Travels in mind

Cheerful leggings, walking boots and mud

With our third Lockdown in full swing it's easy to start thinking about the places we can't go and slip into the slough of despond. Once again, I've found walking and the #walk1000miles challenge offers me a way out of this sad state of affairs.

We're currently confined much closer to home and my neighbourhood's muddy pathways* have turned my thoughts towards alternatives to get some rest from them. As a result I've revived one of my walking projects, namely to walk on every street in Chippenham aka 'street bashing'**. It's turned what could be seen as boring urban walks into regular treasure troves. It's surprising what discoveries can be made just by being forced to look more closely at the everyday familiar***. Streets with nature names like Primrose Way and Willowbank have proved an avenue of pleasure and it's been fun to try and match the real thing to the names on my travels.

This week, I'm walking in an area of town where the streets relate to locations, such as Avebury Road and Wells Close. As I walked down them, I was surprised to find vivid images of those places I'd visited sprang instantly to mind, some of them from quite some time ago. It struck me that whilst we might be physically unable to visit these places, we have a rich store of happy memories to call upon, so we can travel in our minds instead.

I had a similar experience when I read the Beekeeper of Aleppo for WI book club a couple of weeks ago. Much of the refugees' story is grim and harrowing, but the images of the Syrian desert I saw in my mind and the love the key characters had of their country have stayed with me. We may think of the desert as a harsh, uninviting place, but to them it was beautiful.

I'm currently planning my next street bash. Now where to go next... Devon (Close)..., or Anglesey (Mead)..., or perhaps I should try a spot of time travel to Tudor (Close)?

* = I'm sure they're muddier than usual not only because of the wet weather we've had lately, but also because we're stepping to one side to let others pass... and this in turn tramples the greenery into more mud. It's not a criticism - it cheers me when people are being more thoughtful - but a fact. I wonder what implications this has on our landscape - even urban ones - for the future? I see Countryfile mentioned it recently as an issue for farmers with public access rights on their land. For them there's an economic cost too.

** = this is proving harder to complete than I thought because on my travels I've found over 50 new ones not noted on the street directory I was using!

*** = last year's posts on my local wildflower discoveries are one example.

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