Rossendale Free Press

Combat festive stress with dose of the great outdoors

- SEAN WOOD

ALTHOUGH I’m looking more and more like the chunky guy dressed in red these days, minus the red nose and big belly of course, it has to be said that I’ve never been a big fan of Christmas.

Oh sure I’ve got stuck in with friends and family, the band and the rugby club and had some amazing times.

And as my figure attests, we have eaten some quite outstandin­g food, drunk too much, sang through the night, got paid for it and woke up sore.

Part of the ‘joy?’

Well yes and no.

It is the relentless build-up, these days from September, which destroys my inner peace: the songs and the ads designed to beguile children and adults alike to spend money they may not have and thereby putting pressure on so many people and, dare I say it, for what ‘they’ claim, will make your Christmas perfect.

Quite literally, I’m not buying it and although I can hear the ‘bah humbug’ comments burning my ears, here is my advice for a sublime 25th and don’t worry, it can still include chocolate and, if you are that way inclined, the little guy dressed in swaddling clothes can play his part, even with a School Nativity on Zoom.

Just make sure, if you can, to turn off the TV, get outdoors and breathe in the fresh air.

It is a recognised

‘thing’ and you can actually be prescribed outdoor exercise these days.

It can soothe the soul and uplift the mind in a way that I’ve been banging on about for 40 years. There will be some who cannot get out and about, but there is always Sir David Attenborou­gh on the TV and the power of dreams.

I have been lucky enough to spend two Christmas Days on the Algarve and one in the far west of Ireland, the most stress-free Yuletides ever.

Azure-winged magpies in the former and gannets for company in the latter.

For many years I’ve had a longing to be on my own in a small Atlanticfa­cing cottage in Connemara on Christmas Day but it has never actually happened yet.

It was close this time around, as I had ‘permission’ from Joanie’s girls and the nod from my own three, to clear off.

However, Covid stomped all over the plans and Top Mossley it was, cooking away in a happy house.

Every cloud and all that, but next year watch this space. Then out of the blue, as a wonderful early gift, I was given the all-clear by Tameside

Police to travel to our Scottish hideaway.

It seems that, as a writer and journalist my work is deemed ‘essential’, and just in case, for north of the border, I took a letter from my Group Editor and several copies of my work and of course an assurance that I was not visiting Specsavers.

The officer I spoke to said, ‘ Yes I know your work, and it’s good for peoples’ morale’.

I’ll take that, I thought. The simple things in life, and you make your own luck.

Was on my own, saw no-one, went to one shop and did 40,000 steps in four days.

Best of all I found

Palnakie a tiny and ancient port on the River Urr, which meanders out into the Solway Firth.

Logs used to arrive from Canada, but not any more as the port is silted up badly.

I kind of fell in love with the place, not least for the Glen Isle pub which was open, but mostly because of the Quetzal Trading Company, their hand painted and quite resplenden­t quetzal is among the world’s most colourful birds, more normally found in the mountainou­s, tropical forests of Central America.

As for the company they describe themselves as… Sail-Powered

Philanthro­py.

A collective of earth mindful individual­s seeking positive change through sail-powered spiritual adventure and ecological­ly and socially responsibl­e trade.

I told you I felt at home.

 ??  ?? ●● Sean’s adventures took him to Palnakie, a working port in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
●● Sean’s adventures took him to Palnakie, a working port in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
 ?? Sean.wood @talk21.com ??
Sean.wood @talk21.com

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