Have you ever walked your dog and been in a world of perfect solace? Absolute calm and contemplation flows over you regardless of your location whether it be a park, a field, a hill-side, a mountain or anywhere you are lucky enough to get to where there is so much silence, it can almost hurt your ears for the first few minutes until you get used to it.
Living in the part of the world that I do, I find I am lucky enough to experience that almost whenever I want as it is only my timetable that offers any restriction to how often I can be faced with the view in this page heading. I often wonder if it is because I live here that no matter how many times I leave I always gravitate back. I tried Oxford for a while and then London for an even shorter spell but nothing compares to the wide open spaces we are offered just a couple of miles out-of-town. The best part is, you can drive, cycle or even walk there so again the only restriction on that is your time. I am no countryside buff, I am no ornithologist or even a photographer of it. I simply just like being surrounded by it. To me there is nothing better than sitting on the grass with so much space around you, all you can hear is the whispering grass and birdsong.
I was asked recently where I would like to go that I have never been before. Most people say somewhere exotic and admittedly there is a part of me that would love the sunshine and sea of a tropical island, but in the same breath, I would love it on the Scottish Isles, Shetland or similar. I have for several years meant to travel to Kielder Forest in Northumberland just so I can simply lay on the grass on a clear night and look at all of the stars. Apparently it is the best place in the UK to stargaze due to the lack of light pollution. Again I am no Astronomer I just simply like the stars to look at in wonder and awe. The same as you might on a walk when you see an established oak or elm tree that has been standing strong and tall for years. You don’t need to be a Dendrologist to realise that you are in the presence of something immense, all you need do it look at it and wonder in its magnificence.
I was fortunate a few years ago to drive through a place by the name of Pitlochry whilst on my way to Inverness. Now to anyone not paying attention, there is not much to see but if the more perceptive of us actually take a look around, we would see a beautiful town set in some of the most stunning scenery and if we were really paying attention, it should by rights stay with us for all our lives. Well that’s what I think anyway!
Pitlochry is the only other place I have been to where I actually thought I could live there. Maybe with visions of Northern Exposure dancing around my mind I will one day go for it but until such times I am absolutely grateful for where I live now. It is friendly and hospitable, the scenery is absolutely wonderful and the walking is amazing. You could walk for days and still never come across any cities, towns or villages.
We have here in my part of the country something called The Ridgeway. It runs through a geographical area known as The Berkshire Downs. It starts up in Ivinghoe Beacon in the Chilterns and ends around an area known as West Kennett which is in a county by the name of Wiltshire. The Ridgeway is thought to be Britains oldest road and was opened as a National Trail in 1973. If you do walk the entire length of it, you will follow a route used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers. The 87 mile long Ridgeway passes through ancient landscapes through downland, secluded valleys and woodland and I live right NEXT to it! How lucky is that!
It is not very often you get to live in a place with such natural beauty and grow old enough to take stock of it. Places like these are where children grow into young adults who believe the only view that they want of the area is the one in their rear view mirrors so are determined to get away before they are actually old enough to enjoy or at least understand what they have right in front of them. I admit at one point I was one of them, I tried to get away but as I said, I simply gravitated back here and now I regularly find myself walking on the Ridgeway then making my way down through stables and gallops where Grand National winners are trained. I can at present only walk so far and that is what has piqued my interest in this subject today. I very much enjoy the wildlife and scenery, but have to ask without this surgery, how much longer will I be in a position to do so?
With the weight I am carrying, I find it difficult to walk but I love the countryside so much, I go anyway. This is detrimental to my health because of the amount of pressure I put on my joints. It can also send me into a ravenous eating mania that might take a couple of days to pull back from and thus any good I may have done myself would soon be undone over the coming mealtimes. I now know how much better my life will be after having the surgery and it will be the simple things that prove it and living where I do, I will be able to experience them first hand. I am looking forward to my activity increasing tenfold and getting to spend a lot more time in the countryside that I love with my littlest best friend Archie the dog, a wonderful companion with the terriers curse of terrible breath.
In fact, thinking about it I may even do a charity walk along the length of the Ridgeway next year to raise money for the Churchill Hospital as a way of saying thank you for helping me improve my life. I can take a tent and camp along the way, eat beans from a saucepan heated on a primus stove and share the tent with my little pal Archie.
Mind you, if I do, I couldn’t begin to imagine the smell of the tent in the morning what with me eating campfire beans and Archie’s bad breath, it’s just as well we would be in the middle of the countryside 😉
Stay out of the fridge.