Monday Meditation : A Stroll Along Sustrans Bike Trail 55

29401840_UnknownIn my recent post, Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine – Paint a Rock & Give a Smile to Someone Who Needs It! I briefly mentioned our woodland walk along the Sustrans* bike track to the canal, where we found the painted rock that made me smile when I was in a lot of pain. I promised another post with the photos I took along the walk. As I always keep my promises, here it is!

First, though, let me explain to non-cycling enthusiasts and readers from outside the UK that Sustrans is a charity that has spent 40 years promoting cycling and walking, whilst constructing a national network of safe bike and walking trails. Recently, we got our own section which runs along the route of a disused railway line. It is easily accessible from several points and family-friendly. Whenever our families visit, they all toddle off on their bikes together, often the only way to separate the teenagers from their screens.

My husband, a serious bike rider, found it particularly useful after his accidents when he was trying to regain both his fitness and his confidence before rejoining club rides on the roads.

I have never seen it before as I don’t cycle (back injury), but one afternoon when my husband had spent most of the day repairing bikes and I was itching to go somewhere, he suggested we drive to one of the access points and walk a short part of the trail.

It was so quiet and peaceful. The tall trees, many of them silver birch, some oak and elm, shaded us from the sun that came out after we had wrapped ourselves up against the chilly breeze and possible showers forecast!

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We met a few people along the way: couples walking their (small) dogs (always on a lead), a couple of cyclists, but mostly we were on our own.

Here are some of the photos I took on our walk:

 

29401712_UnknownI amused myself spotting the wildflowers I used to tick off in my iSpy books as a child  – do you remember those? Rosebay willowherb, giant willowherb, cow parsley, red campion, elder berries… We don’t see as many now so it was especially surprising to come across a single red clover, I haven’t seen red clover in decades, the white variety seems to have taken over.

 

This though, remains a mystery:

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They reminded me of Muscari or Grape Hyacinth but I can’t identify them. The odd thing is, I’ve never seen them before and then a few days later on a completely separate walk, I saw another solitary group.

Eventually, we came to the towpath along the canal, where my back gave in and I found the smiley rock. The mature trees and all the vegetation alongside the sedately-moving barges made for a tranquil setting, with the sun streaming through the branches and reflecting on the still (if a tad murky) water.

I took a few photos of the boats and then slowly – very slowly! – inched my way to the pub nearby to rest, while my husband went to retrieve the car. Despite my over-enthusiasm leading to several days’ bedrest, I had a wonderful afternoon out, meditating on nature, childhood games and family outings.

 

This is how they used to do it in the olden days:

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And this is my favourite:

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Oh, and the smiley rock? Here’s where I hid it, good luck!

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 *Sustrans

Ps It’s my brother’s birthday today. I can’t imagine him as an aging hippy! It will be my dad’s birthday in a few days. He would have loved this walk, he loved boats too.  I thought of him alongside me, and all the walks we did together and wondered if he was still playing the pied piper leading groups of children in Follow My Leader, with his mischievous smile playing on his face as did a skip or a funny walk.

See: Sweetpeas For Dave

You Were So Much More Than Your Job: A Tribute to My Dad For Father’s Day

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine – Paint a Rock & Give a Smile to Someone Who Needs It!

 B4B53D6F-9C92-4C30-920B-75FB1D18287AMany of you know that I have a long-term back problem, but perhaps not how serious it is. The warmer weather helps and today we ventured out for a walk along the former railway line, now turned Sustrans bike track. Unfortunately, I was enjoying myself so much that I pushed my body too far and my back seized up by the side of the canal where I had wanted to look at the brightly-coloured barges. I was in a bit of a pickle and knew I couldn’t turn around and go back, nor could I see a bench to perch on while I worked out how get out of this predicament.

I was wondering how on earth I would make it back to the car when I looked up and saw on a ledge a small rock painted with the words: ‘Staffs Smilesstones, please share a pic on FB then rehide me’ with the name of the family who had put it there. It did indeed make me smile, it was such a surprise, sitting there at my eyeline, waiting for me to look up and smile.

This smile and its subsequent break into laughter helped me relax enough to make it to where I needed to go – a nearby pub where I waited while my husband walked back to fetch the car.

When I got back home, and after a few hours’ rest, I looked up Staffs Smilestones and they have a page on Facebook, full of photos of young children with painted stones and cute happy faces, finding and re-hiding the rocks all over Staffordshire for the pure joy of giving someone a smile. I joined their group and will be painting my own rocks very soon.

I am sitting here with a heat pad on my back, having taken some Arnica and smoothed on some Arnica cream, about to go to bed, but wanted to share this story with you.

Here’s a calming photo of a barge drifting along the canal for your Friday night meditation 💜 I love the reflections in the water.

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I’ll be writing a fuller post with lots of photos of our walk when I’m up to it. Oh, and we didn’t get lost!

This story was first shared on Terry’s blog

Copyright: Chris McGowan