A Breath of Fresh Air

How I'm getting back out into the countryside whilst living with MS

Archive for the tag “reading”


Recently, I’ve been escaping to the hills in my mind. I’ve been reading ‘Walking Home’ by Simon Armitage. The book tells of his journey along the Pennine Way, back to his home town of Marsden, which sits in the Pennines a couple of days’ walk south of me.

He’s a poet – I found one of his poems engraved on a stone as part of a sequence, on a previous tandem ride. And so he decided, not only to walk the route home (and a little more), but to provide a poetry reading each evening to ‘sing for his supper’ and bed for the night.

'Walking Home' by Simon Armitage

‘Walking Home’ by Simon Armitage

So he found himself reading to varying numbers of people in out-of-the-way pubs, with an ever-changing band of companions joining him for an odd day of the walk. As for me, I found him easygoing company along the whole journey.

He made me smile as he told of days where he became completely lost in empty landscapes unable to get his bearings, of eating soggy sandwiches on damp grass, and of long days walking, finding his stride and keeping going.

He recreated the beauty of the hills and the wonder of suddenly happening on a stunning piece of scenery, usually with absolutely no one about for miles and miles.

The more I read, the more I found that, when I shut my eyes, those hills and moors and rivers and valleys were before me again. It’s been a very refreshing journey.

Digging the Time Away

I am currently without my tandem engine (Pete) as his knee requires much rest. This means that I’ve had to content myself with other activities. These have included:

  • Catching up on television, especially programmes featuring scenery (not at all desperate!)
  • Planning trips for when we are able to venture out again
  • Driving to places with a view, whilst keeping an eye out for possible tandem routes
  • Not being sure whether to be glad that the weather has been so awful that we might not have got out anyway
  • Making enquiries about local archery clubs
  • Wondering if I dare enquire about horse riding
  • Reading, if possible, sitting on the doorstep
  • Gardening

These last two activities are my stand by’s for getting a little fresh air, even if I can’t otherwise venture far. I’m often pleasantly surprised how much better I feel just for sitting on the doorstep, my nose barely outside, with a good book and a warming cup of tea.

I also enjoy pottering about, doing a little gardening. I’m not very good and have made plenty of mistakes over the years but really like the feel of my fingers in the soil. I’m equally happy planting or weeding, just so long as I can get my fingers dirty!

I mainly just tend the little patch at the front of the house, which is plenty for me. I am constantly amazed at how a little digging with trowel and hand can have a hugely disproportionate effect on my ability to walk. The plus side is that I have to take it all very gently, with lots of rests to admire my efforts, then a particularly long rest to enjoy my achievements (the tiny “lawn” cut or the edges weeded), preferably whilst supping a mug of tea.


Another advantage of getting outside to tend the garden is that I often bump into a neighbour, or nod hello to walkers as they pass by along the nearby footpath.

So I have been delighted by the recent couple of days of fine weather. I have cut the grass so that the bluebells (well, we’ve acquired whitebells and pinkbells for some reason!) and grape hyacinths that have nestled in amongst the grass are now visible. I’ve also planted out the geraniums that survived overwintering indoors (only two deaths – not bad for me!) I have chatted to neighbours and have agreed with everyone who walked past how lovely the weather has been. And I’ve enjoyed that very tired feeling after having finished as I know it’s from doing something fun and outdoors!

I’m also waiting to hear back about archery …


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