Simple Pleasures Photo Competition

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Written by Theresa Kewell

The colder mornings that have nipped my fingers the last couple of days have given way to a milder one here this morning. It's grey and overcast but I won't let that dampen my enthusiasm to see what nature's up to today!

'Simple pleasures, easily found' is all about inspiring more people into the outdoors more often. We've been having a reminisce about our childhoods and the things we enjoyed about being outside. Feeling the sun warm on your face, rolling down grassy banks, making dens, and for me, one summer treading out and running round a maze in a patch of tall rose bay willowherb that was taller than I was! I'm sure you can think of many you did yourself.

Leapfrog

Our research shows that more than 50% of us don't get into the outdoors at least once a week and Scottish Natural Heritage would like that to change. For 2012 we've set up the 'take time out with nature challenge'. It challenges everyone to at least one visit or more to the outdoors every week for a whole year! 

We don't mind where or when you go so long as you go. It could be you detour through your local park on your way to the shops or to work or when dropping or collecting the children from school. It could be making a conscious effort to take a walk at lunch time if you work.  Turn it into a social occasion and invite a friend or colleague along for company.

Women Walking

You could go for a brisk walk for the exercise or to stress bust; a stroll to just enjoy your surroundings; or set yourself missions to accomplish such as to find a park you've never been to before, to count the trees in a particular street (we counted 70 in one just a few hundred metres long, I was amazed!) or to find something new about a green place you go to regularly. Keeping your eyes peeled, what will you notice that's different today compared to previous visits?

From the blog so far it seems you're a pretty committed bunch having taken on the step count challenge. Some are doing walks in some very picturesque and wild places. So congratulations to you, and to those who've made photo submissions so far! I think you'll be great candidates to take on the 'take time out with nature challenge' and that could help keep you motivated to continue your walking progress until at least March 2013!

There are some bag dangle book prizes in the photo competition that will help you on your way with the challenge as each contains enough activities (for adults of all ages) to keep you busy for a whole year and you should find you can do many of the activities time and time again and always find something different.

It would be really good to see some more photo examples of urban simple pleasures too. What's on your work's doorstep? Where's your favourite outdoor lunch time eating spot? Where do you go for your lunch time walk?

I'm lucky enough to be within a minute or two of the Forth and Clyde canal for my lunch time walk. There's several options of a short out and back route or a longer circuit that takes me round both canal banks depending on time available. These routes score more highly for me to a walk round the business park itself as I find the greenery a nicer and more interesting place to be. I found this leaf along there yesterday.  I'm a fan of skeleton leaves and this one was lying dry on the grass rather than being hidden under a bush where I might have expected more to find it.

Skeleton Leaf

It's been great watching my local patch change through the seasons too and watching the different wildlife changing and passing through. I took this pic of some toadstools I'd not seen before last October. They're parrot waxcaps apparently. I liked the toadstools even more when I knew their name!

Parrot Waxcaps

I noticed yesterday that the cherry blossom is out at the moment so that's looking promising for some snacking later in the summer. We have known there to be enough in some years to take a lunchbox full back to share in the staff kitchen. 

So, to celebrate simple pleasures, easily found and the nature on your doorstep, can I challenge you to take pictures of anything and everything that's happening in the natural world around you and tell us what your own simple pleasures, easily found are. To coin a phrase, perhaps you can find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Or, if you need more inspiration, have a look on our website

My final tip is to be led by your sense of fun and curiosity as well as your step count challenge and perhaps rediscover your inner child.  I think you'll see and discover so much more.

© 2014 Paths for All - Registered Scottish Charity No: SC025535, Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 inc. 19 Sept 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh