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    Oh, the Places We’ll Go! Being Active in Times of Corona

    From our daily walk to beer o'clock via Zoom: Has the past year brought us closer to nature or driven us further into a virtual world? A column by Anna Cummins.

    There is a hut at the top of our local National Trust property. You climb the uneven steps of the quarry garden and follow the trail through the trees along the rock top until you reach a secluded perch. It is locked, of course, in these times of the coronavirus, but we have found a clear patch in the stained glass door. My daughter takes the top step, I the bottom, and together we peer into the tiny space with its little table and chairs, wood burner and bunk bed overlooking the hills that surround.

    Needless to say, we have been there countless times in the past 12 months. In summer, the light reflected in the colourful glass reminded me of sun-drenched terraces, lush green meadows and cool blue lakes. In winter, I could almost hear the crackling fire, smell the freshly baked bread and taste the warming wine. And, no matter the season, I would always turn to my daughter on the way back down and say: “When all of this is over, we will go on a hut-to-hut adventure in Austria.”

    Travelling Then, Now – And In the Future

    I am not an outdoorsy type by nature. One of my most distinct memories of travelling to Austria is arriving at the foot of a mountain sooner than expected and having minutes to alight the minibus with my most essential items for the night. Why I chose to embark on an uphill hike carrying a wash bag is beyond me, but it seemed important to show up at breakfast smelling fresh at the time.

    The essentials would look quite different at present: face mask, hand gel and phone, because social media posts would be the closest anyone would come to registering my freshness levels now. And how lucky we have been to have had the digital tools to share experiences with those outside of our bubble throughout the past year - even if the height of adventure has been overcoming the need for a public toilet on our daily walk (within five miles from home, of course). But the next time we are able to travel, I defy you to FaceTime your folks from the summit, share beer o’clock on Instagram, or arrange a holiday Zoom. I want real people there with me, #nofilter, without interrupted connections and buttons to mute.

    Selfie on the top of Zugspitze mountain
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    The next time we are able to travel, I defy you to FaceTime your folks from the summit, share beer o’clock on Instagram, or arrange a holiday Zoom. I want real people there with me, #nofilter, without interrupted connections and buttons to mute.

    Anna Cummins
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    Anna Cummins

    How Is It Affecting Children?

    Having a five-year-old, the park has been our go-to throughout the repeated lockdowns. The speed with which new friendships are formed on a see-saw and the joy of bumping into familiar faces have kept us going, given us a reason to leave the house, and taken a chunk out of days on which you had forgotten how time flies when having an actual face-to-face conversation.

    But how has the pandemic affected other age groups, such as teens, whom lockdown seems to have driven into a world of sleeping throughout the day and gaming with virtual friends by night? Will they want to get back on the football pitch once this is over, hit the dance floor at a club, and plan a gap year, or have they already connected with someone in each continent, realised their moves will never go viral, and learned that feelings are easier to manage with emojis?

    Kids with dog
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    So Much Time, So Many Plans

    Across the generations, the past months have taught us a lot about time. Had you asked me a year ago about my plans for the weekend, I would have rolled off a schedule, but today this is a question we tend to avoid.

    And yet, come Monday there is a lot I could tell you about. Be it the hidden trail we had not yet spotted that led to a maze, covered in mud. Or the man I pass halfway up the hill on my run every morning, mapping the same path along the dark streets with his walking stick, and now greet. It takes me back to that mountain in Austria, where time seemed to stand still. And I hear Dr. Seuss whisper: “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”¹

    Anna Cummins

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    Anna Cummins

    Born in England and raised in Germany, Anna enjoyed working for the Austrian National Tourist Office London for eight years. Throughout this time she was able to travel to many parts of Austria and discover the great variety that it offers. Anna left London for the Sussex countryside in 2018. Now freelance, she still enjoys translating content about Austria for a number of clients.

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