Happenstance – a Healthy walk

I took this walk in response to Unlocked walks for Spring ‘20 No 1 ‘for Health’ by Edinburgh Walking Workshop (socially distanced) and posted on Edinburgh Psychogeography. The prompt was to have questions about the links between walking and health in my mind and see what arose.

Danger! Pedestrians walking on the road

Moving away from the familiar and safe

Out of the house, I turned right instead of the usual left. I was heading towards a certain place and hoping to deviate – deviation, on occasion, being the source of imaginative instigation. 

Ahead, on the single lane bridge, was a man on the non-pavement side where there’s a ‘>’ in the wall, a ‘more than’ nick out of the road. There is more, because when you stand there and look over, you can see the river. I was prepared to walk on the pavement, to keep my distance, but he crossed back. He had a stick. I said ‘good morning’ and he seemed surprised. I crossed to the nick and leaned over to look at the water. I live by the sea in Edinburgh, but here in Kent with my mother during the Covid-19 lockdown period, I am landlocked. It is different. It has an effect on me.

A lone swan with plenty of water all to herself

I took a left at the post office. Another gentleman and I dodged right-left-right until we wordlessly worked out who would go in the road – me. We smiled, maybe murmured, I can’t remember now.

Does this shifting onto the highway to keep our distance, endanger our health?

Flood protection sandbags

My route is chosen 

I passed where the sandbags are still piled up outside ‘the pretty cottages’ from the flooding,. Further on, there were words carved in chunks of stone at the top of 2 brick gate posts – Lyngs Close. I typed it into my notes for memory’s sake, and google changed it to ‘lungs’. For once, clever google – Lyngs does mean lungs! It denotes ‘an open space in a town or city, where people can breathe fresher air’ (which I didn’t know at the time). That set off a chain reaction in my mind. 

Lyngs Close

Theme

I am a health practitioner, and when I refer to the Lungs in my work (Chinese Medicine), I spell it with a capital letter because the term encompasses both the respiratory organs and the things we practitioners have all noticed over the years that are repeatedly connected with them. For example, clients I see with asthma and other pulmonary issues, will often tell me, ‘I can’t breathe in this relationship’, or, ‘Although there is space at my work, I can’t take a deep breath when I’m there – I think it’s because my boss watches over me all the time’. These phrases link the physical lungs and the ability to breathe easily, with the psychological feelings around having enough space and freedom. 

The lyng at Lyngs Close (and Beech tree #1)

This week, the Daily Mail reported concerns that ‘political appointees are breathing down the necks of scientists’, implying that they are being pressurised to make a vaccine quickly. In ancient Chinese texts you will find references to regulations, and the setting of borders (including those between what is right and wrong) linked to the Lungs. As it is their job to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide across membranes (the borders between the alveoli, the air sacs) in order to maintain our vitality, the aspects of our lives related to rules, space and air are also connected.  We are living in a time when the government might ‘push strict lockdown rules to their limit’ and that affects each of us in different ways. I tend to rebel if the boundary is too restricted, if my freedom to create is curtailed.1

A walk theme emerged by happenstance (which I always think must be about happily coming across something). Chance is about things happening unexpectedly and about providing for the possibility of… 

Beech # 2

The Scottish charity Greenspace Scotland (2011) defines green spaces as: ‘the green lungs of our towns and cities which contribute to improving peoples’ physical and mental health…and ‘breathing spaces’ to take time out from the stresses of modern life. ‘

Gayle Souter-Brown ‘Landscape and Urban Design for Health and Wellbeing: Using healing, sensory and therapeutic gardens

You may like Alice Vincent’s Rootbound – Rewilding A Life (biography, memoir, botanical history) which examines how the heartbroken can be saved by nurturing plants.

Claustrophobia and open space

Allowing walkers a strip of land

As I made my way down the narrow close, I remembered a walk I took a few weeks ago – I was directed along a foot-width path between two fences, by a farmer who did not want ramblers on his land. This expression of limitation was in the middle of a great, grassy field. I was unable to stray in any way. I recalled the signs I had photographed the previous evening – ‘Strictly Private’ and ‘Keep Out’. In Scotland we have the ‘Freedom to Roam’, not so here in England, my original home.

