I found myself thinking about Wales recently. You might remember this is where I escaped to carry out a digital detox last year, getting away from the internet for several days in order to clear my head and escape from the constant pressure of always-on connectivity.*
Going through my writing from this time was a good reminder of the things I wanted to incorporate into my life to help reduce stress and increase wellbeing. Some were easier to do than others: increase reading for pleasure, adopt healthy eating (plus a bit of chocolate), and designing greeting cards as a bit of creation are all still works in progress, but are actually progressing bit by bit.
Others lessons, such as walking, had fallen by the wayside. However, it’s never too late to start again, and a recent charity shop purchase was enough to propel MrElaineous and me out of bed early on a gorgeous spring morning and rack up a few miles in the nearby countryside.
There are 140,000 miles (!) of public rights of way in the UK—footpaths, bridleways, and byways—and the ones near the Wiltshire village of Holt take you through some of the prettiest countryside and working landscapes. Skirting fields and taking in wildflowers was a lovely change of pace from concrete and litter, and we also hit the livestock trifecta: horses, sheep, and cows, all of which keep you on your toes while crossing pastures and dodging droppings. For example, there was a quintet of sheep that trotted after us for several minutes, cows that looked like they stepped out of a Disney cartoon, and horses that seemed to be engaging in a spot of surreal comedy. The end of the walk took us near Great Chalfield Manor, a lovely building and garden situated along the river. Although not open on the day we visited, it’s definitely on the list to return to.
As I was working on this blog post, a rather familiar Welsh place name caught my attention in the daily Metro: Staylittle, the off-grid village we stayed at during the detox, has now been connected to 3G and 4G. While I completely understand the desire of the villagers to fully enter the 21st century, I admit to feeling a bit sad that it’s no longer off-grid. Perhaps it’s time to start searching for a new bolthole for when there’s a need to escape being bound by the world wide web?
* According to David Rock in the brilliant Your Brain at Work, research shows that the distraction of constant technological connections and information bombardment can affect the mind as much as losing a night of sleep.