Finally, I sat down today and wrote out a comprehensive plan of how to take my hiking novel forward. The main issue I’ve faced is that a lot of the advice I’d given was pre-pandemic, so, for instance, info on train travel to reach destinations or visiting a pub was in need of revision. Covid-19 caused my usual drive to evaporate – like a lot of people’s, I guess – and I shelved my attempts to carry on with writing the novel for several months.
Lockdown came and went. Thankfully, my editor, Jessica Coleman (www.colemanediting.co.uk), was always on hand to give me sage advice. Jessica advised me to keep a journal of 2020 to record not only the hikes I took in this new world, but also what coping mechanisms I adopted. Without this sound and simple advice, I think I may’ve consigned my book as a lost project – something which I’m ashamed to admit.
Keeping a journal has been a novel experience for me: the whole exercise has been a chance for me to reflect and to think up new ways to carry on hiking. For instance, if you read my recent post on how to travel the world for free, you’ll know that I’m attempting to walk every capital city in the world via YouTube from the comfort of my own front room. So far, I’ve done six; I’m going to give an update on my virtual adventures in a near future post. Spoiler alert: I’m off to Caracas, Venezuela tonight.
Being able to reflect made me realise on a deeper level than before that hiking is therapy for me. Going outside freely again after lockdown – in a socially distanced way – over the summer emblazoned my heart with fresh passion. I think that deeper sense of love for this hobby comes across more in my renewed edits.
Journaling has given me a source of hope and strength. Without thinking about it, I was writing the book even when I was thinking about giving it up. Sure, as well as revising what I’d already written, I have another chapter to write for this year. But that’s okay because, thinking about it now, despite all that’s gone on I know I can relay a message of hope.
When hope was lost it was hard for me to write. But thanks to my family, friends, Jessica Coleman’s advice and kind words and being connected with lovely people here on WordPress, hope has returned.
Thanks for reading this. If you have any comments, it’d be great to hear from you.
Peace and love…and hope for now xxxx
When this world bruises you, leaving you battered and forlorn,
Hold on, hold on – I know you can brace this storm.
Don’t think about the past or be guided by future fears,
Just anchor yourself in the present, let go of those tears.
Stay grounded in this moment – there’s so much joy in the now,
Send a message to your heart, I promise you’ll get through this somehow.
Ten-thirty in the morning, rushing around with last minute packing,
My mate Rob is waiting outside, I’d better get cracking.
A two hour drive north awaits for adventure to start,
The excitement is starting to build in my heart.
I jump in the car, the engine is running,
Let’s go to a place where the scenery is stunning.
Two hours later, we’re there, the tent is pitched,
Bags are dumped and without a hitch
We march across farm fields – hope we don’t get a stitch!
Our friend Aaron has joined us from Yorkshire, for which
We are grateful as he directs our hike without a glitch,
Now at the pub, for a pint we itch!
After a pint or three we treapse through country roads in rain,
Amid gentle hills that keep rolling again and again.
The sky is grey as rocks, as hard as stone,
I’m glad I didn’t undertake this alone.
Idyllic villages with churches, pubs and friendly locals,
This is a trip that for a long time I shall be vocal.
After a seven mile walk and four pubs (where we socially distanced, of course),
We head back to the campsite where we hear plenty of snores.
Next morning, we’re up and out early as you like
As we head to stunning Rutland Water to use our bikes,
Through rocky trails by the lake and through woods,
A seventeen mile pedal will do our legs and souls good.
On one side is the water, so still and calming,
On the other there’s fields so ripe for farming.
At Normanton, we whizz by the ‘floating church’ that stands on the water,
Should you visit here? Yes, I think you ought to!
Then, we cycle over the dam that stands so proud,
For our tiniest county, Rutland should sing it loud.
For here, there’s lots and lots for whoever you are with,
Cycle, hike, sail, birdwatch, even catch a fish
As we finish our biking adventure, feeling stronger,
I wish we’d stayed here a heck of a lot longer.