Restricted parking sign
Leaves cleaning our air on our behalf

It’s like the world’s northern forests become a giant vacuum cleaner, scouring the air, sucking down the CO2 till around November

Robert Krulwich, National Geographic

Nature breathes, we all breathe. Or not

The way then opened up and there was a huge beech tree, one of earth’s 3.1 trillion ‘lungs’, with lobe-shaped leaves. (See the link in the box above for the source of that statistic). By the tree, at the edge of this oval patch of green for everyone to share, was a sign telling me that parking was for residents and their visitors only. I manoeuvred between the cars and came upon an even bigger Green, surrounded by houses and vehicles of varying shapes and sizes. I don’t have one, haven’t had for years, but I remember shutting myself in mine, in a secluded spot, to cry or scream, sleep or read when the children were at school and it all got too much. Here, it was momentarily clear, no exhaust fumes clogging up the air. I wondered if more cars were ‘at home’ than usual – that our new rules were going some way to liberating the planet from exhaust fumes.

There was a murmur of voices, slamming of doors and then a thrumming as an engine started up. It couldn’t, it tried again – the machine was coughing. 

Dry tracery of tracks and mud

I had already strayed from my path, wandered off the tarmac onto grass and the crunch of dry sticks breaking. I took a big deep breath and blew at a dandelion clock. Under my boots, a dry tracery of tracks and mud; above, birds warbled. Avian creatures are the only species with a syrinx, the air passing across these thin membranes to produce their songs. Sometimes, like the Song Thrush, there are 2 windpipes and so 2 tunes can be sung simultaneously. It’s known as ‘duetting’. (How Do Birds Sing, CelebrateUrbanBirds.com)

If they stay there long, the grass will die

I noticed two bins on the grass which I knew would starve it of light if left there for very long. Without light, as every school child is taught, it would be unable to photosynthesise, to process carbon dioxide and water and convert it into oxygen and glucose to be able to thrive.

Dandelion clock

I mused on a Facebook story: A friend living in Peru reported, ‘Six weeks of no physical exercise, except for 2 minute walks to take the rubbish out, or check the mailbox, or walk from the car park to the pharmacy…’ Another, from Scotland, wrote, ‘I have felt a bit up and down emotionally this week, wondering….when I shall see my children and grandchildren again.’ Starved of light and sunshine, of physical contact and face-to-face time with friends and family, the health of we and our environment is threatened.

Outside the Village Hall, a man and a woman in a stationary car were smoking with the windows open and the engine running.

There seemed to be cars in every shot, stealing the focus from the lilac

Alone and together

Now I was back on the main road by the bus stop. A cyclist sped past, the dynamo humming. Four-by-fours raced, causing a wind to ripple my trousers. For a moment it was me and the birdsong before the next one. As it pulled away my nostrils filled with toxic vapours. A child stamped so he could hear himself, questioned his parents. He sang a snippet of the tune in his head, aloud. It was boiling (April) – I was ‘warming’.

Sweet chestnut blooms (plus a speed restriction sign and a car)

There were the wings of a pigeon, whirring; there, the straining neck of a blackbird dashing; and there, the candelabra of the chestnut tree. I remembered that they give some people hayfever.

People have trodden an illegal path

On my right was a track, and a gate with just enough space to squeeze around. ‘How do I know where I am not allowed to walk if there are no signs?’ I caught myself wondering. I went anyway. It took my fancy. 

The pheasant hotfooting it away

There was one single crow high up in the clear blue sky; further on a solitary cat in the forage; a pesky pheasant in the stubble, its red head and plumed tail quite evident. Until it spotted me, that was. Then it ducked. If I had been a hungry buzzard at that moment, that pheasant would have seemed to be a clod of earth – cunning. A buzzing insect intercepted me and my camera. I ignored it because of the game and my thoughts. It was me and them. It smelled of hot, cut grass and faintly acrid chemicals.

