Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Walking.

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.   

23 comments:

Arija said...

Sometimes I wonder if I have outlived all the privations, the fear of war and, yes, walking everywhere. After the was, when I was about twelve, I thought nothing of walking to a village 12 km away, pick cherries all day and walk back home carrying my earnings of a quarter of a basket of cherries. Exhausted, yes, but happy that I had helped to feed the family. Now I make a point of parking my car in the village and walking to the chemist, the bank, the post office and the general store. Then I take the dog for a walk before I drive home again.

Irene said...

Walking and riding my bike are still the two ways I get around to anywhere I go. Even doing the groceries is done by bike. I hope I will always be able to do this.

Titus said...

My primary school moved out of Romford when I was about, ooh, 7 or 8, and the new one was a good bus ride away in Gidea Park. I used to walk it every day so I could save the bus fare for sweets.

And yes, hardly anyone walks out of necessity these days. I do think there may be a new wind of change in the air though, as young people simply can't afford car insurance so are increasingly reliant on Shanks' pony - as far as the bus stop, at least!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

We thought nothing of walking two or three miles to visit friends when we were in school - and walked several miles to school in the rain and snow. I agree with you - it is like people are discovering walking for the first time, like it is a new sport.

Gwil W said...

I love your first paragraph. No messing. Straight into it. And then to top it off all those summer hats! Great writing. A real hook.

MorningAJ said...

I have a 19 mile trip to work. I'm not walking that each way every day! I used to walk further when I caught the bus, but they changed the timetable and it just doesn't fit in with what my boss will allow in flexibility any longer. I'm afraid the car is my only option these days.

angryparsnip said...

When you don't live where you work a bus or car is the only choice you have.
So then walking becomes a treat something to enjoy on a weekend or vacation. A way to enjoy nature to see views you miss as you drive the highway to work.
I too loved your first paragraph.

cheers, parsnip

Cloudia said...

Yes. Me grandma was a great walker. It is my preferred exercise every morning to the post half a mile each way....


Aloha

Gwil W said...

Just read on BBC website (on the health page) that 25% of adults walk one hour or less per week. It's a shameful statistic.

I remember Stan Bradshaw walking from Morecambe to somewhere near Colne or Burnley through the Trough of Bowland on his 80th birthday.

Heather said...

When I was 8 or 9 my father and I walked along the Downs from Wilmington to Eastbourne which was quite a walk for me. Like your father he never learned to drive and the bus or Shanks's Pony were the only modes of transport. I wonder if, eventually, a new type of human will evolve which has no legs!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather's idea is interesting - I think it would also include a larger bottom from sitting in front of computer screens for hours.

Thanks for calling.

Em Parkinson said...

Gwil's statistic about adults walking is shocking! I'm so grateful to live here and walk on Dartmoor every day f or at least an hour. I know those stick things are supposed to do marvelous things and save you knees but I wouldn't be seen dead with them. I see people in our village driving their kids a few streets rather than let them walk. Very silly...

mrsnesbitt said...

I walk most days - a great excuse nay necessity as a dog owner wouldn't you say Pat?

Gwil W said...

Two weeks ago I slipped on a polished floor and cracked my ribs. The pain abating and I'm just taking gentle walks. It's when you can't walk that you realize the importance and need for doing it. Why have we evolved such long legs, nearly half the length of our bodies, if not for walking?

Ruby said...

I am currently working in the centre of a city on a one month's assignment and am taking the train each day for this and the station is a half hour walk from the office. My co-workers were horrified when I said I was travelling by train and walking up from the station and back each evening. One hour's walking a day. And I love the train ride too. They are all younger than me of course!

Terra said...

You are right about us walking for good health now, which I enjoy. I walk along the ocean a couple time a week, the Pacific Ocean in California. My grandma drove a horse and buggy to her job as a school teacher, times are changing as Mr. Dylan said.

Dave King said...

You are right. It's interesting to compare the generations. My father lived seven or eight miles from his work place and mostly cycled there and back in all weathers, just occasionally treating himself to the luxury of a bus ride.

Pete Thompson said...

I walk every day, even if it's just taking the dog out or doing the three and a half mile circuit of the village. As often as possible I get up into the Yorkshire Wolds which is where I write most of my poetry 'on the hoof'. A good pair of boots is a must as, for me, is a stick to help ease my aching hips up the hills. There was a time when no man would be seen out without a hat and a stick. Nowadays I sometimes use a lightweight walking pole but most of the time it's a willow thumstick cut from the tree in our garden and bound at the top with handlebar tape. I call this my 'memory stick' because, in the same way that the poet Edward Thomas (and others) thougth that paths recorded the footsteps of all who walked along them, I think that my stick is imbued with the memory of every walk we've taken together.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I walk a huge amount to get from A to B. I think people in small cities with good pavements often do walk a lot. I get the bus a lot too, for longer journeys

Pam said...

Researching family history I love to find about how far people walked to the market to sell produce or livestock, or where distance counted for nothing in courting days, long distances that were either walked or cycled by keen young men.
Even 'courting' is such a quaint old-fashioned term, compared to 'hanging out' with someone these days - wouldn't the ancestors roll in their graves with 'shacked-up'!
It may have been different with villages fairly close in England but early settlement in Australia meant lots of travelling great distances by Shank's Pony for family matters, resettlement or often from the coast inland to the far-away goldfields. Shamefully, the newly-arrived Chinese were often directed miles out of their way as they travelled on foot under difficult circumstances in their quest.

shadypinesqltr said...

My mother used to give my sisters and me bus fare to visit our grandparents but, instead of taking three buses to travel the circuitous ten miles or so, we would hike crosscountry and save the money for sweets. I would have been scared to death if my children had done the same thing.

I currently don't have a dog and people perceive you differently if you are out walking without one! A man once told me "a man walking past a playground with a dog, is just a man walking a dog. A man just walking past a playground, is a potential child molester

The Solitary Walker said...

A good point well made, Pat. Needless to say, I love walking, and leave the car at home whenever I can. It's strange, isn't it, we see walking as some special leisure pursuit requiring all that expensive gear etc. – when really it should be everyday, as free as the air, as simple and natural as ABC.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for reading this and commenting while I was away - much appreciated - I came home to lots of e mails from you all.