There have been some positives from the restricted movement we’ve all had to endure during the last fifteen months.
Personally, the biggest pleasure I’ve enjoyed has been a renewed appreciation of nature. Right at the beginning of the lockdowns we were allowed to leave our homes only for essential reasons and to take exercise.
I’ve always loved running and down the years I’ve run fourteen marathons and numerous 10Ks and half marathons, but I think all that running has worn out my knees. I guess being overweight doesn’t help, but in recent years I’ve done most of my exercise in the gym. Despite having been double vaccinated I’m still reluctant to return to indoor exercise.
I’ve rediscovered walking in recent months, both with the family and alone. I live in Oldham and from my house we’ve discovered that within five minutes we can we be in the countryside. What a revelation. How many times have we driven along a road not realising that on the other side of an apparently ordinary hedge was a beautiful field with trees and bushes a plenty. Even the most innocent football becomes gorgeous when everything is in bloom as it is right now.
I knew there was a short cut from the main road to our housing estate because my lads used to walk that way home from school, but on one of our recreational walks, along that route in recent months we caught sight of a deer. It was exactly what you’d expect to see, a beautiful animal, not unlike Bambi; in Oldham.
I’ve become quite addicted to my walks and I’ve now explored the extensive canal system that is hidden in plain sight all around us. I’d always been aware of the area around Uppermill in Saddleworth, but as we explored further we extended our “health walks” deeper into the countryside up towards Grandpa Greens in Diggle.
I present a weekly show on Tameside Radio, every Friday from 7pm, so after one afternoon recording I decided to walk along the canal from Ashton towards Manchester before doing the other half of the walk, from Manchester towards Ashton the following week. Canals are such picturesque pieces of historic architecture. Locks fascinate me and it’s thrilling to see a barge come along the water. One of these days I’ll have to explore the canals more on board but as well as walking on the tow path I’ve rediscover running.
I’m a bit slower and more wobbly than I once was but apart from occasionally having to climb up some steps or run up an incline around the locks it's generally flat, which is not a bad thing. The other day I ran three miles along the canal from Chadderton Park towards Rochdale before taking a short break and running back. It was a joyful experience, listening to the birds chirping their songs and a lovely break from the twittering I’m usually up to in my day to day life. I’ve felt refreshed by the fresh air and being among the wildlife, even the hissing geese that are simply keeping you away from their chicks.
As we slowly return to our hectic lives, as normality returns, I’m going to make sure I maintain my reconnection to nature. It’s free, it’s not far away and it’s great for your mental health.
I know you’re more used to me chirping on about sport but for the next couple of months I’ll be writing and broadcasting about other things too although I’ll still be keeping my eyes on the sport too. This Friday from 7pm, on Tameside Radio, I’ll be chatting to former England player Dennis Tueart about the Euros which start on Friday, but I’ll have other fascinating guests to entertain you too.