With the rush back to Guildford and dealing with all of that things got a little crazy, my taking it easy vow has not got off to a good start. For a start I need to find somewhere to plug in and work for a couple of hours this morning to get a presentation put together for one of our Japanese partners.
Of course being the first morning back I was wide awake by 4, jet lagged and alone in the house. I sort of got used to being alone in the house last summer when dad as in then, but it felt very strange to get up in the middle of the night and not hear him snoring.
At 6 the sky was still black as I was leaving the house to go for a walk. I drove to Newlands Corner, and there were the first streaks of light in the sky as I parked up in what is about my favourite place.
As I posted a week or so ago one of things I’ve been trying to do recently with is finding time to relax and wind down. Baby steps like 10 minutes with a book before bed, or a few moments somewhere quiet to remind me how wonderful my life is. Walking down the south face of the downs in the semi-darkness gives me the same feeling of tranquillity, it shows me that despite being around people who don’t pay their bills and the pressures of work there are places in the world that provide perspective and allows me to put those things in their own compartment and deal with it then.
The North Downs are a large chalk escarpment that runs across England south of London, Guildford grew up in a gap in the escarpment caused by the river Wey flowing North into the Thames (thank you school geology field trips).
It’s a 40 minute walk to Saint Martha’s church with lots of up and down. The sky was light by the time I got the top. The view is wonderful and there are a few other early morning walkers around. All glowing and feeling superior, lets be clear I only got to watch dawn from Saint Martha’s because I’m jet lagged and it felt strange to be in the house by myself.
On a regular morning there is not much chance of me joining these people in jogging up and down steep hills. It’s not that I’m lazy, just realistic in knowing how much I struggle to get out of bed most mornings.
It’s not much above freezing out, but it is a beautiful morning. I’m no poet and have no idea what words could even come close to describing the serenity and quiet that is starting my day off. After a few minutes I’m starting to feel the cold, it is January after all and I get up to head back to the car.
I take a slightly longer route that keeps me in the trees on the crest and off the bare escarpment. I spent a lot of time playing and cycling in these woods. And while details have changed the paths follow the same routes and there is a comforting familiarity to this.
I was talking about something unrelated to someone a few months ago and she said “you can never go home again”, and while I agree with that in respect things being the same, they can’t. Roles evolve and change, it can’t be was it was and I’m OK with that.
Living in suburbia cuts you off from the seasons, but walking, along with looking out of my bedroom window gives me that awareness back. In the early light of a crisp January morning this is a wonderful place to appreciate and enjoy.
Take where I was walking at that moment it’s a place where my friends and I would take our bike, build jumps in the dirt and push ourselves. The ramps and deep bombhole like depressions are still there, kids have been playing silly buggers on bikes here for at least 25 years. Waking through here brings back a number of long forgotten and typically painful memories. It’s where I face planted hard when I totally mistimed pulling up to get more air off one of the larger jumps. This is also where a friend broke his collarbone dropping into one of the bombholes and trying for style points.
These thoughts make me smile (and wince a little). It’s not only that we traded a lot of skin and pain in these places, it’s also where we had fun, learned, explored and pushed ourselves. It’s the old adage, a little competition never hurt anyone, it does push everyone to do their best, no matter if it’s at work, home or on a mountain bike.
The wander this morning gave me a few little smile and brought back a few long forgotten memories. I love this place and while I agree with the statement that you can never go home again the familiarity and my history here is comforting and helps me deal with coming back to the empty house in Guildford. Now back to presentations and the real reason I’m in Guildford…