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 other..........bingo!
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?'
'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.'
'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.