A piece about walking, lifestyle changes and life at home.
Those Boots Are Made For Walking
When we started a travel blog in 2017, never did I think I’d write a piece about my 7 year old walking boots! Arriving back home in London I started thinking about what I missed most about our ten months of travel and my conclusion was my walking boots. It’s not that I miss the actual specifics of the so-old-they’re-flapping-open North Face’s, but the therapeutic qualities of strapping them on and embarking on a days excursion with Ali. The boots seem to symbolise freedom, change and health, with every day of travel building on the last. Walking, standing and sometimes running was the action that embodied our daily transitions, so when we decided to walk as often as we could, our journeys became and felt more physical. I miss the simplicity of being on my feet all day.
There’s a lot to be said for the process of preparing for a long walk; slipping on some thick socks, lacing up, preparing for changing weather, packing food and water and setting off into the unknown. The act of walking is a therapeutic one and I always feel better after a walk than before. It’s most special when you find that perfect balance, your flow. There’s always a point in a walk where it becomes sub-conscious. Your mind is clear of the day-to-day humdrum, conversation gushes and your appreciation for what's around you becomes heightened. After a year of hiking around the globe, walking is truly the best therapy I’ve felt, a perfect combination of fitness and mindfulness, all for free. For the folks that enjoy a long hike, you’ll know the sweet-spot where you find the ‘flow’. The perfect state where the mind is freed of stresses and it’s just your company, nature and the rhythm of each step forward that matters.
Developing a passion for walking has also helped foster a fascination with nature. I used to just see trees, fields and lakes, and now I spot the details and get excited about the little features of the walk. Once I saw a bird fishing, now I notice a heron skilfully preying. Perhaps it’s age, but spending time in nature deals me healing properties and the older I get the more time I need to spend outdoors, this very article has been put together in Hackney Downs park. It’s as if we spend our formative years experimenting with the world to see what we love about it. Reflecting back, I can see I was far more interested in vaguely hollow pleasures like technology, clubbing and cinema; all great things but also indoor pursuits. Finding a passion for the great outdoors grew from experiencing incredible landscapes in places like Norway, Mongolia and China, as well as spotting the unearthly fauna like vultures, elephants and camouflaging lizards in the wild. The world is much more exciting when you’re eyes are open to it.
Walking in other countries has definitely made me appreciate the UK’s natural wonders. We were invited up to the Lake District by Ali’s family a few weeks after we got home and were totally blown away by the Lakes and mountains around Keswick. It taught me it’s far too easy to under-appreciate our own countries natural wonders, naively, assuming that the grass is always greener. The UK’s open fields are some of the greenest I’ve ever seen and it’s mountains are decent too. We loved it so much we booked our summer holiday back to the very same place, lucky Keswick!
Back In London
Having just mentioned how green everything is, the U.K. is actually enjoying and sweltering in the longest and strongest heatwave since the 1970s and grass isn’t so green right now. It’s been the perfect time to get outside in the evenings when it’s cooler, so we’ve been enjoying strolls on the Hackney Marshes in East London and pondering what we could do next now that we are home. We’ve clearly been missing the simpler travel life so are having little adventures like cycling instead of bussing, even when the cycle is a two hour off-road route from Salisbury to a wedding we went to! We’ve been busy making Studio Mali into a business and using Airbnb help with bills whilst Ali gets her products into the world. But from time to time I can’t help my mind wondering back to those long walks in nature.
22 Days Straight
The pinnacle of our walking lives was the epic 22 day trek around the Annapurna mountains in Nepal. High altitude, snow, rain, flu and food poisoning all had be to contended with but through the challenges came satisfaction and fulfilment, and ultimately, walking in Nepal was my biggest highlight of the trip. There was something very primeval about filling up on porridge, packing up and setting off along the apple pie route, named after the apple orchards that grow so plentifully around the ring of the mountains. Even when we hit the high altitudes of the Thorong-La Pass at 5,400km I enjoyed looking down to spot my wooly socks peeping out the side of my walking boots. It was careless to attempt such a challenging trek with substandard kit but I wanted to finish the trip with the same boots, I was compelled too. The boots survived, and so did I, and in a moment of ceremony on our last day I left the 7 year old boots on a bridge in Tbilisi, Georgia. Hopefully they might bring somebody some pleasure, they certainly did for me.
What did I learn from this close relationship to my walking boots? (I never thought i’d say those words together) ….Appreciate what you have and really consider when you need something and when you want something. Distinguishing between those two points has been very important since roaming the streets of the oh-so-commerical London again where everyone is grappling for your earnings. If you can teach yourself to be happy with what you have then living a simpler, lower cost, life is entirely possible even in an expensive place like the U.K. Be happy with what you have and, like walking is for me, find that thing gives you pleasure and do it everyday.
Why Not Pin It?