An uplifting winter’s walk, on a gloomy wet day

photo by Debbie Walker – Seaton Beach, Jan 2021

Getting out and breaking the gloomy mood

After another day of watching the rain from the cosier side of my window, and feeling that I have been stuck indoors for far longer than I probably have, I went for a rather pleasant walk this afternoon. I grabbed my moment as I noticed the heavy rain begin to slow, and decided that sometimes, we just have to risk getting wet; after all, I do have an umbrella. I needed to get out and break the gloomy mood that had descended upon me. One which coincidently matched the current view I had of the outside.

By the time I’d got my coat and scarf on, warm walking shoes and gloves, clipped the lead onto my reluctant dog and grabbed a towel for the car, it had actually changed again from a light drizzle to actually stopping. My cocker spaniel, Poppy, who is now 12 years old, recently seems to not want to go out; until we get to the door, and she just gets ever so excited. Once outside, I decided to take her on a different walk to our usual meander around the local estate (that sounds very posh, doesn’t it? – Bit misleading, I’m afraid, what I mean is our housing estate! Doesn’t quite paint the same picture does it?!) We jumped into the car – she gets really excited at this point for she knows it’s somewhere different that we’re off to. We’re very lucky that our town is on the coast, as well as so close to countryside. As today (and the whole past week) we’ve had so much rain, I opted for the less muddy option and went by the sea.

Our local council have spent recent years renovating our sea front and they’ve accomplished a lot. It looks so much better than even just a couple of years ago. We’ve got the pretty colourful wooden changing huts, that are reminiscent of times gone by, and yet have become quite modern features in many seaside resorts in recent years. They certainly do brighten up the otherwise grey-blue hues of the todays winter scene.

Photo from internet images

There are restaurants, bars and family arcades; currently all closed but still lending their colourful presence and a promise of future family fun-in-the-sun, to the scene. There is a clear open and wide pathway now too, alongside the beach. This is wide enough to keep social distances and several miles long taking you from the seaside resort all the way to our local marina approximately 5 miles away. There are car parks and there are new benches, some as memorial points, others simply as stopping points to enjoy the views of the sea along the way. All making it a popular walk for many people.

As we walked I gazed out at the sea; watching at first the spray spit and swirl as the waves buffeted loudly against the nearby rocks.

Photo taken by Debbie Walker

Photo by Debbie Walker

I lifted my gaze and took in the moody landscape, which reminded me of a beautiful water-colour painting. The sun lighting the industry in the distant horizon like a beacon to be admired; a stark contrast to the stunning force of nature before me.

in the mid-distance I observed two small dark figures

It occurred to me what a pretty sunset we may have had were it not so cloudy, nevertheless the sun was doing it’s best and still gave enchantment to that upon which it shone. The sea was rough. Waves rearing up and crashing down again, rolling and creating an ever changing canvas before my eyes. As I continued to look, I saw that where the sea may seem angry and foreboding in its current form, that is just one perception. For just in the mid distance I observed two small dark figures riding the waves. Up and down they went, one moment clearly in sight, next appearing much smaller then suddenly disappearing for a concerning moment. Surfers; enjoying their moment too. Seems that we can look at the same thing in more than one way – something that can appear to be a dangerous, foreboding and an uninviting entity, can also be someone else’s delightful, fun and exciting playground. I smiled as I watched the two surfers continue to ride the waves, fall or dive off their boards and then swim out to experience the next wave with equal determination and enjoyment.

I made my way along the promenade, my steaming cup of tea welcome as it warmed my now chilly hands. I’d called off to get my regular cup of tea at a vendor along the front. One of the few places still trading in these difficult times of Covid Lockdown’s. Being a take-out, at a place where we are using to exercise outdoors, it has been granted permission, whereas sitting indoors is something we are not allowed to do at the moment. We all look forward to the time we can once again gather in warm places. In fact, just to gather sounds quite a dream at this point. I remind myself that it will come, that we wont always be in the difficult situation that we currently find ourselves. That the vaccine will be rolled out across all communities and eventually, some sense of normal will resume. Until then, days and moments like this are our norm. Poppy and I continue our stroll.

Mixing of the generations.

Walking along the promenade, makes me think of times long ago; couples, families, children and senior citizens all sharing the same venue. Mixing of the generations. Yes, socially distanced of course, but still all in the same place, enjoying the same freedom of wind on our faces, sea fret in the air. The smell of salt and vinegar from a nearby Fish shop. A couple nod in my direction as my gaze lingers a little too long and they think that I’m someone they know. Then I notice that actually more people are looking at each other. Really looking. For a long while now, I’ve noticed that people avert their gaze so that they don’t have to interact. For so many years, society has increasingly withdrawn from the daily pleasantries that I recall being shared as a child, walking with my grandmother on a Sunday morning. Mobile phones distracting, headphones blocking out; each closing any chance of connection for the people directly in front of us. Today though, I see how people hold their heads up a little higher. How they catch my eye and give a hint of a nod. When I give a smile it is often returned. Many people smile or laugh at my dog Poppy as she barks and wags her tail to let them know she’s enjoying her walk. Some even use her as ‘an excuse’ to speak. I see people I’ve not seen in years and we are able to swap a few words of hello and to briefly check on each others wellbeing. No one stops for long as we all know the danger and the potential rate of transmissibility of this virus that has taken over our lives this past year. However, those small moments of connection, nods, smiles and greetings, all go a very long way to alleviating the difficult drudge and often loneliness of the lockdown.

I get home and feel mentally energised and physically tired. I’m ready to settle down in my home again, motivated to create a mouthwatering and hearty meal for the family which will be enjoyed and appreciated far more due to the physical exercise and the mental stimulation that little walk created today.

Wear your smile

So, anybody out there who’s feeling a bit low, or needs to feel a bit more energised and motivated – then please do take a little walk. Give yourself that, if you are able. It may seem too much of a chore, too wet or too cold. Get wrapped up, take an umbrella, wear your smile and go enjoy … The media (too often in my opinion) presents us with the negatives of humanity; the cruelty and unkindness as seen through news feeds and articles. However, we are so much more than that. People and connecting with each other can be uplifting, fun and interesting … and just what we need!

Nature too, can be a force to be reckoned with, yet the joy it lends is ours to enjoy.

(c) Debbie Walker

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