And a warm welcome from Bournemouth, a ‘once desolate heath — now home to famous sequoias, cedars and cypresses’.
I am lucky to live beside the sea for so many reasons. Here’s one: the infinite horizon of the ocean means that, even on the gloomiest of winter days, I still see sunshine, if only for a moment.
In the precious minutes after the sun has risen from the waves, before she disappears into the thickening clouds, the sunlight hits the beach through a band of clear sky, far, far away.
And I start the day secure in the knowledge that, no matter what shit goes down today, there is always somewhere the sun is ringing strong through cloudless skies.
I’m aware that this intro might be bloody annoying for anyone living between tower blocks, where the horizon is manmade and sunrise is artificially delayed, sometimes, in winter, for hours. Sorry!
Maybe climb that tower or find a river flowing east? Or use ShadeMap to find your own local bright spot.
Failing all, take solace in the knowledge that a video of an awesome sunrise can give your brain a tiny dose of the good vibrations of nature.
Yesterday afternoon, I had an errand to run a half hour drive out of town. Looking at the map, I realised that I could leave early and catch sunset in the New Forest.
I parked in Frogham and walked out along Hampton Ridge to the trig point, where I watched the sun set over Blissford, Chilly Hill, Long Bottom and Burnt Balls.
Don’t you just love Forest names?
I was only there for about an hour, but this most micro of microadventures gave me an idea for wintering.
There are forty-seven trig points in the New Forest National Park, twenty-two of which are beautifully photogenic pillars.
My idea is simple: watch twenty-two sunsets in the Forest this winter, one from each of its pillars.
My winters are usually spent sheltering from the darkness, bathed in electric light. By celebrating sundown, I hope to keep up a strong connection to the outdoors, discover beautiful new places — and maybe even sleep better.
As I mentioned last week, I suspect I might be one of the ten percent of people who especially benefit from spending more time outdoors at dusk.
I’m generally an early-to-bed-early-to-rise kinda person, and I know it’s only a single data point, but after my hour in the Forest at sunset yesterday I slept until 8.30am.
I awoke astonished, but rested. Hallelujah to more of that feeling, please.
Winter Forest Sunsets: 1/22