I find the term ‘outdoors’ intimidating; conjuring images of vast expanses of space – the prairies, deserts or mountains – all of which I imagine being invariably lost in, PA-less and with my power-chair battery going flat. A nice, quiet, walled-garden with the scent of flowers and butterflies fluttering in the warm breeze, oh, and a little fish pond. That’s my kind of `outdoors’.
I’ve struggled with the outdoors lately. In winter, my all weathers poncho and I – lovely though it is, with pink & orange flowers – became slightly too well acquainted. It’s taken a lot of effort to get out and about. The indoors of my cosy flat has definitely won out over the outside. With summer finally around the corner however, that will change. For me, it’s finding an ‘outdoors’ that I feel OK with. I’m not so old that I grew up with the childrens’ classic, “Swallows and Amazons” but I do remember it being on telly, along with “The Famous Five” and not being very inspired. The kids seemed to leap about a lot, being all healthy and robust. Not much for me to relate to.
There was however, an outdoors I very much loved and still do: not a garden at all, with a pond that was far from little, in fact the Sea and its side – the North Sea in particular, by the town of Cromer. As a family, this is where we spent two weeks every summer and I loved it. Endless discussions on how to avoid the “Tail back at Buldock” and stopping off for a picnic en-route, I loved the pier, the arcades, the same self-catering chalet called Ocean Breezes we stayed in annually and getting to know all the other families that holidayed there too. I paddled my toes in the sea being held up by my Dad and waltzed (sort of) with him, at the Wednesday night dance. I even lay on a blanket there, on the beach despite all the lumps and bumps and my fear of creepy-crawlies.
In adulthood the North Sea was swapped for the coast of Tenerife and even a beautiful calm lagoon in Miami. The waters were so warm and calm that I was able to fully swim. Usually I have to make do with the local indoor teaching pool, which is fine but I guess what I’m trying to say is that even for an unadventurous hobbit such as myself, a little outdoors can be a very fine thing. When it’s a friendly outdoors that offers something other than just being outside.
Especially when there’s the chance of a picnic along the way.