Exploring your surroundings

I’ve been really enjoying exploring recently. We moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme (in the Midlands, not the Newcastle in North East England that most people know!) in December 2015 and although it’s not far from where I grew up in the Staffordshire Moorlands it’s not an area I knew well. We live walking distance from the town centre and I go into town most days, usually for the gym or to a supermarket or to get a bus to the train station in Stoke-on-Trent. When I have a bit more time, I like to take slightly different routes to explore the area. I don’t usually plan things out – I just see where I feel like walking and go for it.

Today I was walking back from a class at the gym and decided to pop into Sainsbury’s (which is a part of town I don’t often go to and has some lovely views over the countryside to the west). Rather than take my usual walk home, I took a slightly different route. I had a vague idea where it would take me but wasn’t sure if I might hit a dead end. Fortunately, I hit something much better than that – the ruins from the castle the town was named after! I didn’t even realise there were ruins (to be fair there’s not much!). Thanks to lottery funding there are plaques with information which include artist impressions, key dates, and historic maps to show where the castle was and the land that previously was under the lake that surrounded the castle (we still have Lyme Brook but this was a lake previously).

I then walked a different way through one of the parks nearby and spotted that the community garden is now producing vegetables that can be picked. You can pick your own carrots, onions, and cabbages, and there is other produce that will be ready in the next few weeks. This is a local community project that you can get involved in, either by volunteering time or materials, if you wish.

I learnt a lot about the history of the area and appreciated the community spirit of the area all from taking a slightly different route back from the supermarket! My Dad (who has lived in the area for 60 years!) has recently started joining organised walking groups and has discovered lots of new places and routes that he didn’t realise were there.

It has reminded me that all too often we miss a lot of our surroundings because we always take the same routes and look out for the same things, and it’s nice to slow down, be creative, and appreciate what’s around us.