Creating connections through walking
For Gordon walking is a great way of exploring his local area and meeting new people
I was born in Scotland after my parents came to the UK in the early 1960s from Hong Kong. We lived in various places up and down the country. Now, aged 54 I’m a business owner and Bournemouth is the place where I’ve settled with my wife Angela. It’s the place where I’ve lived the longest and it’s the place I truly call home. Home is different to where you live. Home means much more. It’s where you feel safe and comfortable and where you feel you belong. Having grown up as part of an immigrant family it took me a long time to feel at home.
Exploring Dorset’s Jurassic Coast with family and friends
In my earlier life walking wasn’t a big thing for me, but I’m slowly learning to love it. The countryside around Bournemouth, such as the New Forest, is fairly flat. Recently I’ve been discovering West Dorset with its beautiful and more challenging Jurassic Coast. I want to do more walks there. We take easy to follow coastal routes such as from Swanage to Durlston Castle. But we’ve also started to explore mapped routes in areas we don’t know. In the past I might have worried I needed a compass to do this, but Google maps makes life so much easier.
Walking is of course about wellbeing because it’s a form of exercise. But I enjoy walking as a way of spending time with my wife or with friends and enjoying what we see. It took me a while when I moved to Bournemouth to appreciate how great it was to live by the beach. It’s great to spend one or two hours away from the TV; away from your phone; away from social media; away from work. Just rambling chats with your friends on all kinds of topics. Now I really appreciate having the coast on my doorstep to visit, whether in the height of summer or the depths of winter.
I feel very aware that that the countryside is predominantly white. But actually, cities can be very confrontational in terms of ethnicity and I feel less concerned in the countryside. I was born here in the UK. I’m British. My lifestyle is more English and European than Chinese. I’ve faced racism before so if you half expect it and it happens, then you’re ready for it. But it’s not going to stop me going to places.
Making new connections through walking
I love meeting people, making new friends and helping others connect. And that’s why I stepped forward to embrace people who move to the area by organising welcome walks. The first walk I set up was less of a walk, more of a pub crawl! People who didn’t know each other met on that walk and have become good friends. Those people encouraged me to do more walks. When you’re walking your energy levels are up and you can talk more freely. I get great satisfaction out of seeing the connections people make.
Dissatisfied with staring at screens all day, Emma challenged herself to a walk around Britain’s coast. After four-hundred-plus days, she shared her story.
Nick looks back at discovering walking in the countryside, the lack of diversity in the outdoors, and his passion to make sure his kids enjoy the countryside.