Friday, 17 June 2016
Walking Cuddy's Corse - Chester-le-Street to Finchale, 9th June 2016
It was being a good day.
As a Klingon would never say, "Today is a good day to live." But it was a good day to live. All days are. But this one was being a better day than expected. I could have stayed at home and done very little. It would have been so easy. Going out is always a stressful choice for me.
But I am determined and just lately my determination has grown because I've been visiting places worth visiting but also because of the example a friend has been to me in living her life as fully as she can even though it is so very difficult for her and she has to fight for that life every single day. I admire that friend so much and her example and her encouragement too have meant a great deal to me. I want to live in the manner in which she lives.
This walk had so many good things. At the end of the last post I left Chester-le-Street behind having been impressed by the work that's gone into making the riverside park so good and having enjoyed the work of the Prince's Trust into making a very drab underpass into something to be enjoyed.
At the end of this walk I returned home and said, "I will walk that route again sometime." I must admit though that this is nothing special. I've returned home and said that a lot in the last couple of months, whether I've been walking in Plessey Woods, along the Wansbeck valley, walking from Stakeford to Newbiggin, from the Tyne to the Wear, in Chopwell Woods, round reservoirs in the Pendle area, or walking in a circle from Dinnington.
Wherever I've walked there have been surprises. There has been beauty. And there have been things I have been able to get excited about. And being able to get out and see these things has been teaching me something about myself too and about how I want to be living my life. It's been showing me something about my priorities and my passions - and not just related to making an effort to be somewhere attractive.
Having a bus pass means I can get to these places for nothing. Without the pass I just wouldn't be able to be living as I have been recently. The psychological awareness that I can get out, and the action of actually getting out - even when it's been hard to just contemplate the act of leaving the house - has been massively beneficial to my mental health. Although I find my current medication helpful, the bus pass is possibly more beneficial than any medication could be for my head. Just knowing there are places I can get to easily that are quiet and beautiful is a new light in my head.
The screen saver on my laptop is of every photograph that I have taken in the last year, together with those photos sent to me via WhatsApp. Every time the photos appear I smile inside, for each one is a memory of something good. There are currently 4000 photos in the folder the screen saver picks from. That's 4000 memories. 4000 possible smiles. From a year in which I have been struggling greatly but in which I have been learning to live more than I have lived at any point in my life. A year of quite rubbish mental health at times. But a year that has had some amazingly good surprises.
Yes, today is a good day to live. Every day is a good day to live, to really live.
Okay, that was a lot more text than expected. Time to get on with sharing some of the photos from the day.
This is a tree. A pretty dead tree. Regular readers of this blog will know that I love trees. I love the shapes. And I love the panorama function on my phone too.
Behind the lower branches - although they won't show up here - are the floodlights from the Durham County Cricket Ground.
And ... another tree. I really must get myself a book trees and learn to identify them. I am completely rubbish at identifying plants and animals and this has been a sadness to me when I'm out. I see a plant and think, "That's a pretty plant," but have no idea what it is. I see a bird and say hello to it but too often don't know what kind of bird it is.
That's something I want to remedy and I want to learn how to read the land too and better understand the places I'm walking through. I quite regret not having grown up being taught such things when out walking on holidays with my parents. We walked on them quite a bit because that was one of the activities we could afford due to it costing nothing except for the cost of getting the car to wherever it was we went. And we went many places - as I child I visited every county of England and Wales at least once.
This signpost marks roughly the half way point of Cuddy's Corse. At this point the walk had been following a quiet road and it turned onto a much busier minor road. I was eager to not be walking along busy roads and was wondering how much of it there would be because it wasn't the most pleasant road to follow.
Fortunately the route doesn't follow that road for long. Within 200 metres it turns off and descends lots of steepish steps through a wood and returns to the River Wear. It felt so good to be away from the road again and because of the drop it wasn't long before I couldn't hear the cars. And it felt amazing to see the river again through the trees and to be able to hear it. This was much better than road walking.
And then, at the bottom of the steps, I walked out of the wood to the riverside and saw this. The river. And across the river the ruins of a large abbey. I'm sure local people know about it. But to me it was a complete surprise. And I did audibly gasp in wonder at the surprise.
I'd gone from worrying about avoiding traffic to excitement and amazement in the space of five minutes.
Life was good. That day was a very good day to live. A very good day indeed.