As Lockdown begins to slowly lift in the UK, I wrote this as we can enjoy the outdoors again. However, it’s also important to have respect for others and keep a distance as we acclimatise to this new way of being.
Wherever you are in the world, it’s my true wish that you enjoy the Great Outdoors without worry and that you stay safe.
Step back and build a little mountain of your own.
This poem is about the importance of retreating from the world and caring for yourself once in a while or when the world gets you down. It’s important we all have a place where we can restore ourselves. I think self-care and being able to openly talk about mental health issues is so important.
Being high up on mountains or hills is where I can restore myself.
The title of the poem is adapted from a lyric by the band Idlewild.
The photos come from mountain hiking holidays I did in Scotland (2018) and Wales and Ireland (2019).
Thanks for reading this. If you have any comments, it’d be great to hear from you.
I hope you all have a good week. Stay safe and healthy 😊
In my last self-publishing update (14th May 2020) I mentioned about the sudden horror I felt when I realised that sections of my Ben Nevis hiking book needed a serious revamp. Due to the lockdown I needed to offer up-to-date safety advice regarding taking public transport to the countryside for a hike. It left me very despondent, but after chatting with my family and editor I now have a blueprint to update the book with a couple of extra chapters and sensible advice.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE RELEASE DATE
I had originally planned for a release date of late summer. That’s on hold now as we don’t know how long this lockdown business may carry on. I’m keeping a journal of all my hiking-based endeavours in lockdown so that when things start to settle I can put together those extra chapters.
Then it may be necessary to add another post-lockdown chapter as we start to venture out more frequently (and safely) into the wilderness. Time will tell how this fans out.
I really do feel that in terms of getting this all done there’s a mountain to climb. This climb is taller than Ben Nevis, but smaller than Mount Everest. Somewhere in the middle. I think Mount Whitney is about the size of it! I say this because I’d love to trek Mount Whitney one day; as difficult as it’d be I know I’d enjoy it – and that’s exactly my feelings toward my book at the moment.
Presently, I’m hoping for a release date of Spring 2021 – but it really is a case of seeing what is happening in the world before finalising the date.
EBOOK FORMATTING AND COVER UPDATE
I also mentioned in the previous self-publishing post that I have this self-imposed bugbear that formatting the book would be something I’d not be able to get my head around. I added that my brother surprised me with the knowledge he has of this.
Well, it turns out that as he’s pursuing his own projects he’s going to provide me with the know-how and tools to complete formatting the book for release on different platforms. I mentioned about the cover design and other component parts of the process and he said he’ll be able to provide support for that as well.
Given how exasperated I’d become with the extra work I now need to do for the book, to have the good news above serves as a massive morale booster; I feel that there is a tangible end date in sight now – even if that exact date is not yet known.
My brother’s involvement will free me up mentally to focus on other aspects of the self-publishing process.
When I become more involved with the other aspects of self-publishing I’ll post up the resources I use on this website.
I’VE GOT A NEW DESK
One of the joys of writing is that it can be done anywhere with pad and pen, laptop or phone. I’m normally perched on the end of my bed with scraps of paper spread about as I tap away at the keyboard.
However, we had a move about with the furniture downstairs and I’ve now got a little desk space sorted out in the kitchen. It’ll be interesting to see how writing here works out with the daily life in our household going on around me. Perhaps I’ll have to reconsider the times of day I write, but if needs be I can always retreat to my bedroom where my set-up there has served me generally well.
So, after it all falling flat last week, things are looking up again. I feel more reinvigorated to focus. By the time of the next self-publishing post I hope to share that I’ve made decent progress with revamping the book.
I’ve also got some ideas for near future posts on hiking that I’m currently working on and will post up soon.
Plus, I’ve really got into writing poetry, so there’ll be a few poem posts as well.
Thanks for reading, Everybody. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
If you have any comments, it’d be great to hear from you.
Jump on your laptop, tablet or phone – you’re blessed
Each time you log on to WordPress!
Now, I’ll tell you something that’s really true
When you’re down in the dumps and feeling blue
Put up a post, it’ll help you pull through.
And there’s some other magic that you’ve got to do:
Reach out to others, the reason why we’re here
Is to make the world a better place, to bring some cheer.
Share, gain knowledge, learn of places afar
And see how it brightens your rising star.
WordPress is such a place where these things are achieved
You’ve just got to reach out and believe.
And together a rich and overflowing tapestry we will weave
To help build an empire of eternal peace.
I was inspired to write this poem as it’s Mental Health Awareness week in the UK. WordPress offers the power to be creative, which is so important in assisting a positive outlook. Being able to share and engage with others on WordPress is such a beautiful bonus.
The poem has a rhyming scheme of two rhyming couplets followed by four lines that rhyme in a row. The sequence is repeated twice.
I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to comment below – it’d be great to hear from you 😊.
