Q: Why this, why now?
A: During the Covid 19 pandemic, many of us have slowed down and discovered the natural world – be that the garden, local green spaces or staycations in stunning landscapes. It makes sense to build on this and encourage these connections to become permanent features of our lives. Being in the great outdoors is a great stress-buster and is brilliant for our physical and mental health.
Q: Who is behind My Great Outdoors?
A: Sue Cassell has put together the website, drawing on her experience of working for the National Trust, the Youth Hostels Association and the Natural Environment Research Council. Sue has also volunteered with the Ramblers and with the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Susan doesn’t own a car and relies on walking and public transport to get around.
Q: Who took the photos for the website?
A: Many of the photos are taken by Sue. Others are from Pixabay.
Q: What does this website provide me with?
A: Hopefully, information, ideas and inspiration for spending more time in the great outdoors, and getting a better quality experience from your time outdoors. There are some planning tools to help you prioritise your time each week and each quarter, so that time in the great outdoors isn’t jeopardised when you are faced with the day-to-day realities of work, chores, child/elder care, and so on.
Q: What if my child/ren aren’t keen on going outdoors?
A: I can relate to this, as my son loves TV and computer games/videos. I don’t force it, but I try to make outdoor trips fun and with a purpose – eg feeding the ducks, and harvesting potatoes on the veg plot. I also arrange for him to meet friends outdoors. During the summer holidays, I asked him to suggest a trip out – he suggested Hereford and we went there by train and bus. We had some outdoor time there and we enjoyed the grounds of the cathedral and a riverside cafe. I see nurturing a love of the outdoors as a ‘long game’ – over time, children tend to absorb the values and practices of the adults who care for them.
Q: I live in a big city – where can I go?
A: Our big cities have some brilliant places for getting that ‘great outdoors’ experience. I grew up in south London and I’ve recently been back to walk the Thames Path and to enjoy the canal paths around Little Venice (Paddington). The parks are fabulous as are the open spaces of Hamstead Heath and Epping Forest. I’ve yet to explore the green spaces of Birmingham, but I’m looking forward to visiting Martineau Gardens and walking along some of the canal paths through the city.
Q: What is the geographical scope of My Great Outdoors?
A: Primarily, the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). Also, some overseas destinations that can be reached without flying (Ireland, and some of mainland Europe).