I love country walks. Escaping the noise and pollution of town and enjoying the fresh air and beauty of the English countryside makes me feel happy and relaxed. Unfortunately I don’t get the chance to venture into the countryside very often as my children’s difficulties make it hard for us to get out. Many people don’t realise that besides the social and communication difficulties associated with autism and aspergers, there can also be physical difficulties that can make walking difficult. My son and daughter are only mildly affected in that they don’t require specialist pushchairs to get around. Nevertheless, they do find walking difficult at times. Weak muscles, poor balance and coordination, clumsiness, poor stamina and anxiety make walking tiring and painful for them. If we do walk anywhere, we often find that one or both of our children have to rest or lean on something, such is their fatigue and discomfort. Sometimes, our son refuses to walk at all and it has been known for us to spend ages coaxing (or bribing) him to move. We’ve now learned to take a snack and drink with us whenever we go out should we have one of these tricky moments!
We don’t give up encouraging them outdoors though as we feel it’s good for them to get fresh air and to see our lovely countryside, even if it does take us ages to move. So whenever they are in a receptive mood we encourage them out though we usually make sure our walk is short and has something to interest them. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t.
A few days ago we succeeded in getting out and enjoyed a family walk along our local canal where I came across this lovely spot, looking towards a flight of locks. There are only about five or six locks in this flight and the gradient is very gentle but it is a popular spot for local people to walk and to enjoy the surrounding countryside and activity on the canal. For children, the barges and the locks offer a lot of interest though when we visited it was very quiet mainly due to it being a bitterly cold winter’s day. As you can see from the photo, it was a beautifully sunny and clear day with not a cloud in the sky. Nevertheless, It was so cold that the canal was frozen in parts which entertained my children for a while as they bounced stones across the ice. After I took this picture we continued with our walk, passing some more locks and a pretty lock-keepers cottage until we reached a row of barges stationary in the ice. By that point, even though we were wrapped up, we were starting to really feel the cold so we returned to our car and headed off for hot chocolates in a local cafe. A lovely end to a beautiful winter walk.
(This post is part of Photo Project 52, a photography challenge where we post a picture every week in 2012. Click here to see all my other entries.)