Back at the beginning of October 2019 I spent a few days in the county of Suffolk in England. Situated in the southern portion of the East Anglia region, I knew beforehand that I’d be treated to views of low lying hills, timeless villages and the awesome North Sea.
I’d found a cracking deal on a hotel for £15 (about $18 US Dollars) per night in the county town of Ipswich. The room was compact, clean and cosy. I knew before I booked that the room didn’t have a window, but as I planned to be up and out early and return late each day I knew this would be just fine.
I dumped my bags off and headed straight out to the quayside. On the way I noticed some curiously shaped buildings (like the one above) that seemed to ooze character and history, making me wonder what secrets they held from years gone by.
I found a modern light and airy pub and ordered a pint. On finding a window seat, I watched bullets of rain harmlessly explode against the surface of the River Orwell.
Despite the inclement weather nothing was going to hold me back from my main mission of this trip: visiting Lowestoft Ness, the most Easterly point in the whole of the UK. Soon, I plodded back through the mazy town centre with its delightful Tudor buildings hoping the next day brought better weather.
Still, if the weather tried to defeat me, I knew I was prepared with my oversized rain poncho!
But there was no need for that because the next day brought with it endless blue skies. An extra layer of freedom enveloped me as I spent this Autumn day in t-shirt and shorts.
Ipswich Train Station was busy with commuters when I arrived about 8am. I bought my ticket, then a coffee, dropped my rucksack on the floor and used it as a seat as I watched everybody rushing by.
Soon, and on the train, I was watching the countryside roll by. Sheep grazed lazily on the sloping fields, then we passed through dreamy villages that wouldn’t look out of place on the front of a jigsaw puzzle box. Eventually, the journey took us along the coast and the North Sea ‘waved’ hello (wave, sea – get it?).
About an hour and a half after leaving Ipswich I alighted at Lowestoft train station. Google Maps told me I had to walk for approximately twenty-five minutes to find the most Easterly point. However, what started as a pleasant foot-plod adjacent to the seafront turned into a temporary nightmare as I turned off at the wrong point and ended up in the middle of an industrial estate. Just when I started to become despondent after wandering aimlessly for several moments, I saw a signpost that brought me back on track.
Sighting the beach again, I hastened my step ever closer to my target. A line of hotels towered above me making me wish I’d researched this place more thoroughly to spend a few days here. Yet, such thoughts were put aside when the ground marker for Lowestoft Ness came into view.
I thought that there would’ve been more of a fuss made of this place – maybe even if it was just a cafe there. But then I thought that this lended the point an unassuming charm: it sat here quietly as the majestic North Sea smashed up against the rocks nearby.
I made my way back after that and enjoyed vistas across the sea as I munched on fish and chips. I did manage to find an establishment that was the most easterly cafe in the UK and had a quick coffee there. I relived my childhood in the penny arcade before jumping back on the train to Ipswich.
The other extreme points of the UK all involve more involved planning. Rockhall is the most westerly point in the Atlantic Ocean: it is a lump of rock situated way out to sea off the North-West Irish coast. The Minkies are the southernmost point; based in the Channel Islands, they boast the southernly most building in the form of a toilet (probably a good thing after a long journey). The northernmost point is Outstack, another bump of rock that is part of the Shetland Islands.
I’d love to tick these three places off my list one day, but for now the adventure of reaching the most Easterly point still burns brightly in my soul.
I hope you are all safe and well and coping with the mental strain that the current pandemic can cause.
I hit a block this week. As I was editing my hiking book I realised that certain info needed revising due to the lockdown. One of my themes in the book is to encourage people to get out into the countryside by any means necessary. However, in the UK we’re currently being told to avoid public transport.
So, if I published my book any time soon I’d get roasted for the advice I offered.
It made me stop in my tracks for a few days. Initially, I thought that the pandemic had put paid to my work of the last two years. I admit I walked away from it for a few days as I was uncertain about what to do. I reached out to my editor and she suggested to add another chapter about how I’ve coped in lockdown, to add any resources I’ve found useful and to modify the parts of the book that need it. She added that painting a message of truth and hope is important.
Whilst it’s true I’ve been out a lot less, I have adapted my hiking. As I can’t drive I’m sticking to streets close to home and I’m hiking in my garden. I’ve been aware of my thoughts and anxieties. Plus, I’ve done other things to motivate me to keep the passion for hiking burning, e.g. living a weekend off army ration packs as if I was in the wilderness.
I realised, then, that I had some material for the makings of an extra chapter. Before I knew it I had plotted a deeper outline for it and I felt more calm about everything.
The main problem is now when to release the book as we just don’t know how long the lockdown will last and what the aftermath will be. But that’ll be a chat with my editor another time.
