As the Sustainably Creative forum is not currently open to new members, here’s an edited version of what I wrote there about tiny adventures for anyone striving to be adventurous within the limitations of illness:
(You can listen to the podcast by Michael Nobbs that started the ball rolling here).
Like Michael, I sometimes have a minimal picnic of a snack and a mug of tea made from a flask of boiling water in the car. For more adventurous outdoor eating you could buy a bucket barbecue and cook a snack on it, either out in the countryside, on the beach or just in your back garden. Thanks to Colour it Green for that idea.
Or perhaps a Kelly Kettle with cooking accessories would be more useful and easier to carry. A portable gas stove is heavier, but quicker and perhaps safer for garden-cooking or car-based adventures. If possible, practise outdoor cooking/tea-making in your garden before trying it out in the “wild”.
Keep things very simple. E.g. for breakfast outdoors just make a bacon or fried egg roll to eat with some fresh tomatoes. You could probably gently heat up sausage rolls in a frying pan – minimal preparation required, but fun to eat in the open air.
When we were teens my brother and I used to go to a place where the local river ran through a small wood and make a small fire on the gravelly bank. We’d toast cheap bread rolls from the village shop and ate them smeared with Dairylea cheese triangles. Utterly delicious – at least in memory. Obviously finding places to make campfires is more difficult nowadays, but if there’s somewhere suitable there’s really nothing to beat building a little fire to toast a bun.
Have the things you need to go adventuring ready to go when you feel like it. Fill a backpack with items such as a clean flannel for drying feet after an impromptu paddle, cutlery, a bottle of water, energy bars, cooking kit, matches, tea bags and mug, wipes to clean your hands and plastic bags for waste and foraged food. Something waterproof (and padded) for sitting on is also useful.
Keep a rug and a pillow in the car in case you need to bed down in it for a rest after adventuring. Always travel with plenty of water, emergency food and essential medications (don’t keep them in the car though, as they may be damaged by heat). I also keep wellies in the car and spare clothing.
If funds allow and your garden is suitable, you could buy a bivvy bag and camping mat so you can sleep out in your garden on really hot nights. If you have a guest-room, sleep there occasionally. Even sleeping with your head at the foot of your own bed makes sleeping and waking a slightly different experience.
Walk barefoot on the lawn in your garden or at the park at different times of day, in sunshine and shade, wet weather and dry. Sit on the grass and write down the names of all the flowers and plants that you can see in a square foot or square yard or whatever.
If there’s a downpour on a warm day go out in your garden and enjoy the sensation of getting deliberately and exultantly drenched to the skin (barefoot with light clothing is best for this). Then have a quick shower or bath and a brisk rub down to warm up before getting into bed. Drink a cup of hot tea and have a good nap.
Similarly, on a warm windy day, go outside and focus completely on the sensations of the wind on your skin, in your hair, ears. Listen to the noise it creates around you, think of where the particles of air and dust that you are breathing have come from. Watch the plants bending and swaying their wind-dances.
If you have a regular circular walk that you always walk clockwise, try walking it anti-clockwise or vice versa. In dry, warm weather find a place to lie down for a few minutes mid-walk. Look up at the sky or down at whatever is growing or crawling beneath you. If the conditions are safe, take off your shoes and feel the ground beneath your feet. Paddle whenever you can in streams or the sea.
When walking a footpath, step off it a little way to visit a rock, tree or flower that catches your eye. Collect pine cones to burn on the fire in winter. Just sitting watching a big resinous pine cone crackle and flame is an adventure and a reminder of the collecting time.
When you are out walking do you things that you might done when you were a child such as climbing on a wall, a fallen tree trunk or up a tree to get a different view of your surroundings. If the way ahead is clear and safe walk backwards for a few steps, or close your eyes and see how long you can continue walking. I can walk with eyes shut fairly confidently for about ten steps, then I start to slow down and after twenty or so increasingly tentative steps I have to open my eyes.
Go outside in the dark before bed to smell the night air and look at the sky, the moon, the stars. Observe how the moon lights up certain types of clouds. Watch how the tiny winking lights of an aircraft seem to move between the stars.
I can have an adventure just walking down to the compost bin and looking carefully to see what’s new. One morning last year I was so entranced by the sight of a yellow leaf caught in a spider’s web twirling gently in the breeze that I went and got my camera to video it. That leaf, trapped and twirled by unseen forces seemed to represent the way my life felt at that time. Like the leaf, I had to wait patiently until the wind and web let me go on my way.
If you like to stop and draw when you are out and about, try making a sound sketch instead (or as an addition to your drawing). Sit quietly and listen to your surroundings. Write down everything that you hear in your sketchbook. On grim days you can do this lying on your bed at home – it will connect you with the outside world.
Any deviation from your normal routines can feel like an adventure. Even such things as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand can be surprisingly interesting. If you always use the same car-park in town, try a different one. If there’s a different route from A to B, try taking it or simply cross the road and walk along the other side.
Routines can be extremely comforting, especially in times of stress, but they can also become restricting. A rut is a rut, even if it has a velvet lining. But you don’t have to leap straight from your rut to a white water raft to have an adventure – just peer over the side and have a look around. Then set off to explore whatever catches your eye. One thing will lead to another.
You can listen to Michael’s pre-recorded podcasts about his first tiny adventures starting here (click on the Daily Podcasts link to find the rest of the series). Keep listening next week to hear about what Michael has been doing whilst on holiday and his future plans.
My latest adventure was having my niece and her boyfriend stay overnight as part of their rather bigger adventure of cycling a personalised version of the South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne. I enjoyed their company very much, but was happy to get back into my bed after waving them off on the next stage of their journey.