How much things can change in a week. I said goodbye to everyone last week and uttered the words ‘see you next week’ Accept I now won’t be seeing everyone ‘next week’ as the group is now on hold due to the Corona Virus.
I have been walking with a Walk for Health walking group from my local community centre for over a year and a half. We meet up at the centre, have a walk round the nearby local nature reserve and return to the centre for a 50p cup of tea or coffee and often breakfasts or cakes! The group has been there for me throughout the ups and downs of my mental health difficulties. The warmth and care of the group never fails to blow me away. When I had a period of time away from the group for health reasons I was really touched to receive a card from everyone. The group have always encouraged me throughout my recovery journey and advice from one particular group member helped me to go for a particular job which I have now been offered. If you are away for a period of time the group always welcome you back with open arms. The group has increased in size over the last 6 months with often over 20 people walking with us. Despite it being a large group I never find it overwhelming, there is always someone to talk to. I have also started volunteering with the group, being the person at the back to make sure no-one gets left behind, being the person in the middle to show and tell people things about nature or leading the occasional walk. The walk is often my only social contact outside of my family and an important part of my weekly routine.
Now that the group is paused I feel regretful that I never thought to ask anyone for their contact phone number or email to keep in touch outside of the group. In this current situation it’s made me think about my connections and how fragile some of them are. I will pass on the link to this blog to the walk coordinator in case they are able to share with the group. I am intending on writing about a walk I take each week as long as health of myself and family permits, to hopefully bring the outside in to those unable to leave their homes.
It felt eerily quiet walking into the woods without the chatter of the group with me. The sky was grey, reflecting the somber mood. Recently I was chatting with Andy O’ Neill who carved a series of wood sculptures in the woodland for local friends group, Friends of Badock’s wood who achieved funding to get them installed. The sculptures have been there quite a long time now and are slowly decaying back to nature. I said to Andy I’d take some photos of the sculptures so he could see that they would now look like. Here are the series of photos I took.
As we walked around the woods the birds were in song – the Robins foraging for worms singing in their biggest voices, always there to offer a bit of hope on a grey sky day. The little Wren, the most common bird in the UK and one of the smallest birds, was flying in and out of the scrub, probably collecting things to build it’s nest with. Our walk was punctuated by the song of the Chiffchaff, you can listen to one here they arrive in the UK in late March and have a very distinctive sound once you hear the call.
The spring flowers are now nearly all out, the Celandine, with their bright yellow flowers appeared in January and are still doing well.
The wood anemones have been out a few weeks and are starting to carpet the woodland floor.
When I saw my first Badock’s Bluebell I felt a little pang of sadness that I couldn’t point it out to the group. I also spotted a few wild garlic flowers out in sheltered spots of the woodland.
Two white flowering plants were also out – Cow Parsley and Hogweed – they are members of the umbellifers family of plants, these two are both edible wild foods, but I am never confident enough to eat them as there are other very similar looking plants in the same family which are deadly poisonous! There was also another wild edible called ‘Alexanders’
As my walk came to an end I admired the mosaic at the entrance to the nature reserve and reflected on my walk. I really missed being able to show people the signs of spring, I missed the people and conversation. When the group does begin again I know I will return with an even greater understanding of what the group means to me.
Take care everyone, I hope to post again next week, where I hope to talk a bit about mindful photography and some photography exercises you can try whilst out walking or in your garden.