My pine-coloured wellies sunk with a dramatic squelch deep into the mud. They crunched their way through the thin frozen white icing that had layered itself over this trail of sodden soil overnight. They sunk deep down, inches and inches down into the waterlogged ground.
Every step was a joyous effort.
This narrow, winding trail of sludge was guarded on either side by an assembly of delicately drooping Bluebells. Their early rise from the garden bed was telling tales of an unusually mild winter and the loss of our British seasons that now seem to have formed a slow moving whirlwind of climatic nonchalance.
Their lavender hoods were coated in droplets of back-breaking burden from the skies, making their heads droop even further towards their toes. Tall blades of grass surrounded them, towering out of the morning mist that hovered above the ground.
The air was so cold and so crisp and so fresh that you could see your own breath. Nature’s ceiling was that confused colour of almost nothingness; a pearly grey haze that somehow shielded the sun from sight but let its rays beam down between the leafless lime trees that soared from soil to sky all around me.
I heard the faint crunch of every step breaking through the frost and the squishing, squelching, sticking sound of every waterlogged wade. The tree tops were eerily silent but I heard the occasional tap of a woodpecker, knocking on his neighbour’s wooden door.
I was in Marbury Country Park in Cheshire having a New Year’s walk with my family. And as we plodded through Mother Nature’s playground, I could see the twinkling lights of Christmas sulking off into the distance and felt the heavy weight of indulgence start to lift.
Goodness was flowing through my veins and my body felt exhilarated.
That day, I remember feeling the time machine in my mind transport me back to a few months earlier when I’d been standing barefoot in a silk floral dressing gown in my kitchen waiting for my cezve of bitter black coffee to bubble, holding a postcard that read…
NATURE IS THERAPY
Knowing my mind and knowing my body has been a huge focus over the last year and I’m noticing that when I don’t get my fixes, I quickly start to feel physically itchy with irritation.
The first dopamine hit I crave is writing. When my eyes ping open in the morning, a do not disturb sign flashes in bright lights across my forehead and all my fingers want to do is dance the Viennese Waltz on my keyboard with typed out formations of whatever’s in my brain.
The second hit I crave is moving amidst greenery. It makes me come alive.
Sunlight lifts our mood and gives us energy. Movement gets endolphins swimming around our body. Physiologically we relax – our nervous systems are soothed, our heart rates lowered and our blood pressure goes down. The fresh air fills our lungs, sending the essence of life to every molecule within us.
The reason I’m so obsessed with our evolutionary past is because Maya Angelou had it right; if you don’t know where you’ve come from you don’t know where you’re going. And the peaceful presence we find in nature today, dates back to our ancestral days wandering the grasslands of Africa.
When we surround ourselves with nature, we’re home.
IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE
After a week being chauffeured around the island on the back of a scooter and a few jungle runs, it was time to get my first real Koh Samui fix of greenery – and there’s got to be no better fix than a quad-crunching hike through the jungle.
It was a journey full of weird and wonderful pit-stops and doing so much talking our vocal chords ended up just as sore as our legs.
We began our pilgrimage in Lamai on the East coast of the island, fuelling up with a wholesome breakfast and a homemade matcha espresso fusion. It was early and the roads were flat but it didn’t take long before the beads of perspirational progress were dripping down our bodies.
The climb was steep and hard at times, especially in the thirty degrees heat, but the entertainment kept us going. In fact, the first thing we stumbled upon was an experience involving a cockerel called Mike that was so surreal that it deserves its own blog post.
Anyway, after a recovery pit-stop at Mr Sak’s and christening a lonely water buffalo Ethan, we moved on up past the sex-doll sky line (long story) and on towards a beautiful, shaded and secluded veranda that looked out over the coast.
We rested our legs and our lips for a while then continued our climb into the clouds, looking down on the dense jungle below and made it to the Grand Summit cafe just in time for lunch.
Tears streamed down our faces as we struggled for breath laughing at the fact I was accidentally almost knocking every important possession I own down into the leafy abyss below along with a napkin holder, two bottles of water and my half eaten- plate of salad.
Once our tears had dried and we’d had just about enough of the azure blue coast, we continued upwards towards our final stop – the Secret Buddha Garden.
We paid our 80 THB and walked down the stone steps into the forest, following the sounds of flowing water towards our Buddha Wonderland.
Hundreds of stone-carved statues of Buddha hidden amongst the bushes. It looked like something that had been there hundreds if not thousands of years, but it turns out it was just set up as a bit of a tourist trap by a clever farmer back in the seventies and we’d happily fallen straight into his snare.
Walking back down to earth, my time machine took me back to last year’s walk. I’d swapped a frosty forest for jokes in a jungle but it all had the same effect.
Sunlight is energy
Nature is therapy
Laughter is medicine