By Nicky Hedgecock.
A couple of days before the lockdown was announced I travelled to the South East of England to spend time with my family, so here I am still, unable to travel back to Wales.
So, for someone who lives in mid Wales, teaches outdoor education and bushcraft, enjoys running (jogging!) and the odd wild swim, I have to wonder how I am going to manage the current situation that we all find ourselves in. I struggle doing a weekend indoors if I’m not working and usually find myself planning a long day walk or going on a bike ride or run over the hills.
By the very nature of my job, to suddenly have that curtailed for a non-specified, but what I feel will be a long time, got me thinking about what was important.
Firstly, I am so grateful I am with my family and that we can experience these unprecedented times and tribulations together. We share ideas about things we can do in the house and garden and the children, all grown up now, are trying new things and we are all mucking in together.
We have also been extremely lucky with the weather so far. The irony is not lost on me that what seemed like the entirety of autumn was wet and windy and that now I have time and the weather is good, my life has, in effect, shrunk to a very small area. Home, shop and exercise.
One of my first reactions to being back in the family home was to make an inventory of all the food in the cupboards, which is probably due, in part, to the panic buying which had been going on but also to take stock of what we really need and what is important. As long as the basics are covered then that’s fine. I love to bake and make meals from scratch and when things aren’t available, I can improvise. There is an ever increasing supply of wild food this time of the year and this will only improve as the weeks go on and spring pushes forward.
Another part of my day is to exercise and I am very grateful that my family home is next to the South Downs. I have been running every day of lockdown, either with my husband or alone and this is one of my connections to nature that I can’t do without. With everything that is happening around the world at the moment and how atrocious it all is, when I am out in nature I can truly appreciate how it carries on regardless, the same way it has for millennia and it kind of restores my faith that when us humans are forced to retract back into our own environments, nature will reclaim hers. I marvel at the pictures of wildlife venturing into the towns and cities, it lifts my heart. To keep my footfall to a minimum, I also use this time to collect any bits and pieces I fancy adding to the dinner pot or use for a craft activity.
Even in the garden, we are, as a family, working hard on turning it from what was, quite frankly, a bit of an overgrown patch of land because of time restraints, to what will be, hopefully, a very productive vegetable and fruit supply over the coming months. It is so gratifying digging your own veg and picking your own fruit to use at mealtimes and I look forward to this.
I have, just today, been planning my venture into herb infused oils for cooking, there is a nice selection in the garden and all will go well with a roasty or two!
The rhubarb isn’t letting me down either, I have made a few crumbles for puddings and tomorrow will try my hand at ginger and rhubarb jam.
In anticipation of the, hopefully, bumper crop, I ordered plenty of jars for the preserving season and will have a healthy store of jams from wild berries, passata, jellies, chutneys etc and a freezer of lovely veg.
I have never taken my freedom to access nature for granted and have always been happy in the outdoors but I now have a renewed sense of gratitude and understanding of how important it really is to my wellbeing.