Shops are back up and running; pubs and restaurants are cautiously preparing to open their doors to customers; hairdressers reopening their salons. Have I missed any of them during lockdown? No, not really, if I am being honest. My hair does needs a cut; and I wouldn’t say no to a cool pint if it were offered to me but, by and large, I haven’t been counting down the days until the world of consumerism swung back into operation.
The one thing I have missed during lockdown is the freedom to roam. Nothing more. Not to do anything special. Just to roam. I don’t need my roaming to have a particular purpose; don’t require it to finish up at a well-known beauty spot; or to have it have a clearly defined start and a middle and an end. I just want to be outdoors, roaming.
I have been hugely appreciative of my garden during lockdown; thankful of its small green expanse like I never have before. It has been a genuine oasis. It has extended the reach and variety of my confinement immeasurably. When I think back on this time, my most pleasant lockdown memories will undoubtedly centre around my garden. But it is not somewhere to roam.
It seems slightly ironic that during a period of time when most of the British population has been instructed to remain at home that the longest continuous coastal footpath in the world should open in England.
The English Coastal Path stretches 2,795 miles, and has been made possible by two pieces of legislation, the ‘right to roam’ element of The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
As lockdown restrictions relax, I am not fantasising about going on a spending spree at my local shopping centre; have little interest in going out for a slap-up restaurant meal; or joining the mindless masses on Bournemouth Beach. Instead, I dream of roaming the length of the English Coastal Path, my long mane of uncut hair streaming behind me in the glorious isolation and freedom of the great outdoors.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree has his Caspar David Friedrich moment.
Simon’s book Watching Life Pass Me By is available from Amazon.