Being a holiday, albeit a strange one, we walk a little longer today (still in our neighbourhood). We are lucky that Wellington, surrounded by hills and sitting on a beautiful harbour, has walking options past the city streets. Wherever you look you can see green, probably why I like living here as much as in Sheffield, the greenest city in Europe (it has the most green space within its boundary).
A brisk ten minute walk (it’s a little chilly) takes us to Mt Victoria. It’s a long way from a mountain, more a hill, and not a very high one at that. It’s part of the town belt, a stretch of land forming a horseshoe shape around the city, set aside for public recreation in 1873. A land where Hobbits trod (if you’ve seen the first movie, the scene where the Hobbits hide beneath a tree from the Black Riders was filmed here), it’s now a land where people walk their dogs and stay two metres away from anyone they meet. Good job the paths are, for the most part, wide.
It’s quite a climb, Neil slowing to not leave me too far behind, but nice to be away from buildings for a while. Usually a popular spot with tourists – being a good place to survey the whole of Wellington – I’ve never seen it so quiet, deserted almost, the coaches that normally line the car park at the top a long way from returning. It’s a sombre reminder that, even if we do come out of lockdown within a few weeks, it will be a long time before we return to the normal of a couple of months ago. Is it really only that long? It feels so much longer than that.
I’m used to walking for hours on mountainsides, up hills, through forests. Why then, within an hour of walking here, do I feel something is missing because I can’t pick up a takeaway coffee on the way home? Maybe it’s the tarmac under my feet, the fact that I usually only walk on it for a short distance and it involves a coffee (or ice cream, alas also unavailable)? Maybe it’s the lack of a pack on my back? Maybe if I put that on I would condition my brain to walk farther and not notice the lack of coffee? But I might then get asked why I need to wear it when I’m only walking around my own neighbourhood. Ah, these new challenges in my life!