8, 12, 4 birds flew around in ellipses, making a 3d spirograph of smooth circling, their wings catching the sun and glinting like morse code. I watched some more. No, the signalling came from their white bellies being exposed between wing flaps – hidden, shown, hidden, shown – around 3 x per second 2, 70-95 mph3 Notably, they choose to expend extra energy in order to fly together, adding an extra wingbeat per second in order to have compatriots to home with.4 I have brought Sara Baume’s book ‘handiwork’ for a walk with me. She writes that birds migrate with other species sometimes, if they share feeding habits. I didn’t know that. I like to think I could join a flock of others who have the same needs as me for company on the long journey. 

If I am not allowed to go there, I can’t help them

Over and over again, as I walk, I am faced with limitations and the knock-on effect of them. As I turned a corner, cars were relegated to the distance, birds and other unidentifiable noises took precedence, but I could not investigate because of the fence. On Saturday morning it was the same – I think it was a distressed duck I was hearing (perhaps because of my concern over the mother of the 2 dead ducklings the cats brought in the day before), but I couldn’t satisfy my curiosity because of the wire and wooden posts. Nor could I help, even if that had been possible. (This is another topic – the crossing over the road to avoid contact, thereby missing the opportunity to be close to another, strike up a conversation, smile into their eyes and help if need be; the secluding which precludes neighbourly chats and offers / receiving of support; the ‘Keep Out’ signs which stop me reaching the scene of the problem – none of it healthy). I realised I was walking the outside perimeter of someone’s garden. They were on one side, me the other.

Hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata

The wood pigeon gurgled her underwater sounds; the sweet smell of hawthorn was like incense in a mosque. Two rabbits ran out onto the path and turned towards me. I realised they don’t know I was there. One turned off close by, the other froze. She seemed to be unsure. A pigeon errupted from above my head, and I startled. That scared the bunny away.

Lush hedgerows and official footpath sign

Nearing the end

This was the front of the sign I got stung to see …

A woman’s voice I couldn’t quite hear, interrupted my peace. I saw the phone ringing and I didn’t answer. Before I knew it I recognised where I was and glanced at the time – it was getting on. 

I was on the official footpath, but it was the back of a sign that was towards me. I got stung by nettles trying to read it, and, although I generally think that homeopathically that does me good because I respond well to the properties of Urtica dioica, drink it every day (it’s good for the health of my joints and blood), nevertheless this is another danger inherent in rural walking!

Wilding

Raspberries gone wild

Before the cherry orchard, I came across raspberries which have been allowed to go wild. Not over excited, although maybe they are because they have grown in exuberant, prickly arches, more monumental than the brambles. (Do they compete? I wonder). They have been left, free to go their own way. Kids who ‘go wild’ are said to be having fun, they squeal and scream, their voices filling the air with their freedom of expression. I go a bit wild when I walk: I dismiss pretence and constraint. Not quite feral, not ‘gone mad’, but I have wilded. 

The voices behind me were getting louder. Closer therefore. ‘You don’t want to do it on a day like today’, he said with a forbidding tone. I stood to the side to let them pass.

I wanted to stay out until I wanted to go back. I knew, now, where I was and how long it would take to get home and guaged it was perfect timing to speak to the kids on Zoom. (Actually I was late and the youngest messaged, ‘Where are you all? I am here on my own. I could be outside.’)

Offstage, a child screamed. A fatherly voice said, ‘Calm down, don’t panic, if there’s a problem, tell me’. Then I was back on a road. They cycled past. 

So, be careful, you have been warned
You can’t do this, or that, nor the other

As I crossed the Lees, there was a procession of us, socially distanced. We were strung out, hopefully not ‘strung out’ – nervous or tense – after our walk. One woman wore headphones, cut off; a couple were knee deep in the undergrowth; a what-I-call ‘proper hiker’ was focused forwards with his baton jauntily over his shoulder like Dick Whittington (I said hello, but got no response); a friendly woman with a walking stick smiled and nodded. 

Most of us were well spaced out – these 2 must have been living together

I did go where I had intended to, but I got there an unfamiliar way. I came across a lot of warnings, but survived. My health was all the better for the open air and the Spring green.