We’ve experienced Rutland in such a short time space,
I hope these memories never ever erase.
This weekend my friends and I descended upon Rutland, the smallest county in the UK. It may be tiny, but it packs a punch. It was great to hang out with my friends during these Covid-19 times. New rules and restrictions are important, and we managed to adapt our adventures well to that. I feel blessed to share these experiences with my friends.
The photos are a mix of ones we all took.
If you live in the UK or if you visit from abroad at some point, I hope you can visit Rutland.
Peace and love for now 😊
(*All you need to pay is your monthly internet bill).
As the rain slaloms down my front room window on this gloomy October morning, I’m on an early morning summer stroll around Tokyo. The throngs of early morning commuters seem oblivious to the giant electronic boards displaying all sorts of products and famous faces overhead. All the while, I march on the spot next to my sofa. Soon, as I’m hiking through the affluent Ginza shopping district, I hear the kettle begin to reach the boil. I hit pause on the screen and nip into the kitchen to make my coffee, then don my headphones once more and continue on my journey around the Japanese capital.
This has become a very common event for me in 2020: like a lot of people in these times of pandemic, I’ve had to become creative about how I travel. I still love to go outside and explore the countryside. However, having been through the gruelling national lockdown earlier in the year in the UK and with an uncertain winter looming, I’ve had to take the outside indoors.
I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts that one way to achieve this has been to watch virtual hiking videos on YouTube of other places around the world. I’ve explored the Icelandic wilderness, traversed heavenly Hawaiian beaches and reached dizzying heights in Swiss mountains.
Although I’m not in these places for real, I’ve journeyed the world on a more intimate level than before.
This whole experience seems to be evolving and becoming a hobby in its own right.
Then, earlier this week, I watched videos by a YouTuber called Drew Binsky. He has been fortunate enough to visit every country in the world; it seems that he’s managed to captured a staggering amount of his trips on film. One feature of certain trips he undertakes is to challenge himself to see how far he can go on ten dollars in a day in capital cities across the world.
This made me think: maybe I could visit every capital city in the world! Okay, as I’ve highlighted, travelling afar isn’t a realistic option for me at present. Plus, I can only really afford a small holiday each year. But visiting every country is doable via YouTube. Every single 195 of them.
I’ve set myself a few rules for the challenge:
• I have a year to do this.
• I have to walk in at least each capital city for forty minutes a time.
• I have to learn five amazing facts about that country.
• If I can’t find a virtual walk of a country’s capital, then I must watch another video or two on that country and walk on the spot during that.
I started in Tokyo as Japan is the number one country I’d love to visit. I think I’ll tackle this challenge continent by continent, but it’s fine if I chose to tackle another area of the world for a bit too. If I think I’d like to stay in a country for a while and escape the city vibe, then that’s a good reason to read more widely and visit another part of that land via YouTube. I’m going to make a list of all the countries and capitals and write a few brief memories of each.
From previous searches on YouTube, I know it’s also possible to do tours of certain landmarks or museums in various cities. This will help me to explore the culture in various destinations a little more.
Also, I’ve found that by typing ‘Virtual World Tours’ into Google, there are other websites that open the world before my eyes.
Although this health and budget friendly way of travelling doesn’t beat immersing myself in the real world, I’m looking forward to gaining a flavour of what each country has to offer.
I hope this inspires anybody reading this to take up the challenge or even just to try a few virtual hikes. Who knows where it may take you once we’re more free to travel?
I’d be interested to hear what you think. Or it’d be great to hear from you if you’ve come up with any novel ways in being creative with your travel bug during these crazy times.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I truly hope that you and your loved ones are safe and have a good week.
Peace and love for now
In the puzzling universe of Parallel Time, Professor Overbach studies the Moon from his observatory. With his eye fixed tight to the lense of the telescope he notices some odd goings on.
‘Over there! Over there!’ he exclaims to his quiet assistant. ‘Did you see that?’
