The clocks go forward tonight, the days are getting longer and everyone should get out more!
I took this photo this time last year in Chorlton Water Park:
As someone who spends a lot of time working indoors in a gym, I absolutely love embracing daylight, getting out in nature and breathing fresh air into my lungs.
Living in Manchester is amazing, but is so important to get away from the buzz of the city, to notice both stillness and movement in nature.
Being outside in daylight can relieve anxiety, reduce depression, enhance memory, boost your immune system, treat skin conditions, strengthen bones and much more.
Tree-hugging: Yes, I’m not messing! Evidence shows that experiencing genuine connection with nature, specifically tree-hugging can be highly beneficial.
Let’s get cosmic. Attenborough has now been honoured with a blue whale constellation! This is brilliant!
Let’s get deep. In order to celebrate the change of season – and the fact that we can actually get outside and get active without being ice cold – I asked friends to share poems about the great outdoors, and stories of special memories in nature. I hope these words encourage you to think about your own happy memories in nature / outdoors / at this time of year, and inspire you to dust off your walking boots or running shoes, and get out more!
But first, I urge you to look around you, and think about where you can go and get close to nature.
If you like walking outdoors, why not try out the group exercise experience known as Walkfit?
Walkfit is all about mixing walking with fun and challenging activities, low impact team games and paired exercises.
In Manchester, you can do Walkfit in Bruntood Park:
Wednesday 19:00 – 20:00 / Friday 10:00 – 11:00 / Sunday 10:00 – 11:00
Or you could just go for a stroll in any of these wonderful parks and gardens in Manchester. Fletcher Moss is especially magical and enchanting, exemplified in this fantastic video, filmed and directed by Lee Baxter, featuring David Hoyle & The Co-Dependants… Let Go & Move On:
Hulme Community Garden Centre is just brilliant. GET DOWN TO THEIR BIRTHDAY PARTY – Saturday 31st March!
Fallowfield Secret Garden Community Project is also really beautiful and friendly. The entrance is a pathway situated between two houses on Wilbraham Road. Blink and you’ll miss it, but if you find it, you’re in for a real treat.
Here are some truly special words from friends and famous writers about being at one with nature:
Thank you Bindi:
‘The time I wept before a waterfall. I found its beauty pained me to the point I kept having to look away, and it was a simple waterfall not near as ‘majestic’ as many I had come across and yet there I was, situated in the foothills of Northern India near the banks of the Ganjes, crying before it and having to look away at junctures.
But added to this and important, as I am not sure it would have happened like this otherwise, were two things and the most important comes last. First was I had entered the cavity of it, into the cave, its womb if you prefer, with its ancient drip by drip stalagmites and stalactites. It was after when dressing in the open air and looking at the velvety moss covered outside with its twinkling drew drops and falling water that I broke open from the inside and wept (This a new way of seeing it as write to you about it now! So thank you!)
The most important factor I feel was the fact that I was a few days in of a 5 day personal vow of silence and I have come to know that it is in these time of shutting out the chatter chatter that life springs more vividly and easy into a place of awe and reverence. I am certain that had I not been in a silent inner place and more observant to all, this connection would probably not have occurred. This, as you may well imagine, was a pretty big turning point for me, thus it was the first to spring to mind. After such an experience how can you not seek or attempt to have many more such experiences of connection such as this! It was a portal into new experience of the world (and no hallucinogens!)
It was a wow moment and even writing this very sentence has made my eyes wet! Perhaps without intending to I have made my share! Thank you for suggesting and encouraging such a beautiful thing that we remember and revere the beauty of original nature, and I hope in so doing that we recall our inseparable connection to and of it ❤
Thank you Emily for introducing me to this Ted Hughes poem:
This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet
Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.
At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door. Once I looked up –
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope,
The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap;
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house
Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it. Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,
Or each other. We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the window tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.
Photo by Lucy Oldfield
Thank you Rebecca:
Taking time to be green spaces or close to water is essential for the mind, body and spirit.
Thank you Harri:
I am not a runner. I’m more like a sofa, energetically speaking. A sofa with lots of coins and lego bricks down the sides of it. Squashy and a bit worn.
It took a long time to become so comfortable. I started out OK, little bean bag full of beans, but I grew a lot of lumps and knobbles through my twenties, then spikes and wires and in my early 30s I lost my mind.
I was staying at Crisis Point in Levenshulme. It’s a mental health recovery short-stay place, a few days to re-solder your wiring and straighten your beams. For the first few days I mostly just cried and made minimal progress on a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
But one morning, I suddenly found myself running. I ran out of my room, I ran down the stairs, out of the door and down the road. I had no idea of a destination, but the sun was shining and the air was crisp and it felt good so I kept going.
A few turns, a couple of briges and I was on a tree lined lane, going uphill, and a voice in my head said quietly:
I stopped, and for the first time in months, I looked around me. Really looked, and listened. I could hear birdsong bright over the soft sussuration of traffic far away, and leaves pattering on the trees. I could see shoots and buds on branches, pine cones on a dry old pine.
Perhaps I can’t explain to you, if you’ve never been a broken umbrella or a dangerously- soldered toaster, if you’ve never been missing from your body, if your soul has never threatened to give up on you. But I think these experiences are more common than we like to acknowledge.
That first moment of peace and happiness was like waking up and realising everything I thought was life, had only been a nightmare. Like I hadn’t realised I was thirsty until I started to drink clean cold water. Like I’d suddenly flipped the right way up. Running again with my arms out like an aeroplane, laughing and jumping.
That was the start of a long journey, of softening and finally shedding those painful edges, of learning to get on with the world. I’m still not a runner, but I take walks all the time, up the fallowfield loop, past that old dry pine tree, to Birchfields park, to smell the trees and hear the stream, to thank nature for making me well, and to feel truly happy.
Photo by Pollyanna Crane
Thank you David:
More than once I wondered when and where I was most at home.
In the morning when the sun
Made me forget what I had done
And what it was I was to do
It seemed as though I never knew
In the evening when the moon
Made the past seem so soon
What had gone so long before
No more then would I ignore
Below this cosmic chandelier
What is there still for me to fear?
Over the fields where we walked
Of what was it there we talked?
Below those old old oaken beams
There I sank into my dreams
Sprawled on the sofa beneath your cat
Would once again I sleep like that.
Photo by Zak Hane
Thank you Jane for introducing me to these words of wisdom:
“We have learned we are like amphibians: we can live on land, but not forever, not without trips to the water and to home. Overly civilised and overly oppressive cultures try to keep women from returning home. Too often, she is warned away from water, until she is thin as a dime and dimmed in light.”
Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés