We eschewed the stuffy, smelly gym last night for a walk round the park in the fresh (!) air. Charlie, Louise, Mary and myself congregated in the car park at Peckham Rye sans dogs and children. It was very liberating I can tell you. Water bottles clutched in our mitts, we got down and dirty with the warm-ups that Louise (married to body builder Tim) always insists we do religiously. There we were, under the trees, stretching and twisting and limbering - watching as kids on bikes tore along the path, dogs chased sticks and loving couples lounged in the sun. All very idyllic.
We decided to quickly walk a lap of the common “just to see how we get on”. Mary has a bad back and had spent all weekend with a cold, Charlie has a dodgy ankle and Louise has problems with her hip and knee which means that at any given moment her thigh goes numb causing a comedy stumble. As the second-from-youngest of the group, I felt quite chipper! Nothing twinging, nothing aching. Amazing!
The first lap (along by now defunct paddling pool of my youth – ah, many happy hours spent in there - along the main road, to the corner, up what is locally known as The Side of The Rye opposite Barry Road, before walking back along past the One O’clock Club and the old - now sadly removed - Prisoner of War huts) took us roughly 15 minutes. We were all concentrating on the joys of exercise so only briefly touched on Louise’s sisters birthday party plans, Charlie’s work dilemma, Mary’s chest and whether it was wheezing and my comments about the dead daffodils.
By the second lap (in reverse this time, for originality), we were planning twice weekly park walks and there was even talk of abandoning the gym altogether. By the time we’d reached the dead daffodils along The Side of The Rye we were all chipping in to buy some basic weights, stretch bands, mats and skipping ropes so that we could have our own “park gym” which would save 45 quid a month each. We agreed that, after a brief rest on the benches, we could go round again. Mary’s wheezy chest wasn’t given her too much grief, Louise’s thigh had only gone numb once and Charlie’s ankle was holding out admirably.
The third lap was noticeably slower than the second. We were ambling rather than walking by then. Comments were being passed on passers-by as they waited for buses (“Don’t like that skirt that woman’s wearing” – Charlie. “I’ve got that in black” - Louise). A dog-walker was loudly castigated by myself and Mary for watching as her rather large dog deposited something unpleasant in the long grass before walking off without picking it up. Lady Dog Walker made a very rude gesture and an even ruder comment. I do so despise inconsiderate dog owners that ruin it for the rest of us. By the first bank of dead daffodils, a loving couple were enjoying a good old snog and there was much nudging and winking amongst the four of us as we approached that turned to old fashioned blushes when we realised that the loving couple were both female and really going for it. Practically by the roadside! By the third bank of daffodils we were stopped in our tracks (helpfully Louise’s thigh went numb again) by the most hunkiest jogger in the world. Most joggers in the park are of a certain age, paler than milk, dressed like a reject from an 80s pop video and gasping for air. This guy was tanned, dressed in teeny tiny shorts and vest and breathing as if it wasn’t an effort. He was running in short bursts, his legs pounding like pistons as we all stood there with our mouths open. Once Louise’s numbness had dispersed, we were off again, now all but meandering along past a heaving One O’Clock Club – kids were climbing all over the jauntily coloured apparatus, screeching with delight while parents fondly watched them.
As we returned to our starting point, instead of milling around by the benches as we had done previously, there was a concerted move towards the cars.
Well.....there's no point in overdoing it!