No matter what life throws at us, as long as I get to walk in woodland periodically, I can usually cope with whatever I have to. The last month or so has been a little demanding with two minor operations and trying to recover whilst still working and ensuring that no customers are let down or inconvenienced - along with a multitude of minor domestic irritations like a broken shower and computer and guttering coming down in bad weather.
Please click on any of the photos for a larger view.
Our walk today was around Beacon Fell, a county council run country park, north of Preston in Lancashire. We've been visiting there for something like 40 years and they've recently reworked some of the woodland sculptures - this fellow is magnificent and stands around the same height as me and something like 40 feet long.
One of the perils of being self-employed is not ever really being able to take proper time off. You have to work like the clappers in advance to cover as many eventualities as you can if other people are going to cover for you. Any down time leaves you itching to get on with something and feeling guilty when you don't and then putting in extra time after any break to clear the accumulated backlog. So something innocuous can end up feeling like a military campaign.
They were just installing this new natural sculpture when we were last there two weeks ago, but we were delighted to see it finished today - you just happen upon it in a clearing as you round a corner in the path.
When we got up this morning, the sky was clear blue and the sun was shining. There was a bite to the air, but it was a perfect day to get out and stretch our legs, so soup was warmed, flasks filled, scarves and gloves packed and off we set. Even though we had lots to do, we felt that a dose of perspective-realignment, fresh air and getting the blood circulating, were rather more important today.
I was a little off my game still, so the walk was a relatively modest one, but the trees did it again. I just love being in woodland - I just cannot conceive of living without being surrounded by trees. By the time we had travelled 20 miles from home and had set off walking, the weather had deteriorated somewhat and the sun was only evident occasionally, but even in cooling damp air, the smells of the woodland and the feel of leaf litter underfoot was a great joy to me.
It really pleases me that even in the current economic climate, the county council still do things like this, I really do hope that art of this nature won't be a future victim of the economy. Their worth isn't something that can be calculated on a spreadsheet.
I love to hear birds amongst the trees and to be greeted by the occasional stick-carrying dog and to exchange a few words with fellow walkers and to me, there probably isn't a restaurant on the planet where I'd enjoy my food any more than eating hot soup and fresh bread in the outdoors after a brisk walk. And there aren't many restaurants where you can eat still in your muddy boots and survey the scenery - although my husband did declare today that it's a tad disconcerting to eat whilst wearing a hat.