In what has become a monthly lockdown tradition I once again joined The Loiterers Resistance Movement (remotely) for July's First Sunday stroll. For reports on previous month's walks see here and here. This month's outing took the form of a "metaphysical treasure hunt" with participants receiving walking instructions to their phones via WhatsApp or Twitter. The walk began at 2pm and instructions were sent out at ten minute intervals resulting in a 100+ minute synchronised but geographically dispersed group walk.
Living as I do in the Stone Age, I don't own, nor have I ever owned a smartphone so it was with some dismay that I learnt that one would be necessary to take part. After trying and failing to rouse the other Walkspace members to join me and grant me access through their superior hardware, Loiterer in Chief Morag took pity and agreed to let me join in via SMS.
Taking part in a walk like this grants you license to slow down and really tune into your local environment in a way that you're unlikely to on a self-guided walk. Usually I have a destination in mind when I leave the house and I tend to rush through the immediate neighbourhood on the way to places less familiar. On a First Sunday walk however there is no "familiar". The discovery begins the moment I step foot outside with the first instruction:
1. Let's start with something light. Look for the brightest yellow thing you can find.
2. Now let's play street cribbage. Find a playing card or something with a link (hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds, jokers or queens perhaps?)
I spot the heart immediately on looking up from my phone so decide to coast for the rest of the ten minutes. Towards the end however I spot another heart and a playing card shaped label with a possible reference to Alice's nemesis the Queen of Hearts:
3. Look Down at the flotsam and jetsom. What are traces and rubbish trying to tell you?
A screwdriver and a clove of garlic… a makeshift vampire defence kit?
Then a hedge trimmer heralds the reopening of hairdressers and a discarded roach indicates that wild strawberry season is upon us:
4. Now look up… hunt for UFOs or signs of extra-terrestrial life.
5. Stop! You've wandered onto a film set. What's the story? Where's the drama? Can you spot the cameras or any glitches that reveal it's all made up?
6. Let's go back to nature. Follow the local flora and fauna. What can non-human beings teach us about where we are?
7. Hunt for patterns, regular, designed or coincidental.
8. What's the smallest interesting thing you can find…
… and the biggest?
9. Can you find evidence or rumour of the supernatural or mythological in your landscape? Do ghosts linger?
10. To end this wander please look for signs of hope and promises for the future. What do you want to happen next?
I made my way back to the house with heightened senses and a renewed alertness to the fantastical eruptions of the familiar. It was in this state that I spotted for the first time a Top Cat figurine upon a satellite dish above the premises of TopSat Digital. I must've walked past it a hundred times before completely oblivious.