Thursday, 1 September 2016

Morning walks - the village and the cruise ship

Games are fine for some people, but (cards apart) I'm not a game player, so the thought of organising a regular morning walk for myself by throwing a dice (I should say 'die', shouldn't I?), putting the results into the most efficient order, and then working out a score later, all seemed too elaborate by far. Why did I need a challenge? Why did I have to beat the clock? Why did I have to impose failure-penalties on myself? I only needed exercise.

All I needed to do was settle on a standard circular route around the village, that I could vary for length and variety by adding extra loops.

A glance at the map gave me my basic circuit. I knew sections of it like the back of my hand. It was all on proper pavements. No muddy footpaths, no dodgy alleyways or lonely twittens where mad axemen might lurk. It was a safe, all-weather route that didn't require special footwear and could be walked at a brisk pace throughout.

I had in fact walked some of it at a positively cracking pace in my commuting days: one always walked as fast as possible to reach the station, and the trick was to never look at your watch until you were actually on the platform: just concentrate on walking efficiently, and hope that the train was slightly late. It usually was. In those days I'd be walking that section at around 6.45am. Now it was going to be 8.15am, but it would still be quiet.

My basic circuit avoided slopes and steps. I wanted nothing that would at the outset puff me out or turn my legs to rubber. After a few days I would be slightly fitter, and could then try adding side routes which would take me up and down slopes and steps before looping back onto my standard walk.

Unless I bypassed it with a long loop, the standard walk took me through the village centre and therefore the shops, if I needed anything for breakfast.

There was really only one potential hazard - people I might meet. These would be strangers I'd inevitably encounter day after day, at the same time, on the same section of my walk. I seem to attract them. At first we'd just smile as we passed. But soon it would be more than that. And then we'd both stop to chat at some length, every time. That would ruin the whole point of the walk - uninterrupted brisk exercise.

I well remember what happened to me on the cruise in 2009, after only two days: my good intention of completing two circuits of the promenade deck before breakfast with Dad had to be abandoned. I kept bumping into a Danish couple called Knut and Elisabeth, or Liz. They actually looked out for me, especially after I correctly predicted the miles covered in the ship's Daily Run, and won some money. They thought I was a punter worth following! Here they are.


And here's another of Liz, when we were on a tour of the galley:


It wasn't just them. There was no chance of moving around the ship incognito. I became a remarkably popular passenger - though I really can't think why.

It was a Saga cruise for older people, and I might have stood out merely for seeming so 'young' and 'energetic', and popping up everywhere on the ship, and generally seeming much in evidence. It might also have been my camera. I was sporting the big, professional-looking full-frame Nikon with a monster zoom lens, and I was asked nearly every day whether I shot pictures for a living. Even the ship's official photographers enquired. And they must have passed the word around to the other crew members, so that I got plenty of smiles and respect, and (had I pushed it) might have got a few special favours, like visiting the bridge and photographing the Captain doing his stuff.

I liked my one and only experience of cruising very much, at least on a small and intimate ship like the old Saga Rose. Dressing up on formal or gala nights was great. The passengers all loved the opportunity, and it convinced me that whatever one's age or shape, formal attire always makes men look distinguished and women glamorous. The senior crew were always immaculate. I generally couldn't get them to strike a pose for me - although one girl called Shanna willingly did:


Ah, I had nothing in my suitcase to compare to that yellow evening gown of hers! Sigh.

Dad always looked good in a dinner suit. Here he is, in the library before dinner; and then later on, ordering his courses with decision and authority.


Daytime it was informal. Here's Dad at afternoon tea. (I confess that the plate piled up with pastries was mine) Oh dear: he looks a bit frail, doesn't he?


Dad and I rather stood out as a pair: the infirm father and his devoted shadow. I hovered close to Dad at all times, in case his arthritic ankles gave way and he fell. (He never did though) By the end of the cruise, a lot of passengers knew who we were, and would constantly be greeting us and having a word. We were sought out for evening quizzes. Hectic and riotous, they were. But fun, and terribly good-natured.


Here's a spritely ninety-two year old gentleman (in the white jacket, about to have sherry with the Captain). He came over to us, and told my Dad that he had a very nice daughter. Bless him.


All this was most pleasant, but it ruined my exercise regime.

That was a big digression, so let's get back to this morning. How did my first Regular Get-back-in-shape Exercise Walk go? My standard circuit was about two miles long. I covered it in thirty-eight minutes. That was with two stops to take photos, and a call into the doctor's surgery, to withdraw myself from their Electronic Prescription Service and revert to the old way. I won't go into that here (in fact don't get me started on it at all).

So had I completed the walk non-stop, it would have taken only thirty-four or thirty-five minutes. Good enough. But I hope to improve on that.

At one of the photo stops, I attempted to shoot myself in action, walking at speed. But it's impossible to show both arms swinging, and difficult to catch one's legs in mid-stride, so this will have to do:


1 comment:

  1. Good for you Lucy. Earlier in the year I walked every day with a friend who was dog sitting for one of her friends. At first I came home weary and some slopes seemed a bit steep but by week end the slopes seemed less inclined and I was inclined to walk further... Do not reward yourself with a bun!

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