Written prior to the start of the January 2021 national lockdown
During the spring lockdown of 2020 many of us initially found ourselves inside far more than we liked. With outdoor exercise limited by both time and destination, we did something impressive. We adapted.
As 2020 and its accompanying pandemic groaned on through a level of sunshine suitable for only the most odd of summers, we adapted again. Camper vans replaced hotels, Scotland replaced Spain, and our local parks became our favourite go-to locations.
Call me a cynic but I thought our commitment to adaptation might dissipate as autumn faded into winter. I appear to have been wrong. Over the Christmas period I indulged in a bit of observation. The results are in. We are still adapting, and we are still outside. Allow me to present my (unashamedly anecdotal) evidence.
- It can be a delightful experience to enjoy a chat with a friend, in full waterproofs, in the pouring rain, on wet chairs in a back garden
- A Boxing Day visit can be conducted happily and entirely around a smoking fire, underneath a dripping tarp
- The increased numbers of sea swimmers observed in July are still capable (albeit with a touch more swearing) of demonstrating their commitment to the cold water cause in January
- Watching an elderly couple enjoying a bottle of champagne in a local park will probably always put a smile on my face
- Teenagers, contrary to popular belief, are more than capable of inventing fun and active games in the sunshine
- Hammocking on New Year’s Eve in your local urban copse can be just as entertaining as doing the same thing on a distant wild moor
- The same dads and daughters who enjoyed precious beach time together last spring can still do so well into the winter
- A low winter sun, and chill breeze can lift the spirits of friends enjoying coffee and chat on damp benches in a park opposite the beach
- It is definitely possible to safely enjoy a winter wild camp with a friend as long as you swap your tent for bivvy bags, and sleep a couple of metres apart
There is plenty to hope for in 2021. Vaccines, time with distant family, job security. But I have secondary hope; that we build on our newfound (or perhaps re-found) adaptability, and continue to renew our nation’s love of being outside.
What better way to look after our environments than to rediscover how much we love them?