Reflections on Walking

It was something Zoe said about reverting to child's perception of time, coupled with a conversation I had yesterday with the very kind massage therapist, gave rise to this blog post. I went to see the massage therapist at work, as recommended by my dishy osteopath. He has crunched my bones into submission, now it's time to tackle the knots between my shoulder blades. Apparently, normal people do not feel like they are carrying around a bag of new potatoes in between their shoulders. Who'd have thought eh?

The first thing I really learnt about children with Boy, is contrary to belief, they do not have a short attention span. Oh no. Small children can watch the same dvd to the point where you scream at the Postman Pat soundtrack.

That was just an aside to the point I am eventually getting to.

The massage therapist, asked me if I go on walks.

Oh yeah, she's not a massage therapist in the sense that she plays plinky plink music and has hot towels and a selection of nice smelling oils. She's a massage therapist that wants you to only uncover the bits that hurt, massages all the achy bits firmly until they give in and piss off and you spend your time moving from your back, to side, to other side, to front, so she can best get to the achy bits. Forty-five minutes with her is not a relaxing experience, but my goodness she's really good. I was sent away with orders to drink a litre of water (what nothing in the water?) and to go have a gentle swim today.

Walking, yes, I'm coming to that. Can't you follow this train of thought? Can't keep up? Yes, anyway, she asked me if I go for walks.

Actually, I don't. Certainly not the way she meant.

Walking with a small child broke me of that habit. Small children are fascinated by the world around them. If you let them walk at their own pace, it'll take you an hour to go a hundred yards. They want to check out every crack; after all, it might have something hiding in it. An ant is a busy being to sit back on your haunches to watch. Chewing gum makes such an odd pattern in the pavement. And if you eventually get to the park (well done) there's flowers, weeds and maybe even a sandpit to check out. My job as a parent, was to find things for my Boy to enjoy. I walked with my head down, looking for ladybirds, grasshoppers, mushrooms, curly braken.

And then I did my BA in Creative Writing. Part of my degree involved conceptual art. Conceputal art is not 'pretty' and tends not to involve the natural world for its inspiration. However, it taught me to look around my environment with child-like eyes. It was easy to fall back into the role of mummy, to look for things which are interesting, the metaphors, the juxtapositions, the beauty in the every-day.

The last walk I went on, was with Dave. He had his camera, I wasn't feeling very robust at the time and we ambled. He got some cracking shots of dragonflies.

I'm not able to walk at a healthy, heart-raising pace. Head in the air, ignoring my world and the other people there. When I was little and went to spend time with my Gran, in the late afternoons, after we had tea, I'd have been bathed and changed into something pretty. We would go out for a walk. It was a stroll, a promenade if you will. Her friends would usually be sat on their porch, having their 'sundowner'. We would pause and I was to stand quietly, speak when spoken to, and not to sigh at all costs. I was brought up to say 'good morning, good afternoon, good evening' to the people we passed, even if we only knew them by sight. People we were unsure of, we smiled politely to.

After my divorce and the post-divorce relationship, I met a man. He was the kind of man my mother would have rather I married in the first place: well brought up, good family, potential for making lots of cash. He and his family went for walks in the fresh air because it was good for one. One walked at a brisk pace over fields, paths and pavement, dressed in green wellies, and Barbour jackets. Frankly, they were so mean-spirited, outside was warmer than the house in winter. I'm sure this was their only way of warming up. I distinctly remember him bitching at me, Boy all of 4 years old, was holding him back on these walks. He needed to keep up, walk faster. This is one of the memories that makes me cringe, this is one of the things I wish I could do over.

So no, I don't do walking for health. Yes, I would rather spend 30/40 minutes sweating with Davina McCall for my exercise. But writing this blog post has given rise to something else. A creative project if you will. Hmmm....


  1. If I don't walk for about an hour a day, I don't feel right.

    It's my daydreaming time.

    Well, frankly, ANY time is my daydreaming time but I have no distractions when I'm walking.

  2. I used to walk 3 miles a day back when I lived in New Orleans. 1.5 to work and 1.5 back. It was truly faster than driving because of traffic and impossible parking. I think you've touched on something I need to make more time for again.

  3. mj ~ isn't that interesting? I have my day-dreaming time in the car.

    hayward ~ wow, that's serious walking you're talking about. I know what you mean about traffic and parking problems. Fortunately, I don't have those issues to deal with, I'm too effing lazy to walk it.

  4. I always walk if I can - only take the car if it's over at least 3 miles.

  5. I preferred running a couple of miles around the neighborhood to unwind. But my knees gave up a long time ago. Now I walk when I can.

  6. dave ~ the earth thanks you.

    xl ~ I don't run honey for a couple of reasons. I don't particularly understand why people run, they always look like they're in great pain.

    But I admire your spirit for doing so, even if you don't do it now.

  7. First off, how could you even consider being with someone who wears green wellies. Bleugh!

    I usually (haven't done it at all this week because it's so friggedy cold) walk home from work which is a brisk 45-50 minute walk. There are three benefits to it. One is it's fresh air/ exercise, two is I'll have forgotten all work stuff when I get home and then I save money on the bus.

  8. cyberpete ~ I was young and stupid. Don't hate me for it.

    Sound reasons for walking honey.

  9. I normally enjoy it, the speed depends on my mood.

  10. mago ~ as long as you enjoy it... xxxx

  11. We used to walk regularly in that up hill, down dale way. But since then, I discovered loafing. M. DeFarge tries to drag me out, sometimes I relent, sometimes I prefer the warmth of the sofa. Good luck with the project.

  12. mme dF ~ there's a lot to be said for loafing. The sofa is a powerful thing to overcome. Good luck with that.


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