running every single day?”, so that’s what I did. One of these runs was a few miles along the Worcestershire Way long distance footpath, which runs for 30 miles north to south, or vice versa of course. I have completed an organised ultra marathon along most of the path on two occasions. The light bulb of adventure pinged on and I decided to attempt to run the whole thing. A couple of weeks later, I decided to run it in both directions, in one go. 60 odd miles (or 100km, as that sounds more impressive).

I have lived in Worcestershire for my entire life, except for four agonising months when I lived in Warwickshire. The shame. In all those years, it’s amazing how little of the county I have seen and how little I know, although I probably know more than some. During the training for my solo ultra marathon, I covered miles and miles that I’ve never seen, passed through towns, villages, orchards, woodland and valleys completely new to my eyes and feet. One hidden gem was a valley that was home to a self-sufficient community, living in shepherd huts and cabins. Almost like a hidden oasis. There were steep climbs that were tackled practically on my hands and knees. While it made me wonder at my home county, it made me curious about firstly the other hundreds of places like it also in my county still to visit, as well as neighbouring counties and the rest of the country while I was as it. It’s things like that that make you realise how short our time is, and how busy we are. How many Saturdays to see all of Worcestershire? Don’t even get me started on all the books I need to read (or should read), films I need to see or albums I need to listen to. Next time someone says, “Life is short” – agree with them, cos it bloody is!

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account of the run, but in a nutshell, I ran out of gas/daylight at 41 miles. Not the hallowed 60 that I had dreamt of. There was a pub at 41 miles that was too good to resist. It happened to be right at the bottom of a steep bloody hill too, so perfectly placed. I’m very pleased I did it, and it was just what I needed for motivation.

As I write, I am planning the next one, in a week’s time. Another local long distance footpath, more to discover. This desire to complete things in their entirety has been with me for years. When I was younger, I cycled a little bit of the A38 road through my home town, and wondered what it would be like to cycle the whole thing. I got home and did the research for an hour or so (pre-internet days), until I was talked out of it by my parents, with their many what if questions and parental concerns. Seven years later, they watched as I cycled the length of the UK. I’d regularly run a section of my local canal, and in 2011, I ran the whole 32 miles of it. That mentality still exists. I don’t know if I’d call it adventure, stubbornness, stupidity or what, but you can bet your life, if there’s a trail, famed road or river, someone, somewhere will have at least thought about traveling it in its entirety in one fashion or another. That quizzical curiosity of what lies past the end of your street. What is beyond that hill? Then what? Then what again. And again. In old days, people didn’t have the need to do it unless it was for trade, and besides, they were probably terrified of falling off the edge of the world. Toppling off the edge of the world is fine with me.

Continue reading “Rediscovering home”

Active resting

Active resting. A contradiction in terms. How can you actively rest? Or indeed, rest in an active fashion? This is a term I have only seen splashed around lately. It seems it actually means something different to what I thought/hoped it meant.

From my running exploits over the years, I have learned many things, and terms for different training activities. It happened gradually, from just going out for a ‘run’ and seeing how it went, to having a structured training plan. I used to believe that in order to run better, I needed to run more, and as fast and as hard as possible every time I went out. After a few years and a fair bit of experience, I realised this was not the case, and I needed to have regular rest days and days that are easy runs, at a much slower pace. From my internet research, I can assume these easy days are what are now being called active resting. The act of running, but very slowly compared to your normal pace, allowing your presumably tired muscles to recover. Makes sense.

Here’s what I thought it might mean. Stay with me. I related to it because the phrase resonated with me as something I consider myself to do. I thought it might mean going outdoors for a possibly strenuous walk in the mountains, or anywhere, that whilst being taxing physically is actually resting your mind and, in the long run, providing relaxation. I may be completely wrong, but I like mine better. I do prefer to get up early on days off and distance myself from stresses and strains of every day life – resting. Not being one to lounge around in bed, this is how I choose to be alive.

In relation to the aforementioned resting, I have just (as of yesterday), reached the end of a 50 day running streak, that is, 50 days of consecutive running. It wasn’t structured, and most of my runs were active rests really, but I enjoyed it and effectively out-ran some niggling injuries that had been getting me down since June, as well as shifting a few extra pounds I had gained from being housebound and greedy. The feeling of being overweight, though only by a few pounds, coupled with pain when running and a distinct lack of motivation pushed me to taking a week off and seriously consider whether running was still something I wanted to continue doing. So I picked it up again, created a couple of challenges for myself and allowed them to keep me focused, driven and motivated. Thinking lockdown and working from home would only last a month at most back in March, I made the most of every day, running, workouts in the garden, push up challenges, just being in the garden; but as time went on and various issues niggled at me, I lost my drive, purpose and motivation. Luckily I seem to have recovered some, if not all of it. In the midst of it, I wildcamped and also managed a pretty rewarding day in my favourite part of South Wales.

So, fingers crossed, I’ll bore you stupid with one of my stories from one of my adventures next time, as I haven’t done it yet. Stand by.