1 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8256435/Brits-emerge-lockdown-new-figures-rise-people-outdoors.html accessed 26.4.20

2 https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/auk/v064n04/p0619-p0620.pdf

3 http://blogs.bu.edu/biolocomotion/2011/11/14/pigeon-power-dynamic-wings-improves-capabilities/

4 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190618140201.htm

Walk This Weekend – words and images

30 Women and men took a walk on the weekend of 4/5 April 2020 when most people around the world were vastly restricted in their movements for the purpose of limiting the spread of the corona virus. They took 30 minutes of exercise, as encouraged by their governments, staying close to their homes and collected sounds and images while they were out. These are being made into a video / audio, a soundtrack of photos, to share with those who are unable to leave their homes (for example in Spain). People took walks in Israel, Greece, France, Iceland, the US, the Czech Republic, Scotland and England. 79 joined the Facebook group (including the 30) over 48 hours.

I have selected one photo per participant for this blog. The other photos mentioned in the commentary below will be in the film. Guidelines were set for the walks and they can be found here.

The Pentland Hills, Edinburgh, LG

LG wrote: I started from home wearing gloves as there are a few gates and stiles to go through before gaining access to the hills near my house.  I did have to speak to one woman who commented on my walking pole, wishing she had one. She had just come down the steps in my photo, they are very steep. I climbed the steps then made a right angled turn up the side of the hill where all Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth come into view below – not a great photo it being my old smart phone, but it is amazing whatever the weather.  I walked up to the brow of the hill, the larch are beginning to flower, hard to capture, it was quite windy up there, and the fence posts all have moss hair! I sat for a while to admire the view looking east and south towards Allermuir Hill. Down across the boggy bit to the lovely stone seat erected as part of a woodland planting initiative commemorating the First World War, where I sat again to listen. Wood pigeons, chaffinches, two magpies, a flat-footed hill runner, a mountain biker struggling up the hill, lots of silent intervals. Down to a small burn, took a short video. Back along a different path and across a field through the woods to my street. Love this tree, someone once carved a heart, it has grown with the tree and the tree has formed its own heart above it ❤  This is a favourite short walk, which since my hip replacement last autumn, I can now enjoy again. I’m so lucky to have this on my doorstep – think I’d go crazy if we were confined to our homes!

Video on Facebook – click on Liza’s photos within her post and you will see her video of a beautiful burn.

Graffiti – Chichester, England, KL

KL wrote: I had a slightly belated, long, tiring and enjoyable cycle ride yesterday, but on Saturday a short suburban walk.  Space to observe normality and uncertainty, fears and opportunities, isolation and society . . .

Kim’s audio on Soundcloud 4.4.2020 – 04:04:2020, 12.40

JW sent videos – from herself in Edinburgh – Wind Murmuration – and from a friend of hers on Holy Isle off the south west coast of Scotland.

King’s College, Aberdeen, GC

GC wrote: I went for a walk around the block today that led me to Aberdeen university. I loooove that area. So nice and full of old building, lovely houses, little cottages. It’s the old Aberdeen 😍 Daffodils are in bloom, Seaton park was deserted and it all felt so peaceful. It was 3. 4km and bird and bells were ringing at 6pm. Bliss ✨⚡️#walkgowild

Yellow Gorse in Musselburgh, EP

EP wrote: I walked by the coast with my dog on Sunday afternoon – my daily walk towards Musselburgh, near Edinburgh. Lots of birds chirping in the warmth of the sun, so fortunate to have the Forth estuary on my doorstep. The sea soothes me. Seaweed in abundance, daffodils in the scrubland, bright sky sunshine – so good for the soul. I love yellow – gorse on the hill. Healing our world.🌎

Magnolia blooms, Harrow, London, CS

Carmen S wrote: It was a late evening walk, beautiful light, extraordinary blossoms, spring is here.

Wood in Shropshire, SJ

SJ wrote: Today’s walk next to my house 🙏 

‘Close’,Greece, Maria G

Maria G gave her photos titles: Walk and sense all dimensions! Far, close, hug, and Leia.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, GI

GI wrote: My favourite walk and I am so lucky to live near by the Arthur seat, Edinburgh. I could not resist to walk with the bare feet, the Earth was so warm even thought the sun came out later on – such beautiful day, very grateful for moments like this. My daughter was climbing the tree, I got the beautiful hag from it and some fresh nettles to brew the tea and we collected white fluffy feathers on the way home to be creative 🙏/ Sunday around 5pm. The concert from all the birds and gentle wind were so refreshing.