THE FAROE ISLANDS
As I fleshed out the ideas it made me realise just how much hiking is in my blood. In recent weeks I’ve read travel books and watched hiking videos on YouTube. As good as this has been to keep me going, something more was needed. I don’t know how or why, but I used the term ‘Virtual Hike’ in Youtube – and this was a game changer.
Suddenly, I was transported into a world where the videomakers stayed behind the camera as they strolled up mountain paths and through valleys gifting me free views of what lay in front of them as if it was me taking the hike. It’s the best I can do for now, but it’s good to know I can go to a lot of new places in the world.
Maybe in time Virtual Reality will allow us to use senses like smell and touch in a virtual walking world.
Being in the real world is obviously better – and the days of seriously hiking in it shall return – but to be able to walk anywhere in the world from my front room is quite liberating.
DID I MENTION THE FAROE ISLANDS?
My favourite gem I found was this weekly virtual walking tour of the Faroe Islands:
It starts at 6pm (Greenwich Mean Time) on Wednesdays. A guide does a walking tour of an area of the islands whilst pouring out facts to the listener. The unique feature of these trips is that viewers can control where the guide goes via use of the on-screen joypad.
So, from things grinding to a halt, I’m now back on track – even if there’s more work to be done. Having discovered the world of virtual hiking I’ve found something that will be a new hobby in lockdown and a source that’ll help me get the new chapter written.
I hope you’re all okay and that you get to travel to where you want soon. For now, I highly recommend you take a virtual tour of the Faroe Islands.
Remember that on this day being bored means keeping well and healthy.
(I wrote this poem as a counterattack to the boredom I’d felt in lockdown. Some recent posts I’d read here on WordPress about positive thinking inspired me too. There’s so much power in being creative: it nourishes soul, body and mind. When creativity is shared with family, friends or strangers it can ripple out and have a potently positive effect. But sometimes being bored is okay if we can reframe it and put it in perspective. Stay safe and well, Everybody 😊).
This week the infernal boredom of being stuck in has got to me more. I know other people are going through worse things during this pandemic, but it’s so important not to neglect our own mental health. For me, I’ve found it harder and harder to motivate myself to write. In ‘normal’ times when I find it difficult to write I have a few writing activity books that have exercises in and this encourages me to keep going. Presently, though, things had almost ground to a halt.
Then I remembered the Neil Gaiman book ‘Art Matters’. In this work Gaiman says that when things get you down make art. Write, draw, paint – basically just keep being creative. Re-reading this book and reminding myself of this gave me that fresh kick I needed to keep going.
I started to watch YouTube videos of Neil Gaiman: anything from interviews about his life or his top tips for writing. My favourite piece of advice he gives is to write truthfully. Truthfully about events in your life or conveying how you feel about something in fiction in a truthful way. This is more advice that has lifted my spirits to help me endeavour.
So, I’ve been able to redouble my efforts and keep the wolves of lethargy from the door. The next time I get hit this way I’ll look up more of my favourite authors to see me through. It certainly helps.
I’ve now worked my way through the grammatical and plot changes to my Ben Nevis hiking story as suggested by my editor. Now, I’m going over it again and focusing on enhancing additional themes that she suggested bringing to the fore (e.g. the mental health benefits of walking). I’m enjoying doing this as it is helping me become more reflective as a writer by making my work more deeper and personal and hopefully it’ll resonate more with people that may be interested in reading it.
I definitely feel I’m growing in my writing abilities.
As well as the ongoing editing developments, I’ve begun to look more and more at the different aspects of self-publishing. In my last update I mentioned I can only focus on one thing at a time, but self-publishing means I need to juggle a few balls. Still, I can maintain my writing as my primary focus whilst having a few satellite projects orbiting at the same time. Keeping a checklist and schedule are important.
I’ve now got a shortlist of people to do a cover design from Fiverr. I’m looking at sorting the ISBN number for cataloguing the book as well.
The one aspect that had been causing me trepidation was getting the book formatted for different ebook platforms. Whenever I’ve thought about it my expression has been the same as the face in ‘The Scream’ by Munch. The whole experience had caused a lot of procrastination.
However, I was chatting to my brother this week and he surprised me with his knowledge of the processes involved. As the techy one in our family, it’s such a relief that he’s there to rely on when I get to this stage. I just had it in my head that formatting was going to be one of the toughest parts of self-publishing. It’s a big box ticked.
PLAN FOR THIS WEEK
The main thing is to keep motivated. To keep watching videos about my favourite authors if I’m in a quagmire.
Keeping the themes consistent in my manuscript is key now.
To have a definite cover designer by the end of this week would be good.
And to finish my blurb too.
I’m putting together a blueprint for revamping this website too.
Thanks for stopping by and reading this. Reading others posts on WordPress is a source of encouragement to keep going, so I look forward to reading some of your posts as well. Remember: as Neil Gaiman suggests, if life gets on top of you make art.