The past weekend was quite fraught - lots of emotional ups and downs. It's tough on all of us right now, and even though we support one another and just get on with things as best as we can, I suddenly felt as though I'd hit a wall. Tired and drained and in need of a little boost. So on Monday I did something truly extravagant. I dropped Joe at nursery and took three hours for myself to escape into the hills.
I know I talk quite often about the benefits of getting outdoors but it really is something I feel passionately about. It's my prescription for peace of mind. So, armed with the camera, off I went. Up onto the moors where I sat in the sunshine and enjoyed some much-needed solitude. Just the sound of the sheep for company; even the wind which had been howling all weekend had suddenly disappeared overnight.
Being on the moors reminds me of my childhood. I know the paths and hills, streams and even the dry stone walls like the back of my hand. It's a comforting place to be and I love it in all weathers. It's where I've galloped along on my pony; where I've sat and picnicked. We had adventures up there in those precious after-school hours of summers long ago. Lots of memories. And nothing up there ever seems to change.
Walking alone can be a real luxury. You have the freedom to wander off on mini expeditions, peering over walls or examining nature's little details. Of course it can be an occasionally scary experience too. Like when I dropped down through the woods and had one of those horror film moments. The loud snapping of a branch. Your heart's in your mouth as you slowly turn to look behind you into the trees. Nothing. Rising panic, imagining your pursuer hiding and watching. Then the relief as you realise it was just a fat, clumsy woodpigeon sitting on a bough which couldn't take it's weight.
Yes, I swore at the pigeon.
Of course, you can't walk too far around these parts before you're engaged in conversation. This time I was advised on where to find a female pheasant and her five chicks ('I see you've got your camera').
My long walk across the hills took me down into the villages close to our own. Having enjoyed the moors and the wilderness it was good to just notice what people had been up to as I passed by and observed. Like taking a little diversion through some woodland allotments and looking at what was growing. And noticing a sweet little house I've always admired is now up for sale.
Those three hours were incredibly therapeutic. The colours: purples, mossy greens, browns, greys. The sound of water as I walked alongside streams and leaned over waterfalls. The smells of fresh air and damp earth in the depths of the woods. The sense of the seasons shifting. I was momentarily lost in myself, thoughts scudding along and shifting like the clouds.