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Ten things to do outdoors in lockdown – delight in the great outdoors

By Emma McNamee – 6th November 2020
RECOMMENDATION | Billy Bob’s Parlour & Diner – The Yorkshire Dales 145
Here we go again.  Lockdown Part Two: The Sequel.

With the announcement from Boris of a second national lockdown, a month getting cosy again at home with our nearest and dearest whilst embracing Zoom, FaceTime and House Party for other social interactions will become the norm yet again.

 

However, this doesn’t mean we can’t get some much-needed fresh air and outdoor exercise.  Fresh air is good for the mind and the soul.  It’s good for our lungs and hearts.  It energises us and can give us a spring in our step.  What’s more, being outside enables you to be at one with nature and appreciate the beauty around you.  And when things are all getting a bit too much, and let’s face it, lockdown is certainly having a mental impact on many of us, then taking some time out to find the beauty in each day speaks volumes.

So, with daily fresh air being vital to our well-being and self-care, here’s some ideas to get you revelling in the great outdoors and natural beauty around you during lockdown, whilst observing social distancing and Covid-safety guidelines.

 

  • Local Walks on your Doorstep

Here in Hertfordshire we’re spoilt for choice, with countryside, woodlands and parks all around us.   It’s also an explosion of colour out there at present with the change in seasons so what’s not to admire?  Personally, I can’t listen to music when I’m walking outside – I want to see, smell and soak it all in which includes the sounds of nature around me too.  Having a walk locally also allows you to catch up with a friend or family member, as the guidelines allow you to meet outdoors with one other person, provided social distancing is maintained.  So get out there daily, enjoy a walk in your local area, clear your mind, and chinwag with a friend at the same time.  My favourite local places for daily walks are Verulamium Park, Bricket Wood Common, Frogmore Lakes, and Whippendell Wood where you can also drop down to walk alongside the Grand Union Canal.

 

  • National Trust Parks and Gardens – sharing the love

Whilst their houses and shops are closed during lockdown, more than 100 National Trust parks and gardens and hundreds of coast and countryside locations around England and Northern Ireland are very much open for us all to enjoy.  For inspiration near you, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk   One of my personal local favourites is the Ashridge Estate and the walk up to Ivinghoe Beacon.

 

  • Window Shopping – show your love and support

Christmas is coming, and many of the retailers on our local high streets and beyond have transformed their window displays ahead of closing their doors for lockdown.  There’s some incredible works of art and rather impressive displays out there, a lot of sparkly stuff and lights, so whilst having a recreational walk, enjoy a browse of the shop windows to admire the phenomenal work that has been put in by so many shop owners, despite the difficulties they face.  And whilst you’re window shopping, don’t forget that many retailers may well be open for online / phone sales, so you can still support them and shop local from the comfort of your home.  My favourite window display currently in St. Albans is at The Flower Box on George Street.

 

  • Door Appreciation

This may just be one of my own weird obsessions, but there’s something about front doors….  Just like shop keepers take real pride in their window displays, home owners often take real pride in their front door.  There’s a real trend for painting doors in a myriad of colours at present, there’s some cool door knockers out there, and we’re also getting to that time of year where Christmas wreaths are going up.    So if you’ve never done it before, go “door spotting” on your walks, and identify all your favourite front doors in your local area!  Weird but fun…

 

  • Playground Pleasure

Interestingly, and unlike the first lockdown, children’s playgrounds are staying open this time round, so you can still take the children out for their daily dose of fresh air whilst they enjoy their local playground.  To help with the chillier days, grab a coffee or hot chocolate take out from the park café supporting another small local business at the same time.

 

  • Garden Grateful

If you have one, fall in love with your garden again.  Appreciate it.  Get your gardening gloves on and give it some TLC.  Throughout the first lockdown I felt very grateful for our garden (as well as the glorious weather!).   My heart really went out to people living in flats without their own personal outdoor space.  So if you have a garden, be sure to make the most of it.  Wrap up in a coat and woolly hat and enjoy a morning coffee or hot chocolate out there.  Admire your plants and flowers.  Let the kids play outside come rain or shine.  Get the BBQ on.  Have an evening aperitivo al fresco just because you can!

 

  • Garden Centre Gratification

If you’re going to be giving your garden some TLC, you may also want to pay a visit to the garden centre.   They’re staying open this time round too so show them some love and do some of your essential shopping there.  They often have beautiful displays and homewares – this time of year it will all be about Christmas, so the perfect opportunity to get some decorations whilst you’re there.  A lot of people this year are choosing to get their Christmas decorations up early to bring a bit of early cheer in to the household in lockdown – why not join the craze?!  Many garden centres also have a farm shop selling local produce so a good way to stock up on your essential fruit and veg too.  My “go to” Garden Centres here in St. Albans are:

https://www.burston.co.uk

https://www.aylettnurseries.co.uk

https://www.notcutts.co.uk

https://carpentersnursery.co.uk

 

  • Sunrise Serenity

This is my favourite time of day in the autumn and winter months when the days are shorter, the mornings are fresh, crisp and dewy, and there’s a real tranquillity when you’re up and about early.  It starts my day with a sense of calm, and clears my head to focus on the day ahead.   Currently, sunrise is around 7am, and my favourite place that time of day is Verulamium Park, looking across the lake to the Cathedral.  It’s mesmerising.

 

  • Sunset Downtime

If you prefer the other end of the day for sun-gazing, sunset is currently between 4 and 5pm – a great time to take one of the kids out for a walk after school so they can have some down time too and get some good old fresh air in to their lungs.  Having some 1:1 time with one of the kids whilst walking the dog is when they tend to chat away with me and tell me what’s going on in their lives, so this time is precious on so many levels, and how amazing to be able to do this whilst catching the sun set too.

 

  • Waterside Therapy

There’s something therapeutic about water, and whilst we don’t live by the sea here in Hertfordshire, there’s still plenty of places to enjoy a waterside walk, be it a lake, a river, a canal or a stream.  Watching and listening to the flow of water, playing pooh sticks and jumping across stepping stones in a stream are all still allowed whilst you’re getting some fresh air and exercise and respecting social distance from others.   My favourite places locally to enjoy waterside walks are Aldenham Reservoir, Stanborough Lakes, Verulamium Park and the River Ver trail in Bricket Wood.

 

So whilst the prospect of another month in lockdown may be daunting, don’t hide yourself away inside.  Get your walking boots or trainers on, find the beauty in every day outside, be at one with nature and take in some fresh air.  You will feel so much better for it!

 

Enjoy!

 

Emma xoxo

Emma McNamee
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