I appreciate the old bridges over the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes, Catherine S

Catharine S wrote: A stroll in the local park in Milton Keynes – along the canal, and then back along by Caldecotte Lake, up a bit to Ouzel Valley park, and back onto the Grand Union, and home.  Traffic noise is possibly less, but still pretty noisy – not too much bird song to pick up, so no audio. Pub is closed, which I notice means later on less light pollution from the sign, allowing for a bit more vision of clear, starry nights. I appreciate the old canal bridges over the Grand Union in Milton Keynes, and the good looking moon.

Danson Park, London, SS

SS wrote: Danson Park for 30 minutes this afternoon after 4:30 pm. Her video on Facebook is here. A few from me. I had a quick walk for 20 min between 14:00 and 14:20. With the first photo, I just fell in love with the bright green. The third was all about sky and sense of space. And the last 2, color, delight for the heart.

Near the Water of leith, Edinburgh, Catharine T

CT wrote: I went for a walk at about 16:00 along the Water of Leith with my husband and then, half an hour later, kept walking on my own in our communal gardens below our street, which face onto the river. I see a magpie settle on a tree. I listen to the birds, trying to identify them from their sound (I’m so bad at that) and the river flowing below. I look at the blossom across the river from the old orchard. I’m looking at the trees in the garden – can I see a tree creeper, that I haven’t seen for the past two years but I know are in the gardens? It’s very peaceful, people walking along the river, minding their distance and enjoying being out.

Reflections, Edinburgh, Catharine T

Walk 2: I walk up the steep slope in our gardens. I’m not good at birdsong but think I can hear the see-saw sound of great tits and the more mellifluous robin. I meet someone also looking for a tree creeper – they’re very hard to see, so I’m trying to learn what they sound like. I’m also looking for a wren; there are lots in the garden but you don’t often see them.  I see another two magpies – one for sorrow; two for joy; three for a girl … I’m looking down on a pigeon! it just flew away. I hear a bird give a warning sound – is that a blackbird? I’m not quite sure. Past the badger’s hole. I finished my walk down onto  the public footpath and then a brisk stride up the 140 steps from the river to our street (no landings for the first 111 steps – done without a break!) to get my cardio-vascular exercise for the day.  Catharine’s video on facebook is here.

Maria Shi-Fo sent videos of Plaka and Akropoli in Athens – autumn within Spring, Saturday morning. They are on Facebook here. She has another one taken on Sunday afternoon, not very far from Athens

Near Dalry, North Ayrshire, South West Scotland, EL

EL wrote: I walked behind the house today.  The flowering currant is in memory of our first pony Benji, wind turbines were noisy, good views and interesting lichens. 

France, KL

KL wrote: Our dog Ruby was a little too hot, so we ended up doing lots of stops to cool down pottering in the streams and river. Ruby was a thirsty girl! She has dodgy hips so finds it very hard to go up and down that particular slope – hence the encouragement from my partner! Here is the video of Ruby

We went for a walk – a familiar route, straight from the front door, down to the river Le Noireau in the valley down a decline of 20%. Keeping to the required distance from home (1km in France) and only 1hr for exercise. The full loop is about 5km and usually takes us an hour. It was quite warm today.

Leith, Edinburgh, CM

CM wrote: On Saturday around 3pm I went for a walk with my granddaughter, aged 5, along the Water of Leith. We started at the Shore, she was on her scooter and I was armed with a long stick, at her request. We meandered along to a place we could feed the ducks and splash with said stick in the water. We played and sang along the way, and back. The simplicity of the walk was truly joyful. The sounds of the birds, the water, and our own chatter. The small things in life are often the most precious. 

Newcastle, England, ML

ML wrote: I cycled to Jesmond Dene, still early. The sound of the burn and birdsong. No idea what birds were – made mental note to learn. Of all the Buddhist teachings I’ve studied over the years, the most simple is the most profound; present moment, wonderful moment. A beagle sits refusing to budge not even when a spaniel pup offers him a game of chase.

