It was early. The sun hadn’t yet broken through the hazy clouds. The grass was still damp from the overnight dew. The birds were in full chorus welcoming in the new day. And that is when we spotted them. Two little deer, just ahead of us in the field. Their ears pricked up and their eyes focused on us. We stared at each other for a few moments, before they leapt away through the meadow. Magical. Despite living in a rural village surrounded by farmland, and inhabited by Bambi and family… it was the first time I had ever seen them on a walk. Ever. It was a wonderful end to my first scooter ride since shielding began. Yes, after weeks and weeks stuck inside, a fortnight ago, I sneaked off for a well-needed illicit adventure. 😛
I bought my brilliant off-road scooter just as the coronavirus began its rampage through England. Aware that Phil and I would probably need to extract ourselves from society for a while, we wanted a means to still get outside without seeing anyone. The scooter would allow me to access the local countryside around my rural village. So I’d be able to safely walk Lottie, have adventures, and get my nature fix. But when the government announced that the ‘extremely vulnerable’ would need to ‘Shield’ in their homes, our scoots stopped. Although I knew that my scooter rides were not putting me at risk of catching the virus as I saw no-one, touched nothing and was outside… I was scared. The constant talk of death and dying and death and dying and underlying conditions… freaked me out. So for two and a half months, I happily didn’t leave my home. I didn’t put a toe on the pavement, didn’t open the back gate, didn’t once leave my garden.
But recently it has become clear that for the ‘Shielders’ this lockdown is going to go on for longer. A lot longer. We’re likely going to need to stay away from society until either the virus is eradicated, a vaccine is produced, or an effective cure is discovered. Phil and I are mentally preparing to be shut away for the next twelve months. So we’ve been thinking of how we can make this all work long term. Our current never-see-further-than-the-fence lifestyle is not sustainable for me. For my long term mental health, I need to occasionally be in nature. I need to occasionally see the horizon and walk through long grass and stand by a tall tree. I need to have the odd illicit -but safe- adventure. And after two and a half months of missing all this, my need for the countryside is now greater than my fear of leaving our home. 🙂
So a fortnight ago, Phil and I set off from our front door at 6:30am on a Sunday morning. We scootered for 3.5 miles around local fields I’d never explored before. Around countryside I’d been unable to access since getting ill. After nearly ten weeks of confinement, Spring had replaced Winter, and the landscape was now lush and green. Beautiful. Cowslips carpeted the ground, giant chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms stood regal, and elderflower decorated the hedgerows. We spotted running hares, a hovering kestrel and two magical deer. The sounds of birds chirping, the feel of wind in my face, the smell of manure. It was wonderful to be out. My heart sang. Like an overwhelmed tourist, I kept stopping to admire and photograph and point out the seasonal changes. Only when I was in my happy place, did I realise how much I’d missed it. We were home for celebratory bacon butties before most folks were out of bed. 🙂
Since that first wonderful scooter ride, a fortnight ago, Phil and I have been on three other fabulous adventures around our local fields. Those trips have boosted me, lifted me, been the absolute highlight of my week. Yet I have shared these wonderful experiences with very few. And I have put off writing this blog, for fear of judgement. I know some might disapprove of me venturing outside, as is officially against government advice (not rules 😉 ). But I thought about it all a lot beforehand. The shielding guidelines are a blanket recommendation regardless of location. Instead of different advice depending upon where people live, and the locality and number of their neighbours… instead of asking people to think about their own situation and act accordingly… it is easier and safer to have one set of guidance for everyone to follow. A one size fits all. I researched the science, I thought about the odds, and I was happy that I would probably be very safe as I was outside, wouldn’t see anyone, and wouldn’t touch anything. I weighed up the risks for me based upon my location and my needs. An occasional early morning walk versus the mental struggle of staying inside permanently. The deer won. And I am happy happy happy with my decision. 🙂
Once again I am beyond thankful. Thankful that I am well. Thankful that I live somewhere where I can reach my happy place without seeing anyone. Thankful that I have a scooter to take me to the back of beyond. Lottie and I can’t wait for our next adventure. 🙂