Sunrise, and reconnecting

The last time I got up at 3.30am, other than to go to the toilet, was to run an ultra marathon. It’s not the sort of time that people get up to do normal things. In my experience however, normal is a little bit boring. Ok, a big bit boring. My alarm went off at the said time and I rolled out of my pit. Everything was ready, all set out the night before. All I had to do was make a flask of tea and have something to eat. Thirty minutes later, I’m in the car driving to my destination, some four miles away, the new day beginning to glow on the horizon in my rear view mirror. The purpose of my trip was to see something that happens every day, yet we take it for granted despite its beauty and significance – the sunrise.

I have these periods in my life that I go through where I am very conscious of time passing by – through my fingers, like sand. How many times will I be able to see the sunrise in my life? How much more time that is not guaranteed to me, or you, in any way will be taken for granted and flushed down the toilet of life?

I parked up and began my walk. I had no route planned, so I just followed my feet until I found a comfortable spot to sit and watch the show. More often than not when I’ve seen sunrises and sunsets, there has been a bit of disappointment as cloud or haze gets in the way. This time was unprecedented though. Just after 5 am there was a burning orange dot that grew and grew then flashed across the sky. Here it was. The new day. I felt the light on my face and the warmth flooding in. The tea I brewed was perfect, the scene was spectacular and the company was pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Little did I know though that the sunrise was only the starter. The wildlife I saw that morning was the main course and dessert. There were countless deer, in close proximity, hares, kites, skylarks and a lone fox, blissfully unaware of my gaze as he zig-zagged through the crops, hopefully following the scent of an unsuspecting creature.

It wasn’t until 9 am that I saw human beings. Getting home at 11 am, after an already 8 hour day is definitely not practical to repeat very often, but is humbling enough to do again. I am definitely seeing these solo forays into the outdoors these days as reconnection exercises, as I am calling them. It’s all too easy to lose the sense of who you are, where you sit and how you fit in to the world. If getting up at 3 am to watch such an amazing event for free while the rest of town sleeps is all it takes to do that, then I’m happy.

The bit between two normals

I gave out some (no doubt unheeded, dubious) advice to a teenager at the weekend about living in the moment – about not dwelling on the past and not assuming tomorrow is going to happen. Whilst a teenager’s life is vastly different to mine, I feel the advice was relevant and a little nugget of life insight, which undoubtedly was not what they wanted to hear, yet will read all about on Flikflok, or whatever the tripe is called, and then feed it back to me as if it’s a complete revelation that they, nor I have ever heard before.

Living in the moment, so I’ve been reading, is a massive factor in maintaining one’s mental health. It’s something I admittedly don’t do enough of, though probably more than most. Definitely more than the average teenager. I find when I’m outdoors I tend to be more present, stopping to admire a spider’s web, listening out for birdsong, and watching Housemartins sweep and swoop. I’ve probably said it before but lockdown has not brought me down at all, directly. I say directly as factors associated with it have succeeded somewhat, but the whole working from home jazz, and social distancing has, if anything, improved my well being. I’ve always strongly disliked the office environment as regular readers will confirm, so dealing with colleagues on a screen twice a day is bliss. It does pose some serious questions to ask myself though, like why do I need to spend four hours a day commuting in order to fulfill exactly the same job role and feel much better about it too? The time I used to spend commuting is now taken up walking or running in the morning, or out in the garden, watching it grow and feeding the birds. Zero negativity. Zero carbon emissions.

It’s just as well I am enjoying this slower pace of life, having more time to relax and do what I enjoy, reading and attempting to meditate, as I am not sure what I am less enthusiastic about: the old normal or the new normal. I don’t want to sound like I am taking the urine, as I know plenty of people are struggling for many different reasons, and I know I am very lucky compared to some. I just feel that the current situation is not so far from my normal, insular, way of life anyway, and it’s actually allowed me to flourish a little. It was interesting when this all started, weeks ago and comparisons were made to World War Two, as politicians tried to convince them and us that we could all club together and pull through like previous generations did, evoking the war effort. I didn’t see any of that at all. Politicians still had their eyes on money and bending the rules, and the majority of the population went out and selfishly looted bog roll and other essentials that they didn’t actually need. It would have been interesting to see the population cope for just a week under strict rationing. Try six years of it. I can now understand why a large proportion of society were actually caught up in the bittersweet celebrations of VE Day in 1945, as it effectively signalled the end of near socialist, co-operative living, and in the case of the women who kept Britain eating, fighting and moving, potentially the end of their independence and freedom. The men were coming back, and normal roles would be resumed. Obviously, we know it wasn’t the case for long and social reform happened. What will the COVID-19 equivalent be? Let’s wait and see. Probably the doubling of McDonald’s drive through lanes, though I sincerely hope not.

So, as I try to learn more about nature the more I realise how much I, and we, need it. It is flourishing without us. We would not flourish without it. I hope to emerge from this experience with countless more positives than negatives.