Walking in green spaces

View from Radley College cricket pitch.

View from Radley College cricket pitch.

At the weekend, Rory and I went outside. Which is nice, and easy to do when the sun is shining and everything is green and glorious. Green is an amazing colour - it's my favourite colour to look at, although not to wear (red all the way for that). 

I think I remember reading, a long time ago, probably in a dubiously-sourced paragraph somewhere, that green seems like an inherently peaceful colour to humans because it's the backdrop for looking for danger. That's why dangerous animals and plants are often red or other colours. Red = Danger, Green = Safe. This could be complete rubbish, but I do find green landscapes incredibly relaxing...they feel right to me, somehow.

So it was lovely to be able to cycle down to Radley along the river and across some fields where everything is just humming with life. There's been a lot of rain and sunshine in Oxfordshire recently, and everything is growing like mad. And it's always nice to be reminded that just beyond the ring road it's all open fields and countryside and little villages and pubs.

View from The King's Arms, Sandford

View from The King's Arms, Sandford

And on Sunday, somewhat on a whim, we went for a walk along a road that inevitably didn't really go anywhere, and back around to the river, and eventually made it to Sandford, where we had a pint and a burger and then walked home. Pretty much the perfect Sunday afternoon excursion, in my view. We even saw little fluffy goslings! And it only rained a bit!

Fluffy goslings.

Fluffy goslings.

The walk was really nice, and I think about 6 miles in total, so by no means a massive slog, and was gloriously sunny by the end. I was reminded how much I like walking as a means of moving my body and giving myself the chance to think. I enjoy cycling, but it has a constantly changing rhythm, and requires a lot more alertness and different amounts of effort (freewheeling vs going up a massive hill). With walking, you can just sort of switch off a lot and enjoy the gentle exercise, and your surroundings or an audiobook or music or whatever. I feel similarly about swimming, except that it's more monotonous (outdoor swimming aside), and I can't listen to anything (yet). I used to walk to work (about 30 minutes) quite often, but now it would take over an hour which is a bit far and long to appeal.

For some reason, walking is also associated with grief and with recovery for me. I think because it's one of the gentlest forms of exercise that you can do, I've often used it to start moving again when I haven't for a while. When someone I knew died in 2014, I wrote this for her:

Step by step, for you, I walk off my grief.
Wading through memories, heart-high, pulling me
Back.
Travelling in circles,
Wearing lines in the carpet,
Tracing intricate curves,
Avoiding familiar pains.
A geometry of mourning;
My tribute to you.

http://happyvsright.tumblr.com/post/98994336466/rip-jackie-stedall-1950-2014

I found myself walking a lot to work through feelings of anger and sadness - I didn't have to think too much, but I was doing something that felt useful to me. I come back to it occasionally. I always feel like walking is somehow a healing thing to do (except the blisters and soreness the following day!).

Rory lost a friend to cancer recently. I didn't know her very well at all, and it's not my pain to write about, but to celebrate her, he and some other friends are 'running' (read, walking or jogging very slowly) a 5k in Regent's Park, London this Sunday dressed in pantomime costumes (including a pantomime horse). He's raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, so you could throw him a few quid his way if you wanted.