Saturday, 2 March 2019

Through the Arched Window

View from Virgin Train
I'm giving my age away a bit now, but I was always most excited by the arched window on Play School.  The journeys through the windows were always entertaining and educational, although I do recall lots of visits to milk bottling factories for some reason, and I'm sure we all learned loads.

These days windows are largely ignored.  I regularly take trains all over the country and most of the time folks have their faces in their phones while the landscape outside slips past unnoticed.  Travelling from A to B has become a chore to be done in the quickest time possible while the journey itself is simply an inconvenience.

View from train leaving Grange-over-Sands
Time really is money when it comes to travel; I recently took the train from Grange-over-Sands to Carlisle and was told it was cheaper for me to get a ticket which came back around the coast (which took much longer, covered more miles and, presumably therefore, required more driver's time and diesel) than it was for me to come back on the quick train via Lancaster.

I also regularly find myself working in offices with very little or no natural light, often buried deep in a basement and although I may find a day of that irritating, for me it's just a day, there are plenty of people who are working in those environments, disconnected from the outside, for 40 hours a week.  Of course sometimes I'm lucky enough to enjoy magnificent views, like this photo from a work project in Bahrain.  To be honest, now I think about it, maybe it is less distracting to be stuck in a basement...

Then there are the cheap hotels (of which I have stayed in many!) that will charge extra for a room with a window.  I recently booked a stay in an Easy Hotel which was £30 for a room without a window and £39.99 for a room with one.  I did wrestle with my conscience on that one because I splashed out for the window even though it was dark when I arrived so the curtains were drawn and the window was locked so it offered no means of escape in the event of a fire.  I find it hard to justify logically, I just needed a window to peek out of briefly the next morning.

And lets not forget cars which these days come with built in screens for the kids in the back to plug in, slap on the headphones and disappear into a virtual world of films or games.  When I was a kid we played all sorts of games on journeys (which were usually by bus as we didn't have a car) - counting cows, rearranging the number plates on cars to make new words or just generally looking at what was going on outside.  Whenever we took the bus from Birmingam to Coventry for a day out I always remember looking out for the archers in Meriden who were often out practising.  I also remember the excitement of watching the NEC being built - yes, I am indeed old!

But why on earth does all this matter?  I worry that people are becoming more and more disconnected from the outdoors when, even through an office window in the heart of the city, there are things to see - cloud formations, historical buildings or even a local tree or two to chart the passing of the seasons.  And I'm not knocking Virgin Trains onboard entertainment, but there are no films that can compete with a couple of hours of unadulterated British countryside.  Even Northern Rail, although their service is inexcusably abysmal, run trains through some of the most spectacular scenery in the British Isles.  The tickets may be overpriced but the views are free.

We're losing the art of gazing out of a window, we're forcing our minds to be active the entire time; playing apps, reading emails, catching up on spreadsheets and that's not good for our mental health or creativity. The greatest thinkers did just that, they thought.  The found time to let their minds drift and because of that great discoveries were made and fantastic works of art created.

In an attempt to fight back against the tide of screen staring I am declaring 19th March 2019, to be National "Look out of the Window Day" and would love you to join me by sharing photos through your window on social media using #ThroughMyWindow My plan is to try and flood social media with fantastic images and encourage more people to look out of the window and enjoy the view.

(Please note, I am encouraging you to look OUT of your own window not go peering into your neighbours windows taking photos!) 😀

To join in just share a photo on Twitter or Instagram add #ThroughMyWindow and tag me in @CumbrianRambler then we can all share and enjoy some wonderful scenery.  (You don't even have to wait until 19th March - we can start doing this today!)

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