Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!


21st June 2008

It’s amazing how some months fly by you and others go slower than you would like. I have come to like the passing of the winter solstice because it heralds what I think to be the best part of the year for wandering through the countryside. Yes, the trees may be as bare as the landscape that surrounds them for what seems like aeons but that has its attractions too. The summertime hoards are but a brief memory and there are ample opportunities for life detoxification in those wide open spaces. Those months before the greenery makes its appointed appearance allow you clear your mental clutter in time for when the countryside is clothed in a most wonderful lusciousness. For me, May and June should be the holiday months rather than July and August. The current arrangement means that year is slightly past its best when most have time to savour it but it also might mean that places are less crowded for connoisseurs of such wonders.

That curious timing of the summer holiday season brings me to my thoughts on the summer solstice. If its winter counterpart is a reminder of all that is wondrous, the longest day of the year is all the poorer for its pointing out that the only way from here is down. True, the colours of the countryside in autumn can be staggeringly beautiful but the whole feeling of decline and the passing of yet another year means that you need to work harder to keep up that interest in hill wandering. Apart from those colours, that decline has its uses, though, and you need only need to encounter an overgrown public footpath (I have been on a good few in north Wales…) to realise the benefits of winter’s chill. Anyway, without all the dying off that happens in the second half of the year, all the growth of the first would never seem so wonderful. Speaking of spring, the longest day of the year is also an impertinent reminder of what you have and haven’t been doing with regard to appreciating nature over the previous months. If you have been too busy to enjoy spring, then it’s a rearguard campaign to savour the countryside at next to its best before it’s too late and you feel that another year is gone out of your life without your making the best of it. Yes, those enticing months can often seem too short and the idea of taking more time away from the daily grind becomes a most tempting prospect.


  • John says:

    Mike Baker’s recent article for the BBC explains the reason for the odd timing of the summer school holidays very clearly: the need for labour for the harvest season. Of course, that’s now obsolete with a less agrarian society and, even then, modern agricultural technology has removed that need for labour anyway. In other words, what made sense one time makes hardly any several centuries later.

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