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What do we mean by the everyday?

The commonplace, the unlooked for, the unlooked at. The noticed or the unnoticed. Taken for granted or seen to the point of being unseen.

What is its opposite, converse?

The extraordinary, the unusual, the rare. The unexpected.

This is a record of a walk, a day, a place. It was a particular day, a particular walk in a particular place, but it could have been anywhere.

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An expectation of the unknown, a new walk for me. Early on a winter morning, a weekend in Norfolk, an area of the country I am getting to know, not home, not random. I have a reason to come here, family visits, a tenuous connection, an adopted belonging. Could it become my everyday? It is other people’s everyday – dog walkers, locals. Do they see what I see?

Setting off with a vague plan, not much chance of getting lost as the National Trust has waymarked a selection of routes. The advantage of this is to be free from any need to check the Ordnance Survey map. The only necessity is to choose left or right, the high road or the low road.

I am soon left behind by my companions as I pause, feel the stillness as we enter the woods, a drop in temperature, damp smell suddenly overpowering, leaf mould underfoot. Light levels constantly changing, falling as the path goes downhill.DSC00845

Looking back, a patch of weak sunlight catches that pervasive mist shrouding the towering trees.DSC00844

These are not wild woods, ‘Caroline’s Plantation’ on the map is a clue. A sawmill at the bottom of the hill means a wood earning its keep, managed. there are old trees though, and tangles of growth.DSC00847

The pines are my favourite, indicating sandy soil, heathland , often also seaside nearby.

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Here the landscape changes, can be read differently, more distinctive, less commonplace now as a habitat. Another set of dog walkers though, the everyday too for them.

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There is a rarity, once a commonplace. I would not have seen it or would have seen and not known. One of my companions is a local, is also an expert, with local knowledge. He sees the Dartford Warblers, once much more common, but, mainly because of the loss of habitat, now very rare. Small, brown, bobbing about, in and out of the bushes. They do not look particularly rare, exotic, unusual, out of the ordinary, but they are. I look at them in a different way now and yet they are the same.

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Dartford Warbler (Photo credit: Edwyn Anderton)

Back in the woods do I see more? Jewels in the darkness. The unexpected.

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In fact I had seen these already. I was looking for the unexpected anyway, wanting to take note, tune in to my surroundings, imbue the day with the special, heighten my awareness. Focus, experience, feel. The rarity was a bonus, my day was already special.

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