Enjoying the outdoors – Before it was forbidden

nearherewayaway bouldering Simonside 1

Warm spring sun on the back. Cold grippy rock under my hands. Just an easy warm-up climb. Then, of course, my foot slips, and I hit it on the rock underneath. Ouch. Now it’s not a time for unnecessary injuries, the healthcare system is busy enough.

On the last full day before the UK COVID-19 lockdown started, I went out bouldering with a few other climbers at Simonside Hills. Climbing is, perhaps, a high-risk activity but we tried to be especially careful because of the current situation. We had a brilliant time and spent seven hours on the rocks, climbing and chiling. First day out this year when my toes and fingers were not turning blue!

We were the only climbers in that particular crag, but the forest paths in the area were busy with families celebrating Mother’s Day. I was spying on the happy people walking past our spot down below the hill.

There was plenty of space between each family and dog walker, obviously people were avoiding contact with others who did not belong to their group.

The only place where people were concentrated in one place was the parking area. But mostly it was just the cars that were concentrated: People arrived at different times and kept their distance to others.

How great is this, I thought, sitting on my rock. Now that public places like shopping centres, cinemas and pubs are closed, people are heading outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. When those who are ill will stay home, others can go outside where the risk of getting infected is lower (I assumed this would be so due to more space and constant flow of fresh air). Surely this is a good thing.

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And yet, the next night the whole of the UK went into lockdown and the government forbade all the “unnecessary” outdoor activities.

Now we are stuck at home. We are, of course, allowed that one exercise a day, but we shouldn’t drive anywhere to do that exercise. To me it means running up and down the river. Some people are lucky to live near nice walking, running and maybe even climbing spots, but others are less lucky. And now some councils are considering closing the parks as well.

I thought people would be encouraged to go outside but turns out that we are actually encouraged to watch Netflix.

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