Standing up makes you fitter – it’s official

Very interested to hear the item on the radio this morning which said that:

  • the UK is the least fit nation in the whole world
  • you can improve your fitness just by standing up rather than sitting.

The point about standing is that you use many small muscles that aren’t in action when you sit, so they all get stronger. Stand to do as many activities as you can, and you’ll be the better for it. Walk even the last step or two of an escalator, and your health will improve.

This all chimes very well with the subject matter of my Kindle book on walking for pleasure, as my main point is that if people who are unfit can start with just a short stroll every day, choosing a place or reason to walk that will be of interest to them, then they are already on the path to a healthier and more interesting life. Diabetes, heart disease and cancer are all long-term conditions that affect those with fitness and weight problems, so anything people can do to get more active is worth while. And if you enjoy what you are doing, you are more likely to keep doing it! 

I’ve published my first book

And I’m very excited.

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For years (and years!) I have written well, but I have written information for the public where my aim has been to be clear and concise. I have several very good ideas for novels and short stories, but the style I need to develop is very different from my professional style. So I have been loosening up my writing muscles, starting with blogging and moving into books.

I’m also interested in the world of self-publishing, so I have decided to publish exclusively via Kindle and Amazon to find out how that works. It took a fair amount of time to get the book published – you have to fill in forms for US tax purposes, and it took me some trial and error to work out why my photographs were not appearing properly. I couldn’t find an FAQ that helped, so I had to tweak my original document and upload it about six times before I got a format that viewed well. Basically a couple of sessions of about three hours each. Their cover design widget works well though …

I had a side-track while I looked at the purchase of ISBN numbers, which is not something I had thought about. Ideally I would have purchased an ISBN, but you have to buy 10 at the cost of about £130 and that seemed a bit much when I only have the one title at present that I am trying out.  Good learning, though, that will stand me in good stead when I have my next book ready to go.

So, it’s been a nervous wait to see if everything had been done correctly but – da – dah! here it is.

Oh – what’s the book about, I hear you cry?  It’s non-fiction and it’s called The beginner’s guide to walking for pleasure, and it has grown from ideas that i first explored in this blog, but expanded and developed into a complete book. People are being told (by their doctors, the government and the media) to exercise more and lose weight to reduce the risk of nasty long term illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, as well as some cancers. There are lots of guides being published on the physical side of things – how to walk yourself fit, basically. My point is that unless people find the exercise fun they won’t stick to it, and all the preaching just adds stress to their list of ailments. However, find the pleasure in walking, and it will be something you do willingly and happily for years to come. So that’s what it’s about – how to make walking fun, and what benefits you get if you make walking part of your daily life. Plus some little anecdotes and such like.

Please check it out, and if you like it, let me know. And buy it too, of course!

Out and about in Bradford on Avon and Clifton

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I’ve had a lovely Easter weekend, thank you for asking, with my son, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend visiting. We picked them up in Bristol on Saturday afternoon, and following a beautiful sunny walk along the Clevedon seafront enjoyed a pint at the Moon and Sixpence followed by a delicious meal at Junior Poon’s on Hill Road. Strolled home under a star-lit sky, chatting all the while.

On Sunday we headed out towards Bradford on Avon, although the weather forecast was less promising than we had hoped. However, the road over the Mendip’s was gloriously misty and atmospheric, and we saw the herds of goats used to crop the plants on the cliffs that otherwise would overwhelm the natural rare species and character of the gorges. I hadn’t been to Bradford on Avon before, even though one of my ancestors was born in the town, and I must say I loved it. I have included just a couple of photos to give an idea of the character of the place, but it is just lovely. The same golden stone that you see in Bath, interesting shops, and great walks, boat rides and cycling along and in the Kennet and Avon canal.  It poured with rain, so we dived into a very quaint coffee house for shelter and refreshments. Then we drove back to Clevedon via Bath and Bristol.

This morning we popped into Clifton across the beutiful suspension bridge, parked up and spent sometime strolling around Clifton village. My son had to head off to Temple Meads for his train, but the rest of us had lunch on the pub terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel overlooking the gorge, basking in the beautiful warm sunshine. I saw a raven, but was the only one who was really impressed!

If you don’t know North Somerset, Bristol and Bath, I would recommend a visit. The countryside is beautiful with lots of good walks, and there are so many villages with welcoming pubs, so don’t just drive through on your way to Devon and Cornwall. Stop and say hello!

Cyclists v Pedestrians

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Out walking the other day with my husband, I stopped to take a photograph, and my husband stepped to the side of the path to wait for me. As he moved, there was a loud scuff of tyres braking and a mountain-biker, who had come to a full stop having been pelting along the path, righted his bike, shook his head in disbelief at the fool who had stepped into his way and then carried on his speedy way.

Recently, my daughter and her boyfriend were out walking when she felt a firm tap on her shoulder.  It was a cyclist, irritated by the fact he couldn’t easily get past.

Last year, walking to work I was taken-aback to have a cyclist ring their bell for me to move out of their way on the pavement, so they could speed past.

These three small stories illustrate the growing issue of cyclists and pedestrians sharing the same space, in the same way that more obviously life-endangering problems have been discussed between cyclists and vehicles using the road.

