Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time watching sheep. I know that sounds strange, so let me explain…
I’ve always been a city girl at heart. I love the people, the buildings, the culture, the vibe; going to bars, cafes, and restaurants; and attending the opera, the orchestra, and the ballet.
Recently, however, my husband and I have discovered a wonderful new pastime: walking the public footpaths of the English countryside. As an American accustomed to fences, private property, and “no trespassing” signs, I was completely taken aback by the concept of the public footpath—in essence, it’s a right-of-way that lets you stroll through the fields, pastures, and meadows that belong to someone else (how amazing is that?).
The paths are so numerous (and extensive) that books and websites feature scores of walking routes on them, in virtually every part of the country. I imagine one could traverse most of England via footpaths, bridleways, and country lanes.
Anyway, back to the sheep…These footpaths often take you through the very pastures where sheep or cows are grazing. Until a few weeks ago, I’d never been on the same side of the fence as a farm animal, so it’s been quite a novelty to “hang out” with them. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I’d never had the opportunity to ramble through farmland, skip through meadows, or lounge in wide, grassy fields enjoying picturesque views over rivers and valleys.
I’m still a city girl, but one who’s falling in love with the peace, quiet, and idyllic atmosphere of the country…
This past weekend, my husband and I drove out to Cornwall in Southwest Britain. We hiked along dramatic seaside cliffs, picnicked in gorgeous spots overlooking the Atlantic, discovered secluded beaches, explored ancient ruins, encountered wild ponies, and yes, spent a good amount of time watching sheep. It’s my new favorite minimalist activity.