One of the worst things about having a body with limited mobility and energy reserves is how it restricts one’s capacity to be impulsive. It is not that I suddenly want to start climbing trees, or hanging upside-down off doors (my party-piece of old), but I have sorely missed being able to take off, on a whim, on foot. Before all this, I was quite a militant pedestrian, and this was particularly the case on my home turf (surely Edinburgh is one of the most pleasantly walkable of cities?). On a rare day off, I would think nothing of stravaiging across the city, spending a couple of hours in Morningside, having a cup of tea or a quick pint, and wandering back home, covering eight miles or more. This seems quite unimaginable now. Until today, in fact, my wandering has been limited to within a mile’s radius from my home and I still have to plan such excursions with tedious precision, taking into account the previous days’ activities and their likely impact on my energy levels. Stravaiging should be spontaneous, but so far I have found such spontaneity frustratingly impossible. For example, one sunny Saturday morning last September I got up and thought that I might just have a wee wander into Stockbridge. I set off valiantly and made it to Canonmills, before I began to feel woozy, sat down at a bus stop and had to call Tom to come and get me.
Well, this morning I finally made it into Stockbridge, walking about four miles there and back, alone, and under my own steam. This still required some planning – I took it easy yesterday, and left Bruce at home just in case I had to catch a cab – but, for the first time since the stroke, it felt like I was having a proper wander: purposeless, pleasurable, self-directed.
It was lovely just to potter about another neighbourhood, with its signs and chimneys, its regency stone and flaking paintwork.
(I am always intrigued by the items on display in this dusty ‘antiques’ shop on St Stephen’s Street – I don’t think I have ever seen it open – have you?)
. . . and enjoy some suggestions of better weather –
I posted a letter, I bought some bread at Herbies. I meandered back along the water.
At home, I ate the bread with a tasty bowl of soup made with the stock of last Sunday’s guinea fowl. I may also have eaten a large bar of chocolate covered marzipan. What luxury.
Here’s to more urban stravaiging.