Day adventures in Thetford Forest

Hi everyone, we hope you are keeping safe and well? We are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has grounded all our travel plans and adventures for the foreseeable future. As it continues, we find ourselves wondering daily what it means for the rest of year. Having already lost (or rather rescheduled) our Vietnam trip, our second trip has just been cancelled. This Thursday coming we should have been fleeing south after work for a late Eurotunnel crossing, heading to Colmar, France and then into Switzerland for May Half term and our 5th wedding anniversary. The mountains will still be there and when it is safe to visit we will, so although we feel sad, we are still thankful that we and our family remain well. Eurotunnel have given us a voucher valid for a year, so as soon as we get the green light we can make the trip that we have looked forward to so much.

This week in England, lockdown restrictions eased a touch, and whilst the message is still clear that this is far from over, we are now allowed to go for longer and unlimited exercise and travel to do so. We are now allowed to picnic and sit in the park in the sun. The message changed from Stay at Home to Stay Alert. It took us by surprise – we would have been happy to have a full lockdown for another couple of weeks, and we felt disappointed at first that this would encourage people to be irresponsible and therefore bring a new peak. This, I believe, triggered a wobbly week for us both. We both struggled through the week and after a stressful trip to Morrison’s on Friday followed by a stressful walk on the way home we both realised that we were struggling being out of our bubble at home. I think we’d become or were starting to become institutionalised perhaps. We decided we needed to try and push ourselves to get out a bit further than 15 mins from our house- Keith has only been out of the village twice to Diss and then he stayed in the van. I’ve been to Tesco each week – a 15 min drive. It was taking its toll.

I picked a spot just 25 mins from our house- but one weirdly we’ve not been to before. I made a quiche, scotch eggs and we gathered some tasty treats into Ruby’s fridge. We felt a bit nervous about once again leaving our bubble – but this time we were taking our bubble with us. We have a loo, water, soap, food and drink and shelter in the form our trusty little campervan.

We arrived at St Helens Picnic site in Santon Downham, part of Thetford forest, just after midday. The car parking was busy but we found a space easily and although there were plenty of people about, everyone was social distancing. The main difference was the space. There was tons of it. We checked the fridge was on and set off on a 5 mile walk.

As soon as we left the car park and got onto our trail head, we saw only 3 other people the entire way round. The space felt huge and the fact we hadn’t walked that trail before was liberating. Each step we took felt like one step closer to feeling ourselves again. By the end of the walk we wondered if actually the government easing the rules slightly was to aid our mental health. (This is not an invitation to start a political debate – it’s just how we felt in the moment)

After our walk, we’d built up an appetite. We had planned to eat lunch in Ruby, but the sun had come out and there was an inviting glade right next to the river. We loaded up the picnic basket which lives in Ruby, grabbed a blanket and a chair and bagged the private glade. Whilst we could hear others doing the same, we couldn’t see anyone – the space was huge. We set ourselves out facing the river, tucked in and again felt the stress sweeping out of our bones. We watched the ducks as they built their nest, waved at several kayakers paddling by and we even grabbed an unscheduled nap each.

We retreated back to Ruby for a cup of tea and an eclair – why does tea made on the gas hob in Ruby always taste better? We sat and pretending we were camping for half an hour before packing up and driving home. We’d driven 16 miles each way but we had crossed the border into Suffolk, not had a panic attack and felt like we’d had a mini break. It felt like a huge achievement.

I feel guilty for not coping so well. We have it easy really. We have a roof over our heads, we’re healthy- we don’t work on the front line, although my mum does and I worry about that constantly. We have a garden, we have Netflix and all the other channels you could hope for. We are managing to do some work so don’t have financial worries. All we’ve been done is been asked to stay at home, but when you’re used to being free and doing as you please it feels hard at times. I have to keep reminding myself that actually it’s ok to not be ok. Our friend sent me this poem the other day when I admitted on Facebook we’d had a wobbly week.

It’s OK to have good days.
It’s OK to have bad days.
It’s OK to cry about absolutely nothing.
It’s OK to cry about absolutely everything.
It’s OK to find this hard even if you know there are other people in much worse situations that you. This is not a competition.
It’s OK to feel frustrated.
It’s OK to feel anxious.
It’s OK to feel scared.
It’s OK to feel.

I didn’t start this post with the intention of sharing all this info, it was to share our happy day yesterday and the joy of being out in Ruby- but when I write these blogs I write from the heart so this is what I’ve ended up with. I nearly amended it but as it’s Mental Health awareness week next week, perhaps it’s rather fitting.

We hope you are keeping safe and well, we’re going to continue to take each day as it comes- I’m sure there will be more wobbly days ahead and when they do come we will remember that as the sun goes down it signals that it’s nearly the start of a new day tomorrow.

Until next time


2 thoughts on “Day adventures in Thetford Forest

  1. That’s a lovely post and I’m pleased you both had a relaxing day. Although we’re still in ‘stay at home’ lockdown here on Anglesey, we do have a few walks from the door, so our dog gets some new smells to sniff at and we get a leg stretch! All the beaches and car parks here are still closed and we really miss our daily forest and beach walk at Newborough. Still, we remain healthy and we have the garden ……and cake!
    Don’t feel bad about having a dark day; when that happens we just find our own space and ride it out. We’ve had meals in our campervan on the drive and I’ve been looking at places to visit in France when we can travel again.
    BTW, the picnic looked delicious!


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