The assistant shuffles in the background, feeling nervous that the professor is becoming overexcited again.
‘Here, take it. That’s right. Tweak it left a little…up a bit…Perfect.’
The assistant gasps.
‘You saw him? The old guy in the rocking chair!’ squeals the professor. ‘He gets up occasionally and lifts up a small flap in the Moon’s surface.
The assistant whispers in Professor Overbach’s ear.
‘He’s ejecting video tapes, you say?’ says the Professor. ‘Let me see.’
He observes, contemplates and observes again.
‘He’s handing over the tape to a blade of grass in a canoe. They’re talking about something.’
The quiet assistant nods quietly.
‘The blade of grass is starting to paddle. Keep an eye on this for me. I’m off for a sandwich.’
Even bizarre events can’t stop Professor Overbach from pampering the needs of his stomach.
The Professor returns and asks for an update. The silent assistant whispers in his ear again.
‘Let me get this right,’ Professor Overbach muses. ‘You saw the blade of grass paddle up to a pelican wearing a pair of green carpet slippers holding a ‘No Access’ sign?’
The assistant nods.
‘Then the pelican pulled a lever to reveal a large circular hole that it then lobs the tapes down.’
The assistant nods yet again.
‘Pelicans, old men, blades of grass, large holes on the surface…What is going on here?’
The assistant takes to the Professor’s ear again.
‘You think we should call NASA right away? Not just yet. Keep an eye on it. I’m popping out for a milkshake.’
Once the Professor is back the silent assistant makes hushed tones in his lughole.
‘You’ve noticed that when the pelican throws a video tape in the hole a new one pops into the old man’s hand at the same time?’
The assistant confirms with a smile and a nod, then whispers again.
‘You’ve come to the conclusion that the Moon’s energy derives from recycled video tapes of human history? You mean they’re recording us over and over to power the Moon?!’ inquires the Professor.
Predictably, the assistant nods.
The Professor puffs his cheeks.
He consults charts.
He punches calculations into the computer.
He takes a gulp of strawberry milkshake and peers into the telescope once more before coming to one final unshakeable answer.
‘Stuff this for a games of soldiers. I’m off down the pub!’
Autumn fires burn
Yellows and oranges lick the air
Rising up and cleansing us
From what has come before.
On this still, calm evening
As wood cracks beneath the glowing flame
I wonder if He-Man has ever caught a bus
To avoid looking at some roof tiles.
There’s a break in the cloud
Like a chimney hole in the sky.
If Skeletor hadn’t hired those dodgy builders,
Then Battle Cat could’ve made He-Man a nice fruit salad for the bus journey.
I push the dying embers about
With a fallen branch from a tree,
Reflecting that Castle Greyskull is light years away –
At least He-Man has two left hands and a box of Captain Crunch.
Hope you’re all well.
Whenever I watch the news these days it seems every country has measures against Covid-19. Here in the UK we’ve been subjected to more Covid-19 restrictions. Another national lockdown may be looming. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing I truly hope you are safe and well.
These crazy days have made me dream of things I’d like to do in a post-pandemic world. I think at the present time having dreams is so important. Dreams feed the soul and bring hope. Even if, as times pass, those wishes change, that initial spark and the processes that stream out from it provide a way of making the day-to-day world more bearable.
So – even if my dreams stay as dreams – here’s my top 5 of things I’d like to achieve:
1) FINISH MY HIKING BOOK
Lockdown put my novel on hiatus. Life had become so static that I took long gaps in my writing. It was a job to keep my head in the game. As the weeks went on, I decided to keep a diary of my lockdown adventures. I think this has kept me sane and has given me fresh material.
Covid-19 has meant that I’ve had to re-work large sections of my book – and the idea of this contributed to my procrastination as well – but I’m in a better place to finish now, even if I’m six months behind!
