Our days of being room-bound and house-bound and garden-bound appear to be ending. Now we can be expansive, be sporty again. But – with a sigh of relief – I’ll just be walking, just as I’ve been walking for 40-odd years; it’s always an adventure.
My short walk – short, long, all outings are good – joins two of central London’s green spots, Hyde Park and Kensington Palace Gardens.
Two laps around their edges, plus various distractions, takes me three hours. Setting off early from home, it feels like three hours roaming a rural place; and I enjoy two sorts of walks, subject to the mood I’m in.
I love the word, even saying it… sauntering
There is what I call an ‘external’ walk, when I look out to the world, which comes closer on foot. Smell the earth, hear the birds, watch the trees. I talk to owners about their dogs, especially lurcher and whippet owners. For I want one of these beauties. I want to walk with him or her along miles of beaches and fields, aiming for horizons.
Then there is another walk: an ‘internal’ walk, when I’m half oblivious of trees and dogs because I’m thinking instead. The rhythm of such a walk stokes the mind, has me recalling the past, planning the future, toying with ideas. Last week the morning was crystalline as I paused halfway into my first lap, at the ‘Italian Gardens’, at the statue of Edward Jenner, inventor of vaccines, and thought about a book I had published called Sauntering: Writers Walk Europe.
I love the word… even saying it… sauntering (something on its origins anon). And my selection of pedestrian travellers was prompted by a Mr Hackman, who admitted that whilst tramping the continent, circa 1790, he never ‘looked up’ – at anything, at any point. But others across the ages do look up, locals and visitors alike, and I duly corralled them between covers. With Mr Hackman in tow of course.