an image of a tree photographed by a still canal so that the tree's reflection is clearly visible

Reasons to be or not to be cheerful, or not. Or something.

I was going to write about what ‘local’ means to you, that is, ask you for your definition of the word, since one week into a UK national lockdown, there are news reports about a police force fining people for driving somewhere to exercise.  During the first lockdown, in the spring, there were reports of police forces using drones to film and shame people who were hill walking, who’d driven to a remote and beautiful spot to enjoy some fresh air.  I remember feeling very low when I heard that it might be deemed unlawful to drive a short distance to access open space in order to exercise.  I was going to make the whole blog about that, the definition of ‘local’ and whether it’s a good idea or fair to ask people to only exercise around the place they live, and nowhere else.  But I’ve paused while doing this because would that make me or your cheerful?

I loved Helena Nelson’s blog last week about The Good Side of the Covid Year – not because it’s a dreadful, falsely jolly mantra about counting blessings or being grateful (although I am not adversely against those activities) – it is none of those things – but because it made me laugh and I read it aloud to Andrew, my husband, especially the bit about wearing a face covering

Masks are a pain, but they help prevent chapped lips. Most useful. Also going through the freezing cold vegetable aisle in Aldi is much warmer when wearing a mask.

But, at the same time, I’m not in the mood to write a post listing what I’m grateful for, happier about.  Sorry.  It’s like Anthony Wilson says in his post this week Reasons to be Cheerful

Ok, so it was a terrible week.

But in other news, not such a bad one.

Exactly this.

What an up and down week I’ve had, I’m talking rollercoaster levels.  Terrible news, terrible weather, low energy, low light.  Then, from somewhere, a blast of a good joke, eating something delicious, a dazzling shot of sunshine, something captivating on telly (iPlayer),  poems that speak to me, music that brought me to my feet to dance (after a fashion), making headway with a project, making plans about another project – and then, back to feeling a bit despondent (actually, very despondent).

You’re often like this in January, says Andrew.

Yesterday, we drove five minutes to the Avon and Kennet canal (or is it the Kennet and Avon canal?  I’m never sure) and walked for about an hour, thinking, chatting, stretching our legs, being outdoors, smiling at and being smiled at (mostly) by a few other walkers.  It cheered me up.  Don’t criminalise people for doing this please, anyone.

an image of the Avon and Kennet canal on an overcast day in January 2021
Avon and Kennet or Kennet and Avon canal

Have a good week whatever you’re up to.


18 thoughts on “Reasons to be or not to be cheerful, or not. Or something.”

  1. As we don’t have a car the only way to get to place that aren’t immediately local is to use public transport. I won’t do that. So local for me is very local. I’ve walked those places so many times last year, that when lockdown ended it was good to get into London and find the hidden places I so love. One good thing is that I discovered a small wetlands area I had no idea was there. It adjoins an estate. I can’t avoid busy roads to get to anywhere green where I live. Local parks are my first point of call. Other green spaces are at least a mile away, so I’ve walked a lot of miles! I’ve used this time to see how the seasons have changed the trees and plants. I love taking photos and took tons last year. Being outside and walking keeps me sane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t drive anymore because of a dodgy knee – can’t walk too far and I find it easier to walk on soil/grass/mud rather than pavement. It is a tricky one! We live in a small town surrounded by roads and traffic so it is a relief to find nature. Glad you’re able to get out!


  2. We are all in this place.
    I have a treadmill for exercise. But the restlessness of being indoors/restricted to our garden builds every so often.
    Funny thing is, in a way, I was so eager for exercise using the treadmill the last two times, pulled muscles! Now, I ask you.
    Finding a project helps, as you say; it soaks up a lot of attention, so you do not notice as much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In David Caddy’s ‘Dissident Voices’, he says of William Barnes’s poetry that ‘Barnes believed in the local as the starting point of the self’, which is a fine belief, I think. Have a lovely walk, Josephine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s the Kennet and Avon. I’m lucky, being within walking distance of the Staffs & Worcs Canal. And I’m angry when police and politicians show a complete lack of understanding and common sense. Thank you for your honest and generous posts x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it is! I think I’ve felt this before but I always seem to forget. I enjoy the sense of new beginnings and the feeling of being at the start of something – anything could happen! – but this is combined with feelings of gloom, this year more than ever. It is your birthday month, Suzannah, I remember that! Happy Birthday when it comes. x


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