Saturday, February 14, 2015

During my twenties & thirties it never occurred to me not to walk, or cycle, or take a bus for the very good reason - I couldn't drive.

For much the same reason I never saw myself as someone who needed to exercise. Just getting about - shopping, going to work, seeing people - was always involving some form of physical effort (how many miles clocked up along those roads in Oxford, London, Bristol ... ). Without thinking about it I was getting the limbs moving & the heart ticking over. Only as I moved to Belgium & started having to rely on cars (others & then my own) did exercise begin to be an issue.

What prompts these reflections is this morning realising that I didn't need to take the car to go into town. Why wasn't it an immediate reflex to think of the bike? Or rather, how long is it since I have started to see exercise as something 'apart' - fitting a jog into the afternoon or early morning, the swimming habit (the pool is rumoured to be reopening in a month), getting the bike out as a second best to other possibilities.

How stupid!

From the front door to La Septieme Tasse I timed it as 15 minutes. Which, if you factor in the hassle of finding a parking space, buying a ticket, etc.. is probably as quick, if not quicker than going by car. & just to spell it out: saving on the cost of petrol & parking fee & gaining on cardiovascular effort & lungfuls of (sort of) fresh air & fascinating glimpses of views of the city one misses chugging past in a car.

So quick, in fact, that I find I'm twiddling my thumbs waiting for the fashionably late-opening shops along Rue du Bailli to wake up. I browse, saunter & flaneur, have a coffee, then head into the Nijinsky secondhand bookshop, before stocking up on teas. On the way home I take in the Mediatheque & have parked the bike back in the garage before midday. Sorted.

There's not much that Norman Tebbit & I agree upon. However - in this particular instance - the moral is clear: on yer bike.

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