A group of serious walkers has just gone down the Lane. Twenty or so of them, all in expensive walking boots, maps round their necks, a variety of hats as befits the warm, sunny day, all with fancy sticks - some with two, some with one. My goodness me, walking these days is really serious stuff.
I watched them pass and it reminded me how we have got out of the habit of walking because we have to; our walking now is mainly done for leisure activity. Alright, we might walk two hundred yards down the road to catch a bus, or if we live in a town we might walk a few hundred yards to go to the corner shop, but on the whole we don't walk any more. We have no need.
And I thought of my father who was a great bowls player and who used to walk with my mother and me after work three or four nights a week (work from 7am to 5pm, dinner, an hour in the garden, a wash and then a two mile walk) to play Crown Green Bowls. This was in the days of Double British Summertime (i.e. the war years) and it never seemed to get dark. We would be walking back in the dusk at 10 o'clock and I would be late to bed. But at least my Father went to work on the bus. We never had a car and he never learned to drive.
My grandfathers would no doubt have walked even further because that was the only way most working people got from A to B - and certainly in the case of my grandfathers they would do physical work all day and then walk home - and think nothing of it.
With each succeeding generation the need to walk has got less and less until now walking seems to need all the fancy gear. Yet see television pictures of some of the Third World countries, particularly those in Africa and you see women walking miles and miles to market or to collect water. You see men walking sometimes hundreds of miles throughout the dry season to find water for their cattle and you see children, often hungry for education, walking a dozen miles to school every day.
Now, without a second thought, we tend to back the car out of the garage just to go a short distance. The times they are a'changin' as Bob Dylan famously said in quite different circumstances.