I love being outside, whatever the weather. I don’t care whether it’s the snap of the cold breeze against my cheek that I can feel, or the rain soaking through to my skin or the heat of the sunshine beating down against my skin. I just love it all.
I love the freedom that comes from being outside, I strive for the moments that allow me to step away from the confines of the city. I love swapping horizons lined with sky rises for open moors, the sound of car horns for the gentle buzz of wildlife and the smell of fumes for fresh air. As I get further away from it all I can feel the layers of stress easing away from me as if it was the city holding it all tightly around my heart all along. I feel wild, free and as though I can breathe for the first time in forever.
The countryside fills my body with the feeling that I can do and achieve anything, from the tips of my toes to the roots of the hair on my head I feel strong and as though I can fulfill expectations that had previously only seemed to be far-off dreams. The whistle of the wind in the trees, the falling leaves, the snap of a twig as an animal runs over it, all of it leaves me with nothing but happiness.
Maybe it’s the child in me that means I still love these things so much or maybe it’s just a part of who I am but I love the endless opportunities that the outside world poses to me. A concrete jungle may be paradise for some but for me it is the woods, gloomy moors, quiet beaches and cultivated farmland that call out to me and make me feel at home. With my backpack on, a notepad and pen safely stored within it and with my camera in my hand, I feel ready for anything that nature is ready to throw at me. I feel ready to take it all in, soak it up and note it down, prepared to capture it without really taking anything at all. It makes me feel human and inhuman all at once; I am made to realise just how small I really am against the backdrop of the world and yet given the courage to believe I am big enough to make my dreams come true all at the same time. It is this careful contradiction that pulls me back into nature time and time again. The idea that nature will be here long after I am gone with the simultaneous feeling that I am allowed to step in and appreciate it is one that I am addicted to and wherever I go I am drawn to reigniting this feeling.
While I find these moments on a regular basis, on walks that I take and drives on which I stop off to appreciate the view from the side of the road, some places stick in my heart and have me dreaming of heading back to that very place from the instant that I leave. In August this year I found that feeling in the form of the New Forest. With its many acres of beach landscapes, forested areas and open heather moors it gave me everything I needed in one condensed area. And then it made it heaven by providing me with free roaming ponies, donkeys and cows. With my camera and my friends beside me, I crept through the undergrowth, tiptoed across the roads and hid behind trees as I took in the beauty of the world. Stepping into the New Forest made me feel as though I had stepped into another world, one that was still steeped in ancient times; it is an area that lacks the large scale infrastructure that most of our planet is now home to and as a result it feels as though it is a part of the land that time forgot to modernise.
And I am 100% ok with it remaining that way. During our visit I felt at peace as a pony felt comfortable enough with me to come close enough that I could have reached out and stroked him, I was left in awe as a mother let me snap away at her young foal and for the entire afternoon I did nothing but click away on my camera and smile. These are the moments that a city can never match up to.
It is a simple fact that when I am surrounded by nature I am happiest and the feeling of complete cohesion between humans and horses in the New Forest drew me in, captivated me and made me fall in love with the world all over again. There is beauty in seeing a relationship that works well and as we drove through spotting the different herds of horses I couldn’t help but think that this is how the world is meant to work. These animals are wild and free, just as I am when I step away from the concrete jungle and that is how it should be. They roam through the towns and villages and return back to the moors and the forests when they want to, just as I move between the town I call home, the countryside that surrounds it and the city that I go to university in.
More so than normal, my trip to the New Forest left me at peace as it showed me that not all is wrong in the world and it proved to me that humans and nature can still sit comfortably side by side, even if the news sometimes tells us otherwise. It showed me that while the world may have rapidly changed in recent years, while it may have scary aspects and may have advanced at an unprecedented rate, not everything has kept up – some things have lagged behind in their own perfect way.