Just back from a walk through Jesmond Dene then back home via the streets of suburban Newcastle upon Tyne. I forgot to do the 5 mins note taking but recorded 1 minute of sound.

Shenandoah National Park, USA, Nathalie Meyer
Daisies, England, JT

JT wrote: A blustery, wonderfully warm Spring day in my local park. Lovely to hear the wind in the trees 🌳 🌲 Berries are out … Berry Hill Primary School closed for the foreseeable future 😔 … so Schools out – possibly ‘Schools out for summer’ 🧒 👶 I’m sure there’s a song budding there 🎶 🎤 🏫… 💃 Her video on Facebook is here

Granton Beach, Edinburgh, LS

LS wrote: We set off from the house at about 1635. We headed down the hill to the sea making a new friend en route, and bumping into old ones. It was strange keeping a distance and not giving them a hug. (Sorry it would have been rude not to chat!). We chose a circular route; gentle walk down to the seafront and back up the steep steps to our road. It was interesting to see the groups of people on the beach keeping their distance and many more people walking along the quayside than normal. I wondered if all the groups were from the same household, or whether they had arranged to meet friends at the sea front. There were four people stripping off for a swim and I wondered if they were from the wild swimming club? I admired their bravery; the sea looked cold even though it has been a very mild day. I took a photograph of the quay from above because it made an interesting geometric shape into the sea. The terraced garden enchanted me because it is an achievement to create something so attractive from scratch on such a steep embankment. The colours of the car matched the Fisherman’s cottage and made me think of the limited palette used by the artist Whistler. Most of these Fishermans cottages have screens or net curtains at the window to prevent prying eyes. I was delighted by this display, carefully arranged, inviting people to pause and look in. A reminder of Spring and hope for all of us. The woman strode out into the surf, but it was the dog who had second thoughts. It’s usually the other way round! 

West Lothian, Scotland, TH

TH wrote: Yesterday I walked from my front door down to the River Almond along to the Union Canal where I followed the path towards Ratho, rejoined the road at Clifton cottage and walked back round to Lins Mill where I retraced the river walk to complete my loop on a cloudy, but bright day. So many birds around chirruping, calling or singing mellifluously – various tits, magpies, chiff chaffs, blackbirds, wood pigeons, pheasants, a robin, a thrush, a woodpecker tapping away….babbling brooks and the rush of river water contrasting with the silence and stillness of the canal.  I’ve never seen so many roe deer as close to home before – a cluster of four stood staring at me through the trees for a good while, before bolting away. So many hosts of golden daffodils in varied hues. A few folk about, everyone greets each other these days even if just with a smile – we’re all in this together. Her video is here on Facebook

Edinburgh, MS

MS wrote: Short walk around Duddingston Golf Course today, around 40 minutes, left approximately 12 noon.  Warm overcast day, took a few cuttings while I was out. His video is on Facebook here

London, MG

MG wrote:  17.07 to 17.57 on April 04, 3.6 kms through Bishops Park, Fulham, London, England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 I usually walk in the morning and around the bridges in the weekends (7kms), but that was before the lockdown…I thought it would be less busy at tea time as Hammersmith & Fulham reopened parks (and had dozens of volunteers help the park patrol avoid big gatherings). I enjoyed walking in the middle of the street as no one is taking their cars anymore. I sat on a bench facing the sunset, closed my eyes and enjoyed a little breeze and the warmth of the sun on my face, knees and shinbones… listening to a big variety of birds 🐦 🦅 🦢 wishing I could name them… my sense of smell is not impressed as I haven’t recorded any smell in my notes despite taking loads of pictures of blooming trees…plan for next time to try and smell more… As I listen to the birds there is suddenly an airplane ✈️ loosing speed above us, I remember the « nextdoor » chat the other day saying we « only » had 120 airplanes that day instead of the common 1200…we are on one of Heathrow landing paths! Walking back I pass a house with 2 families having an informal gathering (with respect to the two meters rule between the two groups), and I smile as our neighbours have had a few of these meetings today already… enjoy your weekend! ☯️💖 

