Last Saturday I went for a walk that I thought was going to be a bit of a disappointment. We’d originally decided to go to a forest about an hour away, but eventually ended up going somewhere much closer to home after totally misjudging timings and pesky early sunsets. I was gutted but decided that as long as I was outside it was ok, because it was a perfect autumnal day featuring all the classics: sunshine, blue skies and air chilly enough to make your nose a little bit scrunchy. What I’d really been craving, though, was to be in a forest, surrounded by trees and looking up at possibly my favourite scene – branches reaching out to the sky (I have sooooo many pictures of this and I love them all). I love feeling enveloped by a wood or forest, knowing that above me is a beautiful canopy that will stretch on and on as far as the eye can see. For example this, from the weekend before:
It makes me feel really safe, like I’m being swaddled by nature. Plus, there are deer and squirrels and hedgehogs and badgers and fungi and birds and bugs and all manner of amazing creatures which just make it even better, if you’re lucky enough to spot them. I’d been on a walk the weekend before to the local wood that I often go tramping around in (see above) and had wanted to go a bit further afield, to somewhere bigger and less familiar, with more colours and trees and, well, just more.
Despite my original reservations, it ended up being one of the best walks of my life. We started off, and it was pretty, but it’s always pretty because it’s a national park. After a short while we stumbled across a group of ponies – there were probably about 15 – 20 of them all together. This stopped us in our tracks because it was a surprise, and a very pleasant one too. While we had company we decided to sit down and have some lunch – fig and walnut bread with Sussex Black Bomber cheese and homemade courgette chutney, all from the farmer’s market that morning – but of course some of our newfound friends wanted in on that too, so there was a bit of OMG this pony is ABOUT TO EAT MY FAAAAACE. But it was all fine and ended up being hilarious rather than terrifying. Off on our way again, we saw a dead sheep, maybe a lamb, because it looked small. That made me sad because sheep are my favourites, but it was also cool in that gory carcass kind of way. (I was sort of hoping it would be old so I could take the skull but it was relatively recent and there was still the smell of death.) We later saw another one like it and I got angry because although it happens in nature, there are also some really rubbish and irresponsible people who don’t look after their dogs properly and that’s not nature, that’s just negligence.
We passed some derelict barns, so eerie because there was nobody around and we’d only seen about six people on the walk from the very beginning. It felt like a video game, like zombies might jump out at us at any moment. We carried on walking higher and higher, until we were almost at the top of the last hill. I saw this THING peeking above the hill behind me and didn’t know what it was, and then it twigged – (almost) full moon, rising. It was so beautiful and mesmerising, just like a sunrise but pale and so bright…and it was so big. It was honestly one of the most memorable moments of my life. I love the moon and frequently stop and marvel at its beauty but I don’t remember ever actually seeing moonrise from the beginning, so it was a very special moment. I kept having to turn my head back and forth like I was at Wimbledon, because over the other side of the sky was one of the most vibrant sunsets I had ever seen; so incredibly orange and pink, transitioning into pinks and purples, then purple and navy and finally black. And then we encountered more sheep, alive this time, who were a joy to see. I did my usual thing of talking to them like they are old friends, which I am sure they appreciated. Of course. On the way back home we walked overlooking the sea, and could see the lights of the city to the right, and the lights of the pier, and it was dark and it felt so nice to be seeing it from above, from somewhere quiet, rather than being right in it. Then, suddenly, fireworks started going off in the distance. Sporadic explosions of glitter in the sky, the perfect shimmery ending to such a lovely day. It made me connect with the world again in a way that I had forgotten was possible. I felt so alive with love and hope and joy and absolute awe at what had just unfolded before my eyes. I felt lucky, and so peaceful. It served as a reminder that it doesn’t matter where you are, there is always beauty somewhere. I was so close to home and yet it felt like I’d inhabited a completely different world for that short time, somewhere magical and away from all the bad things in my life at the moment. It also reminded me that you just need to go with things sometimes and be in the moment, that everything happens for a reason. I used to hate that saying because I took it to mean that things are willed by a higher power, or that we all have a certain fate that is laid out for us, and I’m an atheist so… In my eyes things just happen – a lot of the world is out of our control but we have control in the way we choose to deal with things and what we take from experiences. We can decide whether to ascribe reasons to that, I guess, and I do. I’d spent a short while thinking about how rubbish it was that I wouldn’t get to go to the forest, but if I had gone, none of the things I’d experienced would have happened. Maybe it would have been better, but I don’t know that, and I had an absolutely amazing time anyway. I look back sometimes on my life and think about certain times, even really hard ones, and they all serve a purpose. Some of them I don’t like and I wish had never happened but they still made me the person I am now. If I had broken up with my ex sooner rather than later and not wasted so much time with him, I would never have moved into the house share that ended up bringing me my group of friends. That in itself means that I wouldn’t have met one of my best friends, which just seems so weird, because we’re so close and she’s like a sister to me. Things like that, things that you can regret, can also bring you wonderful things. Not everything, but everything seems to serve a purpose one way or another when I look at it and that reassures me because whenever I have a crappy time now (like, NOW, almost all the bloody time) I can think – there is a reason for this. Or at least that something good, however small, will come of it. That doesn’t mean that I think things went ‘wrong’ early in the day so that I experienced what I did, though. It’s just about reflection and getting something from everything you do, I think. Although I do feel brain dead at the moment, so I am also likely to be talking shite and not explaining myself very well at all.
I took a few pictures during the walk- they can’t do it justice at all but they will serve as a reminder to what was a much-cherished day. Plus, you know. Sheep.