By: Blonde Two

With UK lock down upon us I am pleased to report that here, in my tiny corner of Devon (the bit I can see from my home office window), everybody is taking their responsibilities to society very seriously and practising excellent social distancing. It is very quiet and still, apart from the birds who are having a marvellous spring but I have noticed something rather lovely happening. I have seen small family groups out walking together and exploring our local environment. Many of these are obviously exploring either for the first time or in new ways, I have seen maps, scooters, collecting bags and a lot of smiling faces, all enjoying the green space near me.

They (and we) are lucky because, despite being in a very urban environment, we have some fantastic outdoor space right on our doorsteps. We have a copse (with badgers and foxes) just up the road, some exciting alleys to explore and plenty of sets of steps to get the heart pumping (we are at the top of a big hill). If we wander the lanes with our eyes wide enough open we can find wild garlic (ramsons), three-cornered leek, alexanders and nettles to forage. If we want to do a bit of tree spotting we have cedars, hawthorn, lime and oak (to name a few). If we keep our ears open we can hear creaking branches, woodpeckers and sometimes even the sea. I have long been an advocate for local green spaces, their simple convenience encourages us to step outside and gives us the opportunity to explore with minimal environmental impact. How pleasing then that our parks, allotments, woods and even cemeteries are now being explored by new feet.

The government would like us, at the moment, to take our daily allocation of exercise from our own front doors. I have listed some useful urban exploration tools below but this is the perfect time just to walk, explore and discover. If you have always wondered what is up that alley, wanted to see if you can run up those steps or thought about finding out what that tree with funny leaves is, now is the time. With only one opportunity to Get Outside each day, why not really make it count. Take your pick from the list below or try them all. We would love to hear about your #onceaday #GetOutside adventures.

Copyright Ordnance Survey 2020

Find your house on a map

Dig out your paper Ordnance Survey maps – Find your town, find your house, see what’s around. If you don’t know what a map symbol means, check the legend or, even better, walk to the spot and find out. Green things on maps usually represent green things on the ground, blue things are often water!

Identify a tree

Download a tree identification app and name your local trees – The pavement outside our house is home to a gingko biloba tree, which has lovely shaped leaves and is called a ‘living fossil’ because it is such an ancient species.

Sing like a bird

Find out who is singing in your trees – We all love bird song (except perhaps at 4 a.m. in our tents) but how good are you at identifying your local avians? I regularly hear robins, great tits, tawny owls and wood pigeons outside my window but there is a whole unidentified gang out there.

Rise with the dawn

Find out what time sunrise and sunset are and plan your daily outing for one of those. Take a compass to check whether or not they are setting/rising in the west/east and a camera to share your results with the world. You could also investigate the sunrise and sunset times for your family around the world and swap photos and stories with them.

Visit your nearest green space

Find your local green spaces with OS Maps. We Blondes love mapping and both use the OS Maps app regularly. You don’t need to subscribe to get access to Ordnance Survey’s Greenspace layer and it will show you all kinds of nearby outdoor spaces. Remember that some of these may currently be closed to help with social distancing, and we recommend choosing a time when other people are less likely to be about (although perhaps not a cemetery at midnight)!

Stay safe

It looks as though we are all in for a rough ride but, as Benjamin Franklin once famously said, ‘Out of adversity comes opportunity’. The British spirit is strong here in Devon and I suspect it is the same where you live. If, during your daily exercise, you take this small straw of opportunity to explore your really-local area, you might find a few things out that keep you smiling through the troubles.


Stay safe… stay inside… Get Outside (just enough)