A key factor is often overlooked by cyclists in the UK: while there are some paths that are dual use for cycles and pedestrians, in most cases it is illegal to cycle on a footpath. While I can understand that is some circumstances it is much safer for a cyclist to use a footpath rather than a road, I know from first hand experience how dangerous this can be. As a small child I stepped out of my garden gate while waiting for my parents, and was knocked over by a bike. As well as being badly shaken, my head was gashed, and I had to go to hospital to have the wound stitched, so I bear the scars to this day.

Ideally there would be safe, separate cycle routes in all our towns, but this would be a long term, difficult and expensive solution which I don’t expect to be implemented any time soon. I also don’t expect the police, road safety organisations or local councils to clamp down on cycling on the pavement, as it would be dreadful if they did and someone was killed on the road as a result. However, I don’t think there is any reason why we cannot share the space available, be we pedestrians, skateboarders, scooterists or cyclists. What just have to be mindful of the appropriate way to use the space. Very simply, pedestrians have the right of way on footpaths. Cyclists should not harrass or move them out of the way, but should get off their bikes and walk if they cannot ride past safely. Secondly, if anyone needs to cycle on a path, they really must keep to a walking pace, so that they have time to notice a pedestrian stepping into their path and the pedestrian has a chance to spot them. While it should be obvious to anyone that you need to give a wide berth to anyone with small children, pushchairs or dogs, it is particularly important for cyclists to remember that not everyone out walking has great hearing. If you cycle up behind someone they may well have no idea you are there until it’s too late. And pedestrians are not yet obliged to give a hand signal if they intend to move across a pavement, stop or even fling their arm out in the course of a conversation!

In our recent encounters with cyclists on the path, we have been too surprised and shocked to take issue with their behaviour. I am preparing myself for the next near miss, as I think pedestrians need to stand their ground. I’ll be polite, but I’ll point out that if they are cycling on the path they need to go slow, and if I get the chance I’ll remind them that it is illegal to cycle on the path.

It would be nice to think we can adjust our behaviour just a bit, so we can enjoy being out and about a bit more.

 

 

Up with the lark

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Beautiful day to get up early for a walk round Poet’s Walk before breakfast.  Lovely light for photographs too.

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The sun was low enough and bright enough to be casting really strong shadows, so the texture of every blade of grass, twig and ripple stood out strongly.

Fresh air, the pleasure of walking, hills for exercise and open blue skies.  Beautiful!

The next challenge is to get up before the lark and aim for sunrise over the Mendips.  I’ll see what I can do!

Trunkless heads on a headless trunk ….

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Out walking yesterday in Clevedon we saw this.  Anyone know anything about it?  Intriguing!

Just goes to show how stimulating to mind and body walking can be.  You never know what you’ll see or what new food for thought you will be gifted with.  Plus physical benefits of improved strength and balance, while burning some calories and getting your heart and lungs working.

Really, walking is The Thing!

Walking and thinking

I’ve always enjoyed walking:  it needs no specialist equipment (just a comfortable pair of shoes) and it is non-exhibitionist (you always seem to notice joggers, but who takes note of a walker?

Provided your joints are in fairly good shape, the health benefits are obvious, especially if you keep up a good pace and take in a few hills along the way.  Here in Clevedon there are plenty of great walks and most days I get out before breakfast and do something between 7 and 12 thousand steps.  They say that 10,000 steps a day is enough to keep you healthy.

Favourite walks are Poet’s Walk:

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or looking the other way, towards Clevedon:

Imageor walking down the coast path, round Marshall’s field and the edge of the golf course and on towards Weston.

At high tide the boats moored at Clevedon Pill have an atmospheric look.Image

 

I’ve always known that I like the way that walking gives you the opportunity to stop and look when you see something interesting.  I like the natural world, and have been very pleased this year to see some wild birds I haven’t seen for years, such as linnets and skylarks, as well as a little egret.  And I like the vistas and landscape here too.  You can see why from the photos, I hope!

Recently I have been thinking about the actual pleasure that there is in walking.  There is a moment when you hit a nice rhythm and feel that you could walk for ever.  As it’s an easy and natural thing to do, you don’t have to think about what you are doing and your mind can range wild and free.

I think everyone has experienced the particular pleasure of stepping where no one has walked before – the first footprints in freshly fallen snow, or across a newly washed sandy beach for example. Recently I have been thinking about the pleasure of walking on ancient paths, where generations of people have walked over the years.  In more cases than you might think, footpaths have been in use since ancient times.  Lately archaeologists have been uncovering neolithic human footprints in the mud flats of the Bristol channel, and there’s an iron age fort on Wain’s Hill (around which poets walk runs). So my mind was running on the idea that I’m following in the footsteps of generations of people, and that more generations of people will follow the same routes in the future. This adds a spiritual aspect to the physical pleasure, which I haven’t thought about before.

Do pilgrims pick up on the same feeling, and does it add to their religious experience on reaching the object of their journey.  I wouldn’t be surprised.

Anyway, if you haven’t tried recreational walking lately, pick a good route, some comfortable footwear and get out there!