The Great Outdoors


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Published: July 7th 2009
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Folk in England are truly fascinated by the possibility of just how dangerous life in Australia can be. From red-back spiders to box jelly fish, deadly snakes and man-eating crocodiles...they are equally delighted and terrified with the scope by which one could possibly meet their own end. I often find myself in conversations with work colleagues and clients about snakes and spiders and other creepy crawlies and people can hardly disguise their terror and delight. There's even a television program called 'Australia's deadliest creatures' which is dedicated to scaring Brits even more. I do confess that Adam and I both acknowledged we were leaving the deadliest continent on earth as we flew out of Sydney that first time (it was small bit of consolation from an otherwise teary me).

The fact that Britain itself offers very little in the way of the dangerous or deadly is one of the things that has made me really love nature and outdoor pursuits. In Britain, there is simply nothing to be afraid of. So I'll walk through fields up to my knees in long grass or follow creek bends through overgrown forest or scamper up rocks to make it to the top of a precipice (though I do confess an irrational and unyielding fear of being 'blown off' the tops of peaks which I'm still a way from overcoming!) Similarly, I may not be a fan of mud and grime but I can tolerate it for the joys the great outdoors offers here.

This May time we braved the possible road chaos to venture south to one of Britain's largest national parks, the Peak District, for a few days of camping. We were quite pleased with the improvements in our camping situation in comparison with our abysmal camping set-up last year. This year we'd invested in some stools as well as a single gas burner and some cooking pans. So albeit still measly, we felt slightly less pitied by fellow campers by our ability to at least prepare a hot cup of tea or heat up a can of beans. Brilliant! We camped in a farmyard set-up with lamas and sheep grazing nearby, with lots of family types taking full advantage of the unexpected pleasant weather conditions this long weekend. Not only was it dry and sunny, it was actually bordering on being warm. It really does happen!

The Peak District has lots to offer in the way of walking trails. In the end, we only spent a day walking as we paid the price for being poorly prepared on our first attempt out tramping. Day one, having only just arrived and having not bothered with food for brekkie that morning, we set off 'for a stroll' and walked for the following 5-6 hours without being equipped with water or anything to sustain us. Despite our best efforts to find some sustenance on the trail, we quickly found there was next to nothing on offer with more sensible folk having prepacked their own food and refreshments in recognition of this. By the time we found somewhere to stop, I was about to gnaw off my arm-I was so hungry-and both of us were extremely tired from what we'd normally consider to be light work. The following day I awoke with a very tight hip muscle and a very slight limp, and Adam too was a little worst for wear. Needless to say neither of us had the energy or will to walk another 6 hours and so we resigned ourselves to checking out the small townships. By day three, we were somewhat recovered but the weather was against us and so we called it a day and headed north again.

While it wasn't exactly the weekend we had planned, it was nonetheless a good one spent breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the spoils of nature. It also served as a reminder of how important it is to get back to basics every now and then to make us truly appreciate the luxuries we're blessed with in our lives.

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