Sunday, 29 September 2013

Far from the maddening crowd

In an attempt to ward off boredom, disillusionment and terminal snack-induced fatness, we've taken to spending a portion of our Saturdays getting out into the big wide world and actually doing something. Walking has always been something we both enjoy, so a concerted effort has been made to ensure that a regular long walk out somewhere is undertaken in the hope that amongst other things, being out in the middle of nowhere will be the perfect stress reliever - especially if there happens to be a pub somewhere along the route.
Any length of time spent in a crowded city is hell on earth for me, but stick me in the middle of the countryside with an Ordnance Survey map and I'm in my element, with all the worries and frustrations of everyday life being blown away on the breeze along with assorted seeds and the occasional whiff of cow shit.
Yesterday's little expedition saw us doing a pleasant five mile circuit from Over to Swavesey and back, following various public footpaths that took us by the river near Overcote, through fields, along tracks, past the door of The White Horse in Swavesey (well, not exactly past, there may have been a brief stop involving a pint of Guinness and a bag of crisps), and back to Over alongside the extensive fruit orchards.
Returning home we were able to flop down with a quick and easy dinner in front of 'The Cider House Rules' without feeling in the least bit guilty that we really ought to be doing something more worthwhile.


Practically everyone you talk to these days seems to have a tale to tell about how hectic their life is; how they were up at the crack of dawn and didn't sit down until it was almost time for bed, and although some of these stories may be true, I suspect that the majority are somewhat embellished to make an ordinary day sound exciting, full of challenges and "aren't I amazing that I manage to cope with it all?". After all, there's a part of modern society that firmly believes that if you're not stressing yourself out to the point of cardiac arrest, you're not 'achieving' and therefore a social failure who deserves to be paraded through the streets being jeered and pelted with rotten tomatoes.
But when you look at the number of people in high powered jobs with genuinely stressful lives that either jack it all in to stack shelves in a supermarket or simply succumb to heart failure several years before being due for the gold carriage clock, you can see that quite frankly it's all a load of bollocks.
We're not built for stress, and those who think they are usually end up crashing spectacularly by the time middle age rears its ugly head. Western life has become so wrapped up in 'progress', 'achievement' and 'blue sky thinking outside the box', that people have lost the ability to just simply be. To take time over things and enjoy the little things in life. I know I've banged on about this before, but I believe fervently that society needs to slow down, enjoy the world around us without feeling the need to constantly change it, and take some time out once in a while.
Yesterday's walk involved eating some delicious blackberries picked off the bushes we found near the river, the boy spotted a snake, we wondered at the amount of fruit that was being wasted in the orchards, found a giant puffball mushroom, had a nice beer and saw the biggest feckin' bull I've ever seen with enormous horns that looked so grumpy you'd think he'd just had a personal visit from Mc Donald's chief buyer.
I'll happily take all that in place of a day wandering around those temples of commercial propaganda that are our towns and cities, and I invite you to do the same.