These are horrible times for my country, Malta. A widely read blogger who had been exposing corruption and wrongdoings in high places was cruelly assassinated to shut her up forever, and the national trauma caused by this outrage was shamefully tempered by expressions of “she asked for it” and even glee by various specimens of lowlife that, to my disgust, share my nationality. Nine days later, we can still hardly think of or discuss anything else. I still can’t come to terms with the atrocity.

To seek some peace of mind, I set off to Groenendaal, a section of forest at the edge of Hoeilaart, close to my adoptive home in Overijse, Belgium. Here, I would go for a walk as recommended by my good surgeon, who told me that I should avoid sitting down for any long period of time and go for frequent walks.

Next to the parking area, there was a map marked with two walking routes. The blue route was 11 km long. I chose the shorter green loop, 6 km. It’s a path in a section of the forest close to where a motorway and a national road intersect. Picturesque, but noisy.

Closer to the heart of the forest, the sound of traffic fades away. There’s a notice that explains that from that point onward nature is allowed to grow wild without human intervention except for dead or diseased trees or fallen trunks blocking the path – walking in strong winds is strongly discouraged, and no one will accept liability for falling dead branches, so watch out.

This was the best part of the walk. I was all alone completely surrounded by the autumn green, yellow, gold and brown, the sound of my footsteps crunching on a carpet of dried leaves, soon to grow thicker and softer as more dried leaves rained down around me.

It was so beautiful.

I stopped to rest after the 2 km mark and again at 4 km, coming back to my car after close to 2 hours with my peace of mind temporarily restored and my legs happily tired and proud of the successful completion of the workout.