With the recent easing of restrictions on movement across Wales this week, a photographer friend came to join me for what were the first few days of leave I’ve taken since the start of the lockdown. Working as a care support worker outside of my role with Green Minds, I’ve continued to be busy over the past few months, and watched as one by one all my original travel plans across the summer were cancelled, and work became the primary focus for the foreseeable.
Its been interesting times for everyone, and I’m sure I’ve not been alone in experiencing a mix of feelings with the easing of the lockdown. In one respect pleased at seeing more friends and family again, but in another sensing a heavy heart at the increase in activity amongst our streets and skies, with noise levels up and the subtle sounds of nature being dampened down once again. That said, returning to Green Minds, albeit on a smaller more socially distanced scale has been lovely, and I’ve enjoyed seeing our group members again, old and new, as we’ve regained a sense of team spirit and purpose, gardening in the cathedral grounds and walking amongst the beeches and oaks of neighbouring Priory Groves.
What’s also been noticeable this past week is the increase in holiday makers returning to the area. The once quiet canal, fields and woodlands around me have suddenly begun filling with campervans, boats and bodies as many take their first tentative steps away from home, in an understandable attempt to manage some sort of summer holiday before the remainder of the warm weather draws to a close, and the chill of autumn comes knocking once again. This too, whilst nice to see the activity and happy smiley faces of people coming to enjoy this beautiful region, has brought up a pang of sadness at the loss of peacefulness and quietude we’ve come to enjoy these last few months.
Despite the difficult situations for many affected by this pandemic, I can’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity the lockdown brought us, to slow down our pace a life a little and to quietly engage with nature again, enjoying all that she has to offer without the full thrust of busy human activity we’ve grown so used to as the ‘norm’. So in a bid to try to extend some of that quiet time in nature, I set off with my friend, to seek out some of the more peaceful spots still to be found (if you know where to look) tucked away off the well-trodden trails! As a visitor himself, it was fun trying to find the right balance of showing him some of the beautiful sights on offer in this part of the world, without finding ourselves caught up in the increasing tourist melee filling the area as the days progressed. From a tiny track leading us to stupendous views of the Black Mountains, to a quiet moorland tucked above the epic Pen y Fan range, we gently pootled our way around the back roads and sunny lanes on his trusty motorbike, taking in waterfalls, woodlands and reservoirs bathed in the shifting summer sunshine, whilst also enjoying cups of tea and welsh cakes parked up in shady glades and by waters edges.
Those few days, although short and fleeting, reminded me again how precious our natural environment continues to be to our wellbeing. How lucky we are to have this scenery on our doorsteps, these beautiful wild untamed places available to us whenever we choose to engage, constantly singing to our hearts, inspiring our minds and bringing a sense of awe and wonder back into our lives. Although the lockdown may have lifted, and the people and traffic have returned in their droves, there still remains the opportunity to find stillness and peace wherever you may be, and enjoy all that mother nature has to offer, whether it be from a simple window view, to a garden or further afield, our reciprocal relationship with the natural world continues and never needs to feel lost.
If you are local to Brecon and the surrounding areas and would like to share your reflections on nature and wellbeing during the lockdown please get in touch :-)