2) DISCOVER MY LOCAL AREA MORE
Whilst I can’t wait to be out traveling across Beautiful Britain again, local walks have taken on a whole meaning of their own this year. For instance, after living in my adopted home town in Berkshire for the last ten years, I’ve only just found out that I live near the woods that are said to have inspired Kenneth Graham to write ‘Wind In The Willows’! Also, back in the day a local quarry was used to supply stone for Windsor Castle.
I can’t wait to unearth more local history on my hikes soon – it’s become quite addictive!
3) LEARN NEW ADVENTURE SKILLS
Lockdown contained us. I think a natural response for me has been to try and live life to the fullest (in a socially distanced and responsible way).
I recently went kayaking for the first time. You can read about my ‘attempts’ in my recent poem ‘Kayak Attack’. My friend and I had been discussing other stuff we could do to vary our adventures up. For instance, we’ve started taking a small camping stove with us on day hikes and making meals. Part of the fun is finding somewhere secluded in the woods to knock up some tasty treats. There’s something very satisfying in cooking and eating a hot meal outdoors.
It would be so great if we could get to the stage where we’re competent kayakers and could paddle to an island in a lake for an overnight cook and camp.
4) ICELAND HOLIDAY
During the original lockdown I watched a lot of YouTube videos about people travelling across Iceland. It was a virtual holiday from my own front room.Then I bought a couple of cheap books on Iceland and the idea to go there grew traction.
I put this to my friends and it’s something we hope to do once the pandemic lifts.
Erupting geysers, lava fields, glaciers, fjords…honestly, it’s such a breath taking country.
I’d say to anybody to at least try a virtual holiday of a country. Watch videos, do research, try foods from there. Look on YouTube for virtual walking tours across your chosen country’s towns, cities and wilderness; then, jump up in front of your screen and march on the spot for the duration of the video.
Who knows where it may take you once the pandemic ends?
This is my favourite super power – and, well, this is a dream post after all! As I said above, doing a virtual holiday can be fun. Now, imagine you can turn that up a notch: one moment you could be strolling along a beach in Hawaii, the next you could be amid the hustle and bustle of a street market in Istanbul.
With teleportation you could be in these places for real. Think about it. It’s a Tuesday morning at 6am; you look outside your window and it’s a dreary grey day. You check your phone and see that it’s a hot sunny day in Mumbai, so you teleport there for breakfast. A quick teleport back home for the working day and come 5pm you decide you want noodle soup in Tokyo or on a guided tour down the Amazon River!
You could also use your chosen power to fight the forces of evil too.
Just writing that makes life seem more bearable!
I hope that this inspires you in some small way to chase pursuits of your own. What I’ve realised is that dreams – whether fulfilled or not – are so important in us developing a sense of ourselves.
If you have any comments, it’d be great to hear from you. I’d be interested to hear what’s on other people’s post-pandemic hitlist.
I hope you’re able to achieve a little something for yourself during this crazy time.
Have a good weekend, Everybody 😊
Through the hazy glow of dawn,
As pinks and golds stream across the land,
And dance and glint across the rivers,
It’s only when I’m with you that I understand.
For here Time pauses and suspends,
The World becomes wonderful and new.
The Sleeping Sun has awoken
And casts hope on everything we do.
The still and calming waters did nothing to clear my mind,
As the others paddled on, I was left far behind.
Struggling to keep my balance, I can’t even swim,
As I cussed and cursed I knew my chances were looking grim.
But I was doing it – kayaking and challenging myself:
What a bonus for physical and mental health!
Soon I kept a steady line and picked up speed –
As I cut through the water I thought I’d finally succeed.
Yes, at long last I thought I was getting a grip,
But then my back locked, spasmed and gave me gyp.
I lay there horizontal, staring at the endless blue sky,
As long as I didn’t capsize there was no need to cry.
Soon the feeling passed and I paddled slowly back to shore,
Despite all the problems I faced I knew I wanted to do this more.
On the sand, I rose, legs buckled and I fell back in the lake,
There’s nothing like a cold bath to make me stay awake.
I shivered, shook and stamped as I waited for my friends to return,
I want to do this again – Will I ever, ever learn?