In practically all of his writing, James Herriot – author, vet, fabulous person – talks about how privileged he was to have had easy access to nature. As a country veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales in 1930s England, he was steeped in it.
We don’t have rolling hills or sprawling fells in Singapore but we do have gems like Pulau Ubin.
A couple of weeks ago, Marc and I hopped onto a bumboat and allowed ourselves to have our day dictated by the little island’s vibe.
When I stepped off the boat and onto the jetty on the other side, James Herriot’s words rang true, “There was a clarity in the air, a sense of space and airiness that made me feel I had shed something on the plain, twenty miles behind. The confinement of the city, the grime, the smoke – already they seemed to be falling away from me.” (If Only They Could Talk)
We rented bicycles and pedalled about with a plan, an agenda or hope that we would squeeze a PR proposal out of the jaunt. The less we tried, the more we saw. The clear blue afternoon sky and the sun glistening on the mangroves; the beautiful Chek Jawa eco-system; wild pigs scavenging for food on the beach (and looking quite relaxed about it, too).
We spied a DIY cardboard sign at the start of an off-road trail that read, “Cold Drink Here” (with accompanying arrow to indicate direction) and pushed our bicycles to the top of the trail. We were greeted by a middle-aged man tinkering with an engine, an elderly lady, a big brown dog, a large tabby cat and a huge drinks cooler. We bought a 100 Plus each.
We stayed on the island as long as we could, eventually catching the sunset and one of the last boats back to the mainland.
We might not be in James Herriot country, but there is still the great Singapore outside that everyone ought to step into as often as possible.
PS: It was reported today (Monday 28 October 2013) that Lou Reed has died. We’ll always remember him for reminding legions of fans to walk on the wild side and savour all that life has to offer. So, what are you waiting for?