Friday, 11 February 2011

Gut instinct.

I haven't forgotten you Kate, from new Zealand, you asked a question on the Castleton post, which I am happy to answer. You said, 'Dont I ever worry about walking alone? I presume you are thinking about my safety, because some of the places I go are quite isolated.

This is something which rarely crosses my mind, because the chances of meeting someone out on the hills, who is mentally deranged, is quite minimal. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I think I have more chance of being attacked walking around a city centre, or even my own town centre.

I have spent many years working with men, so I am a bit worldly wise. I can usually spot the warning signs when I meet someone who may not be as nice as they make out. I have a little voice inside my head, which gives me plenty of warning to scarper. In psychology they talk about fight or flight, well I do not fight. Before it gets to that stage, I fly. I trust my gut instincts, if something seems not right, I don't give it a chance to develope, I am out of there.

Basically I don't trust anyone, especially strangers that I know nothing about. My guard is never dropped, when I am out walking I am always looking behind me as well as either side and in front. If I am in a remote area I might say hello to someone as we are passing, but I soon hurry on, and always look behind to check that they are still walking in the opposite direction.

I will talk to people if I feel they are safe to talk to, like the man doing the wood carving, he was at his place of work, which was also his home. I knew he wasn't going to drag me inside. I spoke to the National Trust man while he was supervising the helicopter landing, I felt he was ok because he was working, and the helicopter came back every five minutes. I trust my own judgement.

Years ago, hitching lifts was part of my job, I delivered new vehicles. I hitched to where they were, picked them up, delivered them, and hitched back. In the three years I was doing that I only had to do a runner just once. The guy was weird, I said I needed to go behind the hedge, as soon as he stopped I was out and legged it across a field.

I take sensible precautions and don't leave myself in a vulnerable position. I am not too keen on walking through woods, a bit spooky, I try and walk round them. I always look for my escape route, just in case of an emergency, something I learnt when driving. You should always be aware of your surroundings, and know where your exit route is.

Besides, I value my freedom to roam, and no one is going to stop me. I prefer to stay in this country because I feel vulnerable if I am surrounded by people speaking a language which I don't understand. I also feel vulnerable without a map, so I take one every time. I need to know where I am at all times.

Kate, you might be asking me this question because of the possibility that I may fall, and there will be no one around to help me. All I can say about that is I carry a phone, not much good when there is no signal though, and I am very carefull not to take chances. I try to minimise the risk by knowing my capabilities, not trying anything daft, and to retreat when I feel the terrain is too dificult.

I remember some years ago the story of a female climber who fell to her death on K2. The media tore her apart for attempting the climb, and leaving her young children. They said she should have put them first and cancelled the trip. Everyone has their own reasons for doing things, it is not up to others to say how anyone should live their life. She knew the risks and she decided to take them, one human being taking responsibility for their own life. The children were brought up by their father, and possibly had a better life than a lot of children from broken homes. I remember several years later that he took them to the exact spot where their mother fell

So there you have it, I hope I have put my thoughts clearly. Maybe I have just been lucky that nothing bad has happened to me.

14 comments:

  1. Ilona I wholeheartedly agree with you on this. I used to do lots of lone walking in that area as well, before the price of petrol made me think about driving 35 miles & back just to do a little walk! I was always aware of people but talked to people at the same time. I will not be intimidated into only going out with someone else - I mean, what use is a timid female to me anyway? I have no-one nearby who would want to take part in my own little forays anyway, they are all too eager to get into their cars to drive the 7 minute walk to the shops! The more women are lulled into insecurity by the media, the worse for our sex.

    on your penultimate paragraph, people criticised Jane Thomas? for doing all that Iron Man stuff when she was suffering terminal cancer. A work colleague told me she should be spending time with her children! I think the children would remember their mum better for the heroic efforts she put in before she finally did die.

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  2. I should have said "re your penultimate paragraph" as it is someone else altogether i refer to.

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  3. i walk alone, or just me and the kids, i remember goign to turkey a few years back and a woman there saidi was so brave to be there alone with the kids, infact it never crossed my mind, dont see why i need a man next to me to be abel to do anything, like you I take some precautions etc, but i dont want tol et being alone stop me from doing anything

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  4. You only live once and as long as you take care of yourself and don't be reckless you should be able to go out and about and enjoy life :-)

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  5. Great advice Ilona:) Have a great weekend. Linda xx

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  6. I agree with you, I used to do long trips up the hills and always trusted my instinct. I always stay alert especially too whats behind me and walk with confidence.Actually I went to the market this morning and bought a pack like the one you carry when out walking, very pleased as it cost me $5.00 and I will be able to carry a small water bottle, keys, and phone. Thanks for the tip, see your knowledge goes around the world and helps others.

