Sunday, 9 October 2011

Walk on by.......

As I've now learnt that one needs to exercise 6...yes 6....times a week in middle age, if one is to remain fit and fabulous, I'm now attempting two yoga classes a week and have taken up walking. Living in London, or I'm sure any city, this is very easy. I don't have a car and I live close to tubes and buses and shops and stuff. I can walk to two cinemas, a theatre, a swimming pool, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys, M&S, an art gallery, my yoga class, the bank and Ottolenghi's in under 15 minutes so I know I can always knock off the half hour minimum recommended but now, any journey I reckon I can walk within half an hour or so of home I'm walking. Weather permitting. And all ready I can see the benefits. And it's easy, just open the front door and put one foot in front of the!

However, in the country, walking is much harder. You can't just go for a walk. A walk is a carefully constructed exercise involving time, planning and kit. For starters you have to drive to the walk which must involve a view and/or monument, preferably both, and can be half an hour or more in a car. You must have a minimum of 3 adults, 2 children, 1 dog, Wellingtons, hats, suncream and a cagoule. You need snacks and bottles of water and a backpack to carry the snacks and bottles of water. You must preferably walk in sun-stroke-inducing heat, pouring rain or bitterly cold winds. If you can get pouring rain and bitterly cold it's best to then walk a coastal hill path for the full experience. Immediately after completing the walk you must go to either a pub (if in sun-stroke-inducing heat) or a homemade cafe (pouring rain and/or bitterly cold wind) and either drink cold beer by the pint and eat an entire block of cheddar normally used to feed a family of four for a week by yourself (the pub) or drink large mugs of sweet hot chocolate and eat flapjack by the pound (the cafe) and talk about the walk.
'What a view?'
'Wasn't it?'
'Yes wasn't it....would be...... if it weren't raining.'
'Must have walked for an hour.'
'Two at least.'
'Did one for two and a half last week.'
'Did you?'
'Nearly three.'
'And the children love it.'
'They do. So good for them.'
'Absolutely, have to carry them most of the way of course, but they'll sleep well to night.'
'Oh yes ...... all that air.'
'Oh the air and that view......'

I went for a walk to Shoreditch to get my haircut. By myself. No kit. Thirty five brisk minutes. I saw an old man through a window with his feet in a bowl of water watching TV, a tall black guy wearing a giant hat on top of his giant hair leading a tiny dog, and a young man in a van drive into and then over a set of traffic lights on the Hackney Road............. it's the simple things in life....

Top tip: If you haven't seen it yet, get to a cinema near you for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and see Gary Oldman leading an utterly brilliant cast being brilliant ......fabulous on every level.


  1. I love walking in the city, it just becomes part of your life, you way of being, of getting around.

    Your description of THE WALK in the country is perfect - the walk become a project rather, something to master rather than the simple glorious act of putting on some shoes, walking out the door and seeing what gets presented!

  2. I do love a brisk walk into town, the countryside scares me something silly.
    Your description is perfect, as usual.
    Loved TTSS, it more than equals the 1979 TV drama although Colin Firth's jumbo cord trench coat stole the show. x

  3. Six times a week. Oy. I'm lucky to live in a city and be able to walk or bicycle to work. I do a country run on the weekends, but that involves driving to a trail and being outfitted. I've added TTSS to my netflix queue.

  4. I'm sorry; I beg to differ with your opinion. A 30 minute walk is to be avoided, UNLESS it ends up in a Pub or a cafe or a restaurant, otherwise, what's the point?

    But I agree with the requirements of getting kitted-up and preparing for a country walk. Did you forget to mention the essential hip-flask of Laphroig (or Sloe Gin for the ladies)?

  5. We walk in the countryside and in the city (Sheffield) I love both. Your description of country walking is very accurate. XXX

  6. I realized this weekend that I've become an emotional eater. +10lbs, -10lbs. This yo-yo's driving me nuts.

    and I'm in the mood for some cake. perfect.

    I think I should walk it off...

  7. Oh how I love this...... those who live in the country are so precious about how much better it is and how thankful that they are out of the city. Each to their own I guess but, a walk is a walk wherever it is and one gets the same benefits in the city ( with a little window shopping on the way !!)
    .....but, you are now putting me to shame ! I know that, at my age, I should be doing more exercise. We are a little like Diane above. Living in the suburbs of London, we do a little country walking ( although, not serious country !) and, within 20 minutes, we are in the City and can spend many hours walking around ( with a few stops for coffee and, later on, wine !!) A good combination I think. XXXX

  8. Loved TTSS too.
    Used to love to walk in Town: you can indeed walk with purpose! However I now live in the country where walks are conducted for exercise or the soul(or both!)since there's nowhere much to go.. and I'm lucky enough to be able to walk without a drive and with no kit unless you count appropriate footwear and the obligatory mobile.

  9. I like to walk. But not carry children. Therefore I tend to sit on the sofa and watch myself get larger.

    Six times a week you say? #startsplanningownfuneral

    Ali x

  10. And this is why I don't walk or bike ride. Bike riding is much more exercise. Not only do you have to bring all the junk, but.... halfway through the walk you have to carry the bike that the 4 year old no longer wants to ride. That is a total workout!

  11. I loved the book and can't wait to see the film.
    It is sunny and warm today so I am off for one of my daily walks to pick apples. We are planning a cider press this weekend and we are woefully short of the very ingredient we need.
    I wish you'd write a book. Your blogs are never enough.