Certain age? Aren’t we all. Six ideas to get outside more (beyond the screens)

“You’re approaching a certain age,” a kind and diplomatic person said on the phone recently. As that, ahem, milestone approaches, here are six ideas (notes to self) to get outside more often… way beyond the screens.

Much as I enjoy working, do I want to spend hour upon hour hunched over these here screens? No thanks. So as part of my health and fitness targets (what are yours?) I aim to try out a new physical activity… or revisit something I’ve not done for a while… every month, more or less.

Some, inevitably, may be one-offs, others will perhaps become more regular habits for me (family and friends too). Here goes…

1. Horse-riding:

Perhaps it’s the influence of the black horses on those poster ads, that repeat of Shrek I saw lately, or the pull of Poldark.

In any case, I’m keen to try out horse-riding again. On a gentle, biddable pony please…

As for recommendations, a cousin in Essex knows one end of a horse from another; then there’s extended family in East Sussex too.

(At a get-together there a while back, one of the children asked that Paddy the horse stop looking at him. Fair enough.)

A return visit to the New Forest, where I went pony-trekking a few years back, might be on the cards…

2. Bouldering:

For the pedants among us, it’s true that bouldering often happens inside.

When visiting a client recently I noticed that there’s a new bouldering centre near Wandle Park in Croydon. (Here’s a blog I wrote about the area.)

As for outdoor options, and 170 miles north in the Peak District, Pure Outdoor runs a 1-day bouldering course as well as rock-climbing taster sessions.

3. Outdoor swimming:

Swimming in the sea… what a fantastic feeling.

Whether in Brighton, Folkestone, or Port Talbot with a view of the steelworks, sea swims bring back happy memories. (I’m remembering to forget the initial shock to the system.)

I’ve just recalled swimming in that lake in Germany too.

All the more reason to take the plunge again soon.

There’s always the lido. London Fields in Hackney is heated; Tooting if you prefer it bracing.

4. Kayaking:

Stand-up paddle boarding seems to be a thing now. (Often with a dog on the board too? Or perhaps that’s an urban myth.)

Hounds, the great outdoors and standing up are all fine things, but that doesn’t appeal much. I am, of course, prepared to be proved wrong…

Trying out kayaking is another thing. A writer friend has recommended sea kayaking in Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight. Other options include Dover Sea Sports Centre (with a view of the cross-Channel ferries and next to the new pier).

Closer to south London, it seems there are quite a few canoe clubs too.

5. Two-day walk:

A friend (she of the Hackney lido) took a month off a while back, spending much of it in the great outdoors amid the lochs and hills of Scotland.

That’s something to aim for… As is completing the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

But in the meantime, doing part of a walk such as the South Downs Way, between Winchester and Eastbourne, is a pretty good compromise.

I’ll also be very happy with a long hike on Dartmoor, followed by a pint of Guinness perhaps, when I visit friends who are moving nearby.

How about the beach, any beach, on a blustery day in winter? Grand!

6. Trees’ company:

I’ve been meaning to get to Penge Green Gym for I don’t know how long. I never seem to be free on Wednesday afternoon.

(Perhaps it’s a Wednesday thing. There was that film, also on a mercredi, that I never got round to seeing when I lived in France.)

Have you heard about the 30 Nov tree-planting drive to combat climate change? Search #EveryTreeCounts online to find out more.

The Conservation Volunteers website has a detailed listing of events, including Green Gyms, near you.

You/I can also try RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust and the Marine Conservation Society.

Chances are there are posts on your  local Facebook forum, for instance Penge Tourist Board, asking for gardening volunteers.

Good Gym is another option too.


Will I do all of that in the next year or so? Probably not, but at least some of it.

Other plans include taking a personal-trainer course to develop my skills and knowledge.

(I now have a “Beyond the Screens” website page too, along with a #BMBeyondtheScreens set of postcards coming soon. The last edition, #bmcreativeplaces, is shown above. Here’s a blog about #PortesdePenge, the first set.)

So yes, useful and enjoyable as the screens can be, there’s plenty of life beyond them.

On my own, with family and friends (not to mention the family doggos) and whatever the weather, I can’t wait to get out there amongst it.

(DarkWorkX, LUM3N, corinna-kr, PublicDomainPictures,
MabelAmber, AlexanderStein on Pixabay.
Beach and boots screenshots from Instagram.)

*How do you keep active beyond the screens?
Please add a comment below.
I’ll be sure to respond.*

14 comments on “Certain age? Aren’t we all. Six ideas to get outside more (beyond the screens)

  1. Marianne Stoneman on

    Lovely piece of writing Brian, full of inspiring ideas and elevating photos. Can’t wait to get out into the wonderful outdoors!

  2. Mike Ellis on

    One has to take care not to rush into things, gentle starts & slowly build up to more. Maybe a regular gym visit to help prepare for the outdoor activities. Great piece of writing.

  3. Gary on

    Think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the variety of activities: great to discover hidden talents or find a new interest. Doesn’t matter how old or young you are. A neighbour of ‘a certain age’ took up tap dancing!

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks a lot for your comment Gary. Yes, variety can’t be a bad thing… Great to hear about the tap dancing – sounds like fun!

  4. Joey Abbott on

    Great piece of writing young Brian! Yes it’s so good for the soul to be outdoors, even if bracing. Will ponder over your ideas for sure. My mother’s just taken up bridge (nearly 82), most inspiring eh?!

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks a lot for your comment Joey. You’re right, it’s such a tonic to be outside in the elements. Your mother taking up bridge in her early 80s: good stuff!

  5. Sarah Houghton on

    You are so right Brian.
    We all need a weekly screen detox these days to keep sane and stay connected.
    Your suggestions for how to spend screen-free time made me think of my preferences.
    I love time amongst the trees – getting out in nature, listening to the birds and feeling the sun on the back of my hands. Nothing better.

  6. Maureen Kennedy on

    Great write-up Brian and beautiful pictures. They inspire me to get out and take in some of our country’s beautiful scenery.
    Still trying to build up the courage to try out the outdoor swimming at Beckenham Place Park.
    Penge Green Gym do some amazing work and like yourself I have been unable to get there for such a long time. We all get caught up in our busy schedules and forget we have some great local projects around us.

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks a lot for your comment Maureen. I’ve heard a lot about the revamp of Beckenham Place Park but haven’t seen it for myself – yet.
      Outdoor swimming can take a bit of (self-)persuasion, I agree!
      Penge Green Gym? Their ears will be burning…

  7. Brian McGee on

    Thanks a lot for your comment Sarah. Being amongst trees is always hard to beat. And yes, birdsong too. There’s a tree near me where sparrows, I think, gather for a natter. Walking near it is always a tonic (as they might say in Ireland).

  8. Carolyn Davies on

    I love the idea of a two-day walk. Some friends of mine go on walking trips, and book overnight accommodation between planned walks. Such a wonderful idea.

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks a lot for your comment Carolyn. Yes a two-day walk sounds manageable to arrange… Hope to get to it soon! Who knows, it may lead on to a longer walking trip.


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