Spring

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.

Hope on the hill

This winter seems to be dragging on. I think it just feels that way because it has been absolutely featureless – no snow, only a couple of cold days, maybe three frosty mornings – just mild, wet, rubbish. It was on one of these mild, wet, rubbish days that we went walking on a pretty prominent hill near our new home. This hill, from a distance, would probably fall into the featureless category. It almost looks man made, like a hill out of a children’s fantasy novel. No dramatic summit, precipices, or ridgelines, just…a….hill.

It was a Saturday, grey, windy, and full of pub lunch we set off on a four mile round trip around a hill that I know little about. Having visited it only three times before (and having got lost up there once), it was going to be an interesting afternoon. Straight away, the path looked different. “Oh”, I said, “I think they’ve built that house there since I was last here”. It may have been so, but it made little difference – we were still on the wrong path. Being an aspiring mountain leader, on a mole hill in comparison, I set us off on the wrong path, and left my mobile phone in the car. But I DID have an OS map, and bloody well knew how to read it. Minor glitch over with, I planned us a new route from the map and a splendid, if not wet and windblown, day was had by all. As I am experienced in these matters, I timed it perfectly so as we made the last bit of our descent, it got dark. This of course is a lie. It was a sheer fluke. And before you wonder, I did have a torch.

Now I’ve successfully criticised my skills and abilities, the English weather (Note the use of “English” as I know my Welsh friends actually experience winter), and berated the poor hill itself, I feel some redemption is required. The hill somehow captured my imagination again. That tingle of excitement about somewhere new, especially given that it’s on my doorstep. I could, and have continued to, imagine all the adventures I could have up there – trail runs, mountain biking, wild camping, tabbing, walking. Also entwined within this is knowing I can become intimately involved with it, learning its every copse, wall, meadow. Maybe some of you get this with a place in your locality. It becomes yours. You give your own names to places. What you once thought of as featureless, becomes abundant in details of interest. Seeing the seasonal changes, being familiar with the wildlife. It’s the stuff to fill notebooks with, becoming the Gilbert White of your locality. These things, if done properly, and with love and care, become vital to both ourselves and our communities in the future.

A mere thought of all this is enough to chase the slightest pathetic glimpse of stress back to where it came from. I hope you find hope wherever you are and it gives you what it gives me.