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  7. Hope I didn't put the wrong idea into your head it was just that I was thinking of your safety. I live in a coastal town in New Zealand and I don't feel safe walking down the streets in the middle of the day let alone walk by myself out in the country. I felt safer walking in the middle of the red light district in Tokyo with my self and husband and son at 2am in the morning. It is a sad world that we live in when you can't feel safe anymore. Also I love your blog and thanks a million for taking the time to answer my question.

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  8. That's another good point, Aunty Bee, walk with confidence. Body language does come into it, thanks for reminding me. If you stride along with a purpose would be attackers might think twice if you look confident. The last thing they want is someone screaming their head off. If you appear nervous this leaves you vulnerable and makes you an easy target. I will add another note here, I don't carry a weapon because it could be used against me.

    A little bag attached to your body is a good idea. I have a rucksack on my back with spare waterproofs, gloves, food and drink. Sometimes I use the bumbag as well, especially if I have taken my jacket off and want to keep my phone and camera ready to use. It's a good idea to have a money belt under your clotes next to your body.

    Kate, your question is one that I have been asked many times, you just reminded me that it was a suitable topic for discussion, thank you.

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  9. I'm like you Ilona, I feel far happier in the middle of nowhere than I do in town or city. I think there are far more nutters to bump into in the city than you'd ever find in the countryside. I'm also very happy in woods or forests, as if you do see anyone it's easier to blend in and disappear into the greenery and not be seen at all, a number of times people have walked right past me and not even known I was there! I'm facinated, Kate from New Zealand, why you are so afraid of walking down your street in the middle of the day, is it really that scary over there? I always thought of New Zealand as being one of the gentler places of the world.

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  10. You cant go wrong with gut instinct and common sense x

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  11. I'm sad to say No New Zealand is not the safe country that everyone makes it out to be. Our laws here are more leniant on the criminal than on the victim. For example my son doesn't like to go out side much he has a medical condition and so he decided he would walk home from the shops we dropped him off it was 4pm when he started the 15 min walk. He was about half way home when someone came up behind him and pinched his hat and told him to hand over his money and shoes and also his i pod. My son turned around and the guy took one look at my son and then took off. My son is 120kg and is 6ft4in and is a gentle as a giant. So for someone that hadn't left the house for over a year it was very scary and we are now back at square one with him not leaving the house anymore.

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  12. Interesting post Ilona. I have always walked my dogs across the fields, often alone. Sometimes I wonder if this is wise, but whats the alternative? stay inside, scared to leave the house unless accompanied? Like you, I choose to live my life to the full, take precautions where I can and just enjoy myself. In 10 years, I only once felt uncomfortable, in our last neighbourhood, when 2 men made my warning bells ring. I just back tracked onto the road and walked the long way round. I'd like to think 2 dogs might be a deterrent.

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  13. Such a great post. I have thought about your safety too while reading about your adventures. I think women need to listen to that still small voice that is usually accurate. If someone seems off, they probably are. Glad you are street smart, so many women lack this.

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  14. This is such an interesting post Ilona, and something that I never even thought about. You see I always assume I am safe. That's not to say that I dont take precautions when uot and about on my own - and I do have the warning bells in my head in certain situations, however, I have always gone exactly where I want and when I want and sometimes on my own, and sometimes in foreign countries too and I can only say that statistically you are more likely to be safe (given all the normal precautions a woman would take when on her own) than otherwise. So long as you are sensible and are not reckless it is unlikely anything bad will happen to you. The world is not a more dangerous place than it used to be, it's just our perception of it has changed, due I think to the increased coverage in the media. I do sympathise with the lady from New Zealand, one incident can cause you to see danger at every turn. My son is now 21 and has had his fair share of bullying and being picked on etc... as well as a long time of not going out. Nowadays I watch him go out the door and he assumes a 'confident gait' like an overcoat that he wears when he goes out, he exudes the persona of being a 'streetwise youth'... He told me an old lady ran away from him once shouting at him that she had her phone with her and would call for help... he was about to ask her if she was ok because he thought she looked ill... (I think she saw him coming and jsut panicked because they were alone in a lonely alleyway).. the incident really upset him... but It was all down to the vibes he was unconsciously giving off.

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