Week 31 - Tempting you outside in winter
As the seasons move forwards it can be harder to get outside once winter arrives along with its often miserable weather and short daylight hours. However it is well known that getting outside has many positive benefits such as reducing stress and combating illness, creating a positive outlook on life and helping us to think clearly. And all these have advantages for our environment. Not being ill means we are not pulling on medical resources, having a positive outlook on life and good thought processing capabilities helps us to make the right decisions which will help the environment.
But what if you are not an outdoor person. How can you be temped to step outside when your urge is to hide under the duvet and watch the latest box set on TV? Here are some ideas that might help.
7 winter outdoor activities
1. Go for a walk
Everybody grab your wet weather clothes, don your wellies and have a winter walk. See how many puddles you can jump in, embrace the cold wind in your face and don't be put Off by a bit of rain. It's only water after all. Take binoculars and try a bit of bird watching: many specie are easier to see now the trees are bare and at the coast wading bird numbers are boosted by birds that have migrated south from the frozen polar regions. If they can be outside in winter, why can't you?
2. Winter sport
Why not take up a winter outdoor sport (and I don't just mean skiing)? You can go cycling or running or take up football, rugby or hockey. And if you are not any good at playing sport then go and watch some. Why not head to the races or watch a yachting event. Sort of half way between a walk and a sport, geocaching combines map skills, walking and getting outdoors as you search for hidden "caches".
3. Have a go at making some natural art
Use nature as your palette. Don't think leaves, sticks, shells etc are materials just for children because they are not and if you doubt me, have a look at the work of artists such as Andy Goldsworthy for inspiration. Then head out and create your own ephemeral art. Alternatively collect natural materials for art projects back home or do maybe do some bark rubbings.
4. Gardens, Country Parks, Zoos
Don't think that gardeners ignore their patch in winter. Even if the ground is too wet or frozen to work there are still plenty of jobs to be done and plans to be made for the coming year. Some Open Gardens stay open all year round and can be wonderful to visit in winter when their form shows through with so much less colour to detract the eye. You could also visit your local country park or take a trip to your nearest zoo/open farm.
5. Take winter photographs
Mist hanging in the valley on a cold winter morning, frost glistening in the sunshine, the approach of a winter storm, icicles hanging from the roof, raindrops plopping into a puddle .... the subject material winter offers the photographer is only limited by your ability to get out there and look for inspiration.
6. Learn to identify winter trees
Trees are not just identified by their leaves - their shape, bark and buds all give clues to what species they are. The Woodland Trust has various ID charts you can use so why not make yourself a pro this winter at identifying all your local tree species?
7. Join a conservation volunteer group
I used to be a countryside officer for a local group and twice a week, all through the year, I went out with my trusty band of volunteers to help conserve and develop our local countryside in Kent. We planted trees, managed hedgerows, build footpath stiles, developed school nature areas and so much more besides. So you'll be doing yourself a packet of good getting outside whilst also directly helping your local environment. And someone will probably be able to help you learn more of those winter trees you've started to identify!
You may well also find that when you spend lots of time outside you are able to come home and set the heating just a tiny bit lower. Oh and don't forget: There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Wrap up warm and dry and enjoy winter from the other side of the duvet this year.
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