Walking the Walk

Authored by Tanvir Bush

This week we have a guest blog by author, photographer and researcher, Tanvir Bush. Although originally published online at Unbound.com, it seems particularly relevant to the Sensing Nature project and Tanvir was happy for us to share it here. 

On Sunday 24th September this year, Tanvir completed the Bath Skyline sponsored walk for Julian House Bath, an inspirational project tackling homelessness. This blog captures some of Tanvir’s training walks, which she describes as sending herself out into the wilderness on long loops around Corsham in Wiltshire. 

So, in Tanvir’s words…

Being severely sight impaired, I spend the first half an hour just getting myself out of the house. The first thing I have to do is deal with the images that my over sensitive imagination will chuck at me. It always starts with a very vivid mental picture of me walking into a broken branch at head height which plunges through my eye socket and into my brain leaving me impaled and horribly dead (and not found for a week).

Behind that image is the next; invariably a huge wasp’s nest that I am bound to knock as I am clambering over a stile which will cause me to run, screaming into the next field and the path of the extremely pissed off bull I haven’t seen that is now incensed by wasp stings.

I let the images bubble up and dissolve, reminding myself that the most dangerous things I have encountered so far on these solitary country walks are cow pats and thigh-high nettles and when my skittering heart is a little quieter I do a check; water, two pairs sunglasses (UV is a no no for my eye condition RP), hat, sultanas, small seceteurs for getting unstuck from brambles, phone, magnifying glasses and…cane. Oh and the keys…don’t forget the bloody house keys.

And I am out the house still thinking you can’t do this, your luck is going to run out, you are going to hurt yourself. Again, I just let the thoughts come and then they go...as long as I keep moving forward.

I get over the main road, over the railway bridge, out through a little wildlife area, through the housing estate and past the farm and whumph…I am out in the fields and the sky is wide and the grass is soft and spongy and there is no one else in sight.

This is where my usual hyper-vigilance and hyper-acusis comes into its own. In crowds, in towns and cities it is exhausting. People and traffic and concrete and chaos, constantly assessing ahead, analysing the situation, reworking the route inch by inch. But out in the open, I can slow right down. My cane becomes a tool, not to sweep ahead but to balance on, to swing while I sing, to test depths of swales and stiles and to slash at nettles and brambles with. (I must get a spare, this one has really been through the mill!)

I listen to bird song, trees shushing in the wind and the stream giggling and gurgling alongside me. I hear a deer alarm call and down my tunnel of sight spot the white flash as they leap into the thickets that line the fields. And I smell my route - there is cluster of trees near a farm that gives off the most gorgeous sandalwood scent. The farm itself is molasses, horse-manure and wood smoke. There is the orange-honey smell of wonderful bee-buzzing hedgerows. I pass farm-building works that smell of wet cement and kerosene and a little piggery where I share my sliced apple with gently grunting piglets and their mama.

There is some danger. I have had to crawl under fallen trees and over broken fences. One ditzy cow is very protective of her calf and when I see her I know I may need to run. I proudly sport blossoms of bruises on my shins and hips and I have had to fight off barbed wire and an occasional face full of bramble thorns. Part of the walk is on pavement less roads with high hedges and sharp curves. These I manage because the vehicles, even the ones driven by idiots, are intermittent and I can hear them approach and clamber onto the bank but I know I have been lucky.

These walks have been wonderful - frightening, exhilarating, empowering and although lonely, have given me time to think, muse and just be. I am always unsettled to squeeze my expanded life state back into my flat. I will miss them in the winter when it is too dark for me to risk walking alone.

I will have to try another adventure…parkour anyone?

Should you wish to sponsor Tanvir retrospectively, she has a joint sponsorship page available online at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alice-herve