The other day I was walking in the woods near my home when it struck me. I was guilty of the very thing I was cross with my Dad for. Don’t you just hate that?!

You see, my family own a holiday home in a very special part of the world. The scenery is stunning, the food is fabulous, and the wine flows. Walking in the woods can take me from frazzled and disconnected to relaxed, refreshed, re-energised, and grounded, all in the space of one walk. All in all, it’s an idyll.

We were up there a few weeks ago and I really needed the holiday.  I felt tired, on edge, and generally frazzled. I couldn’t wait to take a walk in the woods, and after a couple of days of walking up a hill in among the trees I was feeling so much better. A few days into the holiday, my Dad called to ask ‘How are the trees?’. This took me by surprise because his questions normally concern something in or around the holiday home, and we don’t have any trees! It took me a few minutes to realise that he meant the trees in general, and a few more to figure out that this all pertained to his main hobby, photography, and the trees changing colour for autumn.

From that moment on I was on ‘tree watch’, and I felt a bit guilty about hogging the holiday home for what turned out to be the pivotal point between the trees changing colour and a storm coming along to blow all the leaves off the trees.

When I got home, I asked him about the photographs he’d taken of the trees at home. He lives in a nice part of town and there are a few places to go that are almost countryside. Turns out he hadn’t been to any of them! Which made me cross for feeling guilty.

I managed to stay cross until the very next day, when I took Kimber for that fateful walk in our local woods. And realised that I was guilty of the very same thing. I only have to walk three minutes out of my front door before I’m on a dirt track that runs alongside a stream and is lined with trees. And if I walk for fifteen minutes along that path, I get to a country estate with fields, and woods, and another stream.  What’s more, I go there about four times a week! So why do I need to drive for almost two hours before I let myself go for a walk that makes me feel refreshed and re-energised?  When all I need is on my doorstep? Maybe we all close our eyes to what’s familiar? Or get in the habit of taking what we have for granted? I think I take my usual running head-commentary on my walks with Kimber, so maybe for some of it, or for some walks, I need to leave that at home, and focus on the here and now, and the benefits of my surroundings. And then maybe I can have the benefit of country walks all the time!