After a few weeks of pretty decent winter weather, February has hit us with heavy rain in South East England. With Storm Eunice due to hit us on Friday with 40 mph winds, I thought it was time to gain motivation for this year’s hikes and adventures.
So, I’ve been looking back over some old photos to gain inspiration, and I thought it might be worth sharing one adventure here. These photos are from when my mate and I walked up Pen y Fan, the highest point in South Wales, in 2019. It has to be one of my favourite mountains because the hills roll up along the track, meaning there are no real steep drops.
This was perfect for someone like me who has a considerable fear of heights. When we got to the top we were blessed with unspoilt views of rolling hills. The sun was trying to break through a thin fog, making it feel like we were in a mystical dreamscape.
There were plenty of pathways for us to explore the other mountains, but our tummies were rumbling heavily. Reluctantly, we headed back down and satisfied ourselves instead with a big fried breakfast!
Last weekend I was out on a hike, and I saw this lonely looking phone box in a village. It evoked in me the sense that we have to stay connected. Moreover, how it’s important to make the time to chat with one another.
I’m going through my phone contacts and making a list of people that I haven’t spoken to for a while. It’d be good to catch up.
Sometimes life just takes over and people move on – it’s a natural occurence in life. It’s also natural (and important) that we want to reconnect. Going through the names on my phone filled me with memories of times with specific people, and that filled me with joy.
The pandemic may have robbed us of certain things, but one thing that seeing that red phone box reminded me of is the importance of being there for one another, and to listen.
Reaching out to a family member, friend (old or new) or a stranger really can have a positive impact for everybody involved.
Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a great weekend with the people you love. (And give an old friend a call too).
Northern Ireland is a spectacular place. Outside of Belfast, there’s lush green countryside, rolling hills and breathtaking coast. The recent visit I did with my friends was to the Mourne Mountains where we took on the highest peak, Slieve Donard, at 850 metres.
On a bright and clear Saturday morning we headed out of Belfast passing through remote villages and deep green countryside. After about an hour’s drive we arrived at the seaside town of Newcastle – not to be confused with the city by the same name in the North-East of England – then began our journey from the car park.
We trekked up a rocky path that cut through open grassland with rich vegetation. A boulder-strewn river wound its way alongside us and provided a natural water slide for a number of day trippers in wetsuits. Soon, we were about halfway up when the path steepened and the mountains grew in stature.
And that meant one thing…
…My fear of heights kicked in!
On previous mountain explorations nerves had always gotten the better of me. But I was determined for this not to be the case this time. My friends took it in turns to drop back and motivate me to keep going as I tailed off the pace.
As we approached the Mourne Wall – which runs the entire length of the range – we noted the jet black surfaces that occasionally appeared in the side of the mountains. The tin huts dotted to the side of the track confirmed this had once been an area for slate mining.
Around a final corner, and then the final ascent to Slieve Donard presented itself: three hundred metres or so of awesome steepness! We met a man who said it would take us no more than thirty minutes. Secretly, I knew that would mean an hour for me.
Previously, I’d have taken on such a feat by stopping every so often, shutting my eyes and re-centering myself before taking on the next stretch. I’d repeat this as often as I needed. This time I had a few new tactics to battle the heights: I’d count fifty steps then stop for a bit; I’d zigzag up the mountainside instead of going straight up as it was less strenuous on my legs; and instead of melting down as before, I’d deliberately soak in the countryside to absorb it’s calming beauty. Plus, I made full use of the wall by holding onto it to help me climb as I went – making use of whatever is available is important to getting the job done. And my mates did a cracking job of keeping me going with banter and words of encouragement.
My mates waited for me thirty metres from the peak, so that we arrived together. The clouds suddenly formed around us like a thousand misty ghosts come to greet us. We took a few photos, then hastened our exit as conditions became more dense.
The descent was the most enjoyable I’ve had on a mountain. The first section required careful navigation down rock steps. At times my mind went into a vortex where the greens and the greys swirled and merged into one. Once this tricky part was completed, we trod a well used path, skipping over streams and through boggy sections. Before entering the forest path that led back into the town, I took in my surroundings: the powder blue sky had now reappeared; the mountains formed a horseshoe valley that towered over us, cascading waterfalls giving this place a more majestic quality; the chattering river snaking its way down the emerald hillsides. And all this abundant beauty overlooking the town and the Irish Sea below.
Heaven is a place on Earth!
And so was this afterwards…
Thanks for dropping by and reading this. Please feel free to leave a comment – they’re always appreciated. I hope you all have a great weekend filled with adventure 😊
Cloudy Monday morning, it’s 10 am. I’m jumping back on the train again. Lockdown: a four month gap gone at last. Now I settle into my seat donned in face mask. Some people, like me, look warily around, Others are maskless and wearing a frown. Still, on this first train there’s a respectful distance Between all of us wishing to extend our existence.
I’m on the connecting train now to my destination, Beginning to brim with anticipation At seeing my daughter, it’s been ages As I reflect that lockdown couldn’t contain us. Video chats where we played, had meals and laughed, Kept us bonded together as the time past. And as the train now snakes through countryside once more, I look forward to what the day has in store.
In this train carriage there’s hardly a soul about, So when will we return to normal with no doubts? I step on to the platform scouting a rest room to wash my hands, Recalling I’ve got paper towels as part of my hygiene plan. I’ll use my own cutlery in the pub for now, but that’s okay, If it means we’re safe and healthy for another day. I see my daughter in the car park with a smile and wave, To you all: if you travel, have fun, be responsible and safe.
Wherever you are in the the world, I hope you get to see your family and friends soon. Please travel safely and responsibly.
I’d love to know what you think of the poem. If you have any comments, it’d be great to hear from you.
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 😊).