Portobello, Edinburgh, Scotland, DO

DO wrote: I left my flat at 5.45pm and walked to Brighton Park in Portobello, Edinburgh. The street is quiet. I take a few photos along the way and a video of me running away from someone who is coughing loudly. At 5.50pm, all is quiet in the park except for the sound of buses on Brighton Place. Today feels like a layer of grief and sadness has been lifted. I was meditating earlier and I felt Earth’s heart. In the park, I felt Earth saying, “Thank you.” Joy and sadness. Joy at the sound of Spring: birds and a palpable sense of hope that we are entering a new phase of existence. Sadness at the irony of being enclosed indoors during a time of renewal. Feeling my feet on the ground. Grateful for this moment. And I love old trees, they have seen a lot. I miss Hampstead Heath. At 6.00pm, the church clock from the Catholic church chimed. It was very touching. Awaken, it seemed to say, we are being called to tune in to our inner being, a new tempo. 🙏 

Love in Hebrew, Israel, SG

SG wrote: My route began in midday as I stepped out of my home in Tel Aviv, Israel. I started in the front lawn of the building and continued onwards across the road, weaving through the neighbouring buildings. I listened and recorded the peaceful sounds of nature and the chirping birds overwhelming the atmosphere with their beauty. We are not allowed to venture out that much, only up to 100 meters. My walk was not very long, nonetheless it was meaningful. I took a few photos of what caught my attention: a bicycle ( a passion of mine), a tire filled with plants, a blank sign and a guitar (music and nature which I can’t live without)… The blank sign, I felt, was very much like a path of uncertainty and acceptance. I accept that life has a route for each one of us and we don’t hold the reins for the most part, so we might as well walk with acceptance 🙂 I discovered a tree stump and it automatically took me to a fovourite of mine,  Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” which has always been such a profound impact in my life. Most noticeably, I took a moment to breath in and observe my surroundings. A hedgehog accompanied me, which reminded me that this place called earth is not only my home. A photo of a sign in Hebrew that said love which always resonates within me.  I feel it is best to end with “And the tree was happy”. Thank you, be humble and be safe. 🙏 

Icefloes, Iceland, RV

RV wrote: Location: Eastern Fjords, Iceland. Town called Neskaupstadur. Walked 40 minutes, between 15:35, finished 16:15. Weather: south-western, strong winds, but sun. We had a metre of snow yesterday but today’s winds and 10 degrees has melted it all. Walked from the harbour, past the small boat harbour to the estuary where the glacial river enters the sea. Today there were icefloes in the harbour, the river has broken her icy shakkles at last. The black volcanic sand beach had heaps of snow and jagged ice, the river itself running dark grey and loud between the narrows. We walk here five or so times a week, it is never the same walk. Different boats in the harbour; trawlers, freight carriers of frozen fish, oil tankers, small boats. They have started the Lumpsucker roe season, dragging the nets weekly, but the weekend’s storm made the takings light. Migratory birds coming back. The black helmeted seagull, orange legged oyster catchers, eider ducks, black backed gulls. The Faroese say Spring comes when the oyster catchers return. The Icelanders welcome Spring with the Golden Plover. We heard the Oyster catchers “peep peep” and the “hum umm” of the eider ducks, the wind constantly in our ears. Not many cars, people walking, children, dogs, but everyone cautious, wary.

Grande Randonee / Camino de Santiago de Compostella, Montpellier, France, CD

CD wrote: A walk yesterday in my neighbourhood of Castelnau-le-Lez, very close to Montpellier, but very quick to be in nature. 🙏 It is also a stop on the Compostella road. I like to stroll through the streets looking in the gardens, all the different trees : laurel, olive, palm, lilac, roses, pin parasols (a type of oak), thyme, rosemary, iris, wild orchids. I walk to the top of a hill where I can see the sea – so close, but too far for now. It’s the feeling of containment that give that little, but very present, pressure of not being able to … this brings energy to a point that helps good transformation of what needs to transform in the moment. In fact, it’s a present, une “aubaine” as we say it in French (a boon in English). Then enjoying space lying down in the sun in the grass full of little herbs and flowers. So good. Her videos are on Facebook here about which she wrote: No words needed 😁🙏

Sunset, Pribyslav, Czech republic, VS

VS wrote: Lovely walk on fields. Keep coming back daily to watch a sunset.So beautiful yet diferent every day. Pics were captured 19:21-19:26, a shorg video at 19:24. Her video is here on Facebook

Here, now, is the full video of the sounds which were collected by the people above, for you to watch when / if you are stuck inside, or if you would like to hear what it sounds like in different parts of the world.

