In these times of constant connectivity, many of us are permanently stooped forwards, eyes down poring over texts and tweets – barely looking at what’s in front of us, let alone what’s high in the skies above us.
What we are losing connection with, it seems, is Mother Nature.
I’m sometimes guilty of that myself. It’s easily done, there’s always something else that needs doing; an errand to run, some shopping to do – life is hectic, tiring and when you do have time, well, chances are you just want to crash ‘n’ chill.
But re-connecting with nature is the single most important thing that we can do, for our health and happiness.
I know this because every time I’ve ventured out for a walk in the forest or a stroll in a park I’ve been glad that I did (and immediately wondered why I don’t do more of it). Being in touch with the natural world educates, restores and gives perspective, and we can do this wherever we are, if we want to.
Here are four of my images in celebration of nature and the great outdoors, near and far.
Above: this, literally, is the back of the residential car park outside my house. It was taken last autumn and I have no idea who the bicycle belongs to. When I saw the bright blue of the bike frame against the rich dappled carpet of fallen leaves, I just stopped and smelled the air, and listened to the wind rustling through the branches. Here I was, in a large coastal town in Hampshire, going about my daily business, and unexpectedly having a moment of reconnection with nature, albeit on a small scale.
In 2012 I achieved one of my travel dreams and visited South America for the first time. I saw sacred valleys in Peru, vast plains of salt in Bolivia, and thundering waterfalls in Argentina and Brazil. The natural phenomena of this part of the world are what the word ‘awesome’ was created for.
Above: Much of the Peruvian coast consists of long stretches of still, parched desert, contrasting with the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean. This is Paracas National Reserve, a little known stretch between Lima and Nazca, consisting of tropical desert and unique marine habitats.
It’s one of my biggest joys to be surprised by an unknown destination, and this was one of the most intriguing. Parts of it reminded me of NASA photographs of the planet Mars. It was other-worldly for sure.
Above: Woodlands and forests have always been among my favourite environments (I swear I’m related to the faery folk!) and this little arboreal zone is enchanting. It’s Cathedral Grove, on Vancouver Island, a protected remnant of an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem
Some of these trees are more than 800 years old, with their ribbed pillars towering above like imposing gothic architecture. Walking among them was sobering and captivating, and really brought home how essential it is that we preserve our natural habitats.
Above: ‘It’s a large, white building!’, I hear you say, ‘how can this be about nature?!’.
Ah, but we are on a mountain top! This dome is part of the Calar Alto Observatory, high up on the pine-clad Sierra de los Filabres, in south-east Spain.
Earlier this year I visited the Observatory and the setting is spectacular. At the pinnacle of a 23km drive up winding mountain roads, the air is thinner here, so breathing is more laboured, but it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s quite an office for the resident astronomers.
At night, the stark vistas of Spanish mountains and plains fade and give way to the dark canopy of the cosmos. Out there, the great glittering outdoors continues to infinity.
I’m a relative newcomer to the crazy world of travel blogging (or, as my mother calls it, flogging – maybe she knows something I don’t). It’s a wonderful community, and I’m grateful for all the support I’ve received for my blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I continue to learn and be inspired by my fellow bloggers. Recently, I was quite taken by On The Luce’s evocative images and words about the Outer Hebrides, and their wild, romantic setting. For this reason, I nominate Lucy Dodsworth to take up the #ShareYourOutdoors challenge.
The Aspinall Foundation
The Aspinall Foundation, based in Kent, is an internationally renowned conservation charity, committed to the breeding, reintroduction and protection of rare and endangered species. To support their work by raising awareness, bloggers are being asked to create a collage of 4 images representing their favourite natural/outdoors locations. Post the collage, along with an accompanying write-up, on your blog and share it on social media using the hashtag #ShareYourOutdoors.
Note: the competition deadline has been extended until the end of October. Thanks to my blogging pal Kathryn at Travel With Kat for the nomination.