When I relocated from New England to 'real' England, a daily journaling routine began. This indoor activity was gradually replaced by solo exploration of my new surroundings.
My lifelong habit of carrying identification, credit cards, bank cards, and everything else I would not leave home without in America slowly ebbed, I was down to include just keys, tissues, and my mobile phone.
The written word was replaced with photos of my daily life.
It took years before I stop rationing picture-taking. Remember thinking, "Is this worth taking an actual picture? I only have two left on this film roll!"
(If not, know that it required what I call Photo Math: Taking Just Enough Pictures to complete a roll prior to having to get them physically developed.)
My once-daily Local Strolls into Winchelsea town became twice a day, and at the end of 2019, my Epic Wanders began.
This coincided with me getting COVID-19 (an unknown entity at the time, I thought it was a bad cold) and I have a strict personal rule to stay clear of others if ill. Thus, my regular excursions into Winchelsea were left behind, seeking routes having more open space, and where I knew no one.
NOTE: This change worked to a point, however I ended up with a whole new set of 'people I know!'
I explored country lanes, public footpaths, 1066 Country Walk, the Royal Military Canal Path, Pannel Valley Nature Reserve, and every woodland I could find.
Coastal routes from Winchelsea to Hastings, the epic grandeur of Fairlight Church (see photo,) Hastings Country Park, endless fields of grassland, sheep, horses, and cows (with the occasional goat making appearances.)
My walking adventures took me through ancient woodlands, Guestling Woods, and explored the grounds of local churches from Pett to Fairlight.
Initially, I stuck to the narrow and winding lanes. Having a keen ear was mandatory due to passing vehicles, sheep being herded to another field, and people on horseback. I then graduated to well-marked and easily followed footpaths.
Inadvertently, I discovered the Joys of Getting Lost.
These journeys prompted me to develop a personal set of maxims:
Always, always, ALWAYS anticipate others on approach or from behind you.
Be aware of places to quickly remove yourself from your current path. Eventually, there WILL be a vehicle, farm machinery, or those on horseback requiring all available space. Giant tractors that brush along both sides of the lane do not care if you have the right of way.
Acknowledge everyone you encounter.
Wave to each passing vehicle (in my head, this communicates both 'Thanks for not running me over' and 'Hello, I see you.') Extend a greeting to all, even with a simple hello. At the very least it is polite, and you may have conversation or even make a new friend.
Avoid staring into peoples' gardens and homes.
You can admire, but not stop and gape. Living along a quiet country lane gives me a first-hand perspective. I'm not keen on the blatant stop-and-stare (although if I do see this happening, I smile and wave frantically, which for some reason makes people quickly resume walking, which amuses me to no end.)
You cannot get lost in the woods.
Choose a path and follow it, without diverting or turning back, and eventually you will find the way out. Even the deepest, darkest woodlands are surrounded by homes, farms, and lanes.
Even if it seems no one is around, act as if someone is listening.
I've inadvertently overheard bits of passers-by conversation while I was in my garden, inside my house, and along my walking journeys.
Pay attention to the ever-changing flora, fauna, and landscapes. Some of my favourite moments and best pictures are results of simply noticing.
Although these personal rules were developed from my walking journeys, they can be applied to everyday life. Try one and let me know about your experience!