One of the best remedies for a low mood or a touch of the blues has got to be to get outside, get moving and breathe some fresh air – it’s hard to stay grumpy in the great outdoors. There’s something about escaping into nature that helps get things into perspective and brings mind and body into harmony, while simply noticing the sights, sounds and smells around you can be very uplifting.
I guess it’s easy for me to say as I live in England’s most scenic county (no arguing at the back). I’m never far from a breath-taking view of our fells, lakes or forests, which have a different aspect each time depending on the weather and the season. This weekend saw our annual pilgrimage to a secret wood where the bluebells bloom in profusion at this time of year, scenting the air with a delicious hyacinth perfume. We got the camera out and retraced the same paths we’ve taken over the years, alone or with friends, with babies in backpacks and slow-paced toddlers, or growing boys running on ahead. Each one a treasured snapshot of shared and joyful times.
My sons have been lucky enough to grow up here, with easy access to a wild natural playground. I’m conscious that children nowadays often don’t grow up with the same freedom that we took for granted when I was a child – able to take off on our bikes for the day, climb trees, make dens, go for a paddle, get dirty – and all without any mobile phones to check up on our whereabouts! Too often ‘playing out’ no longer seems an option for kids, unless it’s supervised and organised to within an inch of its life. Even the natural sounds of children having fun are frowned upon – a recent news article reported on a local resident’s bid to close down a nearby playground on the basis that the noise created by kids enjoying themselves was disrupting his peace.
Many people will have been saddened this week to hear about the father who was looking forward to giving his children a little adventure in a new rowing boat, with fatal consequences when it capsized in fast flowing water. Whatever lessons must be learnt from this tragic accident, let’s hope it doesn’t lead to us keeping kids safely indoors glued to screens or computer games. Some of my most memorable times with my sons have involved outdoor adventures: camping out till it was dark and cooking sausages on a driftwood bonfire on the Welsh coast; paddling inflatable canoes downriver in Slovakia; jumping into crystal-clear pools fed by chilly waterfalls here in our own Lake District. I’m sure they have many far more thrilling memories from their adult-free escapades, but it’s probably all for the best that I don’t know too many details about those . . .
What are your favourite outdoor memorable moments?
Lyrics of the week
In place of a poem , a couple of verses from a lovely folk song in praise of the natural world
Come by the hills to a land where fancy is free
And stand where the peaks meet the sky and the lochs reach the sea
Where the rivers run clear and the bracken is gold in the sun
And the cares of tomorrow must wait ’til this day is done.
Come by the hills to the land where life is a song
And sing while the birds fill the air with their joy all day long
Where the trees sway in time and even the wind sings in tune
And the cares of tomorrow can wait ’til this day is done.