If you've read the recent blog post I wrote for Juliet Greenwood you'll already know how I spent lockdown - and it didn't involve baking banana bread! Cooking, cleaning, and food shopping for a houseful of people (like every one else!) didn't leave much time for writing but I've finished the edits for my most recent book You Make it Feel Like Christmas and I'm now a third of the way into a sequel to Trust Me I Lie. (You can read more about these books here).
One thing that helped keep me sane during lockdown was my evening walks with my family. We were lucky enough move to a village on the Wales/Cheshire border two years ago but hadn't had the time to explore. Unable to go further than five miles from our home, we now had plenty of opportunity to explore!
We started by checking out the footpaths we knew about. They often led to the strangest places. Some we hadn't even known existed. I thought this path would take us to the local school, instead it was a back route into the churchyard, complete with fairy tale lychgate.
Although we knew the church was there, we hadn't appreciated how huge the graveyard was or how old some of the graves were.
We found the grave of a soldier who survived the Charge of the Light Brigade (living to be 88!), a row of war graves commemorating the pilots who died during training at the local airfield, and lots and lots of bluebells.
I got into the habit of taking my phone with me. I tried to take a photo each day and post it on Instagram. I went through a phase of taking moody shots of sunsets through trees
and found that by playing around with camera angles, I could make them look gothic.
We chose a different walk each evening and, as we became fitter, joined the walks together until we were doing a two-mile walk every evening. My favourite (obviously) was to the local castle.
Because there were hardly any people or traffic about, we saw a lot more of the local wildlife
and discovered a pond where we got to know all the geese (Canada and Greylag) and watched their offspring grow up. (This is why my Instagram feed was full of blurry photos of goslings.)
It turns out that our village is almost entirely surrounded by farmland and is one of the few places in this area that grows barley. (Yes, I did have to Google that. I'm such a city girl I had to Google that it was barley!)
As well as the goslings, we found lambs (who wouldn't stay still long enough for me to focus the camera)
and curious cows who were happy to pose.
With the change in the weather, I'm still walking but taking less photos. There are only so many pictures of grey skies and blurry goslings that anyone wants to see! I've walked every footpath around my village (once accidentally ending up back at my house when I thought I was going somewhere else). I've learnt all the history and watched the goslings grow up - and fly away.
I've photographed the spring flowers in the hedgerows (and learnt their names!) and when I look back at my Instagram it's like flicking through a diary - with lots of good times to counteract the bad ones. So I'm going to keep walking, taking photos, and enjoying nature, and every day being thankful and very grateful for all that I have, and all that I was too busy to slow down and appreciate before.