Featured photo of the hedgehog by Shera Geller.

Walk This Weekend

#walkgoesviral March 2020 (This event has now taken place)

A virus is a tiny particle and needs a host cell to be able to live and spread. If each of us takes a short walk this weekend; if we all listen and record the sounds around us and the feelings which go with them; within a 2 km / 1 mile radius; and if I host a platform for collating these – then we can co-create a record of our extraordinary times. For those who cannot leave the house or hospital, we will collect the sounds of the outside for them to hear indoors.

Share
  • You might take a circular walk or a there-and-back one. On foot, in a wheelchair or buggy. 
  • For children and adults, dogs and tortoises.
  • Aim to be silent throughout – don’t speak (although don’t be rude. If you do have to talk, make a note of why and when) 

You have 5 tasks to complete

You will need a basic smartphone – nothing fancy. If you don’t have a sound recorder or video option on your phone, simply listen and record on paper:

  1. Make a sound recording (or video with sound) of one minute duration somewhere along the route
  2. Stop at another spot and listen for 5 minutes – write down what you hear at the time (or you can record yourself speaking on your phone and write it down when you get home) – you can make a list or be creative 
  3. Take 1-5 photos at any stage of the route. Write down when and why you took them. (I do not recommend that you take a photo of yourself or your house, for privacy reasons) 
  4. When you get home, create an account of your walk in words, sound, drawing or other art form.
  5. Share what you have made (see below for sharing platforms)
Listen

Please note these things when you share:

  • Time: Start and end time, recorded sound at… Sat down, listened and wrote at… Took photos at… 
  • Location: My route began and ended at home / where I am staying or living now (give general location). I went this way …. (list route or places or make another sort of record of it)…  

Here is an example:

I walked between 5 and 5.30pm; recorded sound at minutes 7-8; sat, listened and wrote at minutes 24-28; took photos at minute 4 (because it was pretty),14 (because she reminded me of my mum), 24 (because that’s my favourite cafe) and 28 (because I was interested in the shadows); My route began and ended where I am staying now in Yalding, Kent, England. I went across the road, through Kinton Lane, around the field, through the gate at the far side…. … And ended back where I started (or I might draw a picture of my route or use my phone technology to digitally produce my route etc. You choose) 

Note down anything else you think is interesting eg if you take your donkey with you, please note this down as well. 

What is the point of doing this? 

  • To take a walk, focus on your environment and how it makes you feel 
  • To notice how the area has changed since we have been in ‘lockdown’ and again, if repeated, how these things change over time 
  • To know that when you will be walking with other people who are doing the same thing in different locations around the world, thereby creating a walking community at this time of separation 
  • For fun / exercise / to boost your immune system / be more grounded
  • To see what happens 
  • To create a record of this event for posterity 
  • You can probably think of more reasons – please tell each other 
Walk (2 m or 6 feet apart)

Social Media

Facebook group called Walk This Weekend

Twitter/Instagram #walkgoesviral

I will use my twitter for sharing info @walknodonkey 

Once you have shared, I will 

  • Collate the data and share in a blog
  • Record how many people walked and where
  • I will make a film with the photos, words and sounds (help appreciated as I am an amateur) 

Privacy

I will not reveal or use any personal information or data (if you do share your email with me for the purposes of sending recordings etc, I will keep it only for that purpose and delete after. It will never be shared with anyone else) 

The future

Hopefully, we can each repeat the same walk the following week so that changes in you, in nature, and in your environment during that time can be noted. 

Please share with others you think may be interested. This is a Walking Without a Donkey event. Please feel free to comment below.