Something strange happened in 2019. I did not sign up for or complete NaNoWriMo. I started but didn’t complete Inktober. Being someone who enjoys these sorts of challenges and rarely doesn’t achieve a goal, it was a weird experience to just be chill about it. I don’t want to go back to the way I was feeling in the autumn of last year, but I do want to take something positive away from the experience. I want to hang on to that bit of chill about deadlines.
Instead of a New Year resolution, I have a vague idea of setting myself twelve monthly challenges. With the unique approach of not being overly critical if I don’t complete them.
January challenge – explore more.
I walk or run most days. It’s delightful to not only have garden birds feeding on my hand; I also have a few swans and a robin waiting for breakfast every morning on my walks. I must be a soft touch when it comes to local wildlife. I love it. But I also see this as a sign that I need to shake up the routes. This, in itself, will be a challenge.
My daughter and I have signed up to the ‘Race at your Pace’ 35 mile challenge. I’m aware that over thirty-one days, 35 miles isn’t a lot. I will still be completing my daily walks and talking Watson out. But I am hoping to use these miles to find new walks and maybe some hidden gems. My husband has given me wellie boots for my birthday, and some maps for Christmas and I’m hoping to use this as a way to kick start my blogging and maybe vlogging.
January 1st Stansted Park Estate
I woke up and couldn’t resist going to the sea, plus my terrier is getting older and prefers the shorter walks. So, the water birds still got their breakfast.
And then I parked at Stansted Park and explored a new bridleway. There are many footpaths and bridleways across the Stansted Park Estate and at some point, during January I would like to tackle the circular Monarch’s Way walking route. We were greeted by a chicken, and past sheep and horses and into the trees. I like to walk in the winter, not so many insects, the tracks are quieter, and you can see the animal footprints in the mud. Also, it was nice to see the bird nests and clusters of mistletoe. Unfortunately, the bridle path crossed two main roads which meant empty fruit shoot bottles and litter. Still, the weather was dry and pleasant, and the moss was bright green.
Best of all, New Year’s Day lunch was sandwiches in front of the fire when I got home.
2nd of January – Southsea Hitting the first brick wall
Woke up late. And bizarrely, slightly freaked out to receive an unexpected group chat call from friends while still in pjs. It’s made me realise that I never phone anyone anymore, I always text. We have realised that finding somewhere new to walk isn’t that easy, you google and see the haziest directions to the nearest parking spot.
So, me and eldest daughter decided to ‘just get in the car and go somewhere.’
Immediately, the oil light started flashing, which added to my anxiety, so we parked up on Southsea beach. I don’t go to Southsea often mainly because I’m not too confident when it comes to parking in Portsmouth. But today the roads were clear, the car parks empty.
Walking along the seaside front in winter always reminds me of Stephen King’s description of Maine when the tourists leave. The sky was grey, the shingle beach bright orange, you could hear the crash of the waves. Apart from a few dog walkers and mothers of young children, there was a deserted feel to the promenade. I am so glad we stumbled here. The breeze was just strong enough to blow the cobwebs away.
I had to phone my husband to bring oil, so we decided to do a short lap. A couple of circuits of canoe lake, South Pier and then onto the D day museum. Not precisely a ‘new’ walk, but a reminder of an underused resource. Plus, a lesson learnt, it’s best to decide where we are planning to walk the evening before…
5th January 2020 Emsworth – Westbourne – Emsworth.
I was tempted to wait for a better day, sky grey and drizzle that brings back memories of my mother saying it was the kind of rain that ‘really gets you wet!’ I’ve never been sure what kind of rain is dry.
One of my favourite circuits is Langstone to Emsworth. I think the Emsworth mill pond is so beautiful, but today after parking in South Street I turned my back on the water and headed to Westborne.
The link of the route I took can be found here:
I won’t lie, walking along streets lined with houses and school meant I was disappointed by the route. However, soon we passed St John the Baptist, an extremely pretty church complete with an avenue of yew trees. And then crossed the bridge over the Ems.
I was surprised when we found Lumley Mill. I think my northern roots gives me strong preconceptions about what a mill should look like! Lumley Mill is a large white painted building with magnificent windows, which absolutely did not look how I expected it too, and I was disappointed. The original mill was destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 20th century. But once we walked along the footpath we saw a few hidden treasures, a cascade of water, crystal clear streams and a loud chorus of bird song.
Although it is too early in the season, I kept my eyes peeled for signs of water vole activity while walking alongside the streams that flank Brook Meadow. I wasn’t surprised to see no signs of water vole life or hear the distinctive plop as they jump in the water, but I may try again in April and May.
I believe that Brook Meadow is full of wildflowers come spring and I’m looking forward to exploring again. Quite proud to just extend my walking routes a little.