Today is International Happiness Day and we can understand if you were going to let it slip right by without a second thought. It’s been a tough time for all of us, particularly not being able to see family and friends, or travel of course.
But in many ways, we have been forced to adapt to this new normal. One of the key things that many of us have learned is that moments of happiness can be found anywhere, even in the bleakest of times. The frontiers we’re exploring may have become a bit more mild than wild, but this beautiful planet of ours is still providing us with some unexpected experiences and reasons to smile. Here are some of ours:
I was on my morning walk down into Heythrop Park the other day when a large stag deer jumped a fence from the woods on one side of the track, ran across in front of me and bounded over the fence back into the wood on the other side. Quite a moment. We do have quite a lot of deer down here, like muntjac and park deer, so seeing them isn’t that unusual. Indeed I have quite often seen a small herd of 20 to 30 scampering through the mist early morning across what is, for now, a deserted golf course. But seeing a stag, with full antlers, only 20 yards away, was pretty amazing.
I moved to Peckham between lockdowns in October last year and my new sanctuary became a tiny room right up on the top floor of this terraced house. The perk of said tiny room is a view of the city over the rooftops in the distance, which catches the light when the sun is low. It’s been pretty epic for these fiery sunsets that we’ve been having!
One unexpected joy I've found in lockdown is going on little walking adventures in my local area. I've never been one for doing that unless we were in the depths of summer and it was in the direction of beer. But oh the things I've seen!
In one of my local parks, we spotted an unusual looking goose. A quick Google search showed that she was an Egyptian goose, and even better, had with her a wee gosling that we admired from afar. And just the other day, I saw a man with a white pigeon perched on one hand, while he stroked the beautiful bird’s little breast. The man would lift his hand, the pigeon would fly off and with a whistle, he would come straight back. Even some nearby ducks waddled over to get some seeds like this man was a real-life Disney Princess. I mean, he wasn’t quite a Mongolian Eagle-Hunter, but I was pretty impressed nonetheless...
Like everyone, lockdown has forced me to go on numerous walks around my local area. Getting a bit bored of the same parks, I found out about the website treetalk.co.uk - they have mapped virtually every tree in London and will create a walk of interest based on your postcode, with notable trees pointed out. My walk included a Mongolian Lime Tree and excitingly, a Coast Redwood (or sequoia) more commonly found in California. Whilst the Redwood didn’t quite match up to the enormous size they reach in the US, it was great to see and the site has helped me see my local area with new eyes.
I found a website called Kent walks near London which I’ve been steadily working my way through. My favourite walk to date is Walk 24 which introduced me to the wonderful (and previously unknown to me) sights of Chevening House and the nearby village. I was very surprised to find such grand scenery so near to the M25! Here are some more websites I found that were incredibly handy for local adventures:
I’d strongly suggest people download the excellent (and free) app from https://www.viewranger.com/en-gb
It’s like Google Maps but much better as it includes every single track and trail which is invaluable inside forests and on open moorland!