In the cauld blast ...
...A day in which I considered walking, exercise and the malign effects of the pandemic on such things. First, of course, I had to drag myself from sleep - I can't really function too well if I go on getting to bed at 1am without compensatory long lies, which I don't tend to have because that way ruin lies. And there wasn't even a dramatic dawn to help me get up.
Once up, the most I accomplished in the morning was a bit more work on poetry choices and layout, followed by a serious stint on the Italian lessons. (By "serious" I mean taking notes properly in an attempt not to keep making the same errors). But the fact of sitting at the computer for a while made me resolved to get out later, and despite a sudden downpour and the presence of more clouds than there had been we headed off down the road to Toward.
And this had me thinking about how that first Covid lockdown had affected us and our attitude to what had been a normal part of life, in which walks happened, but not every day; in which other things could take the place of exercise without a great feeling of loss - after all, when we were both teaching we could really only get out at the weekends and neither of us died or grew enormous. But the moment we were told to stay close to home but that we could go out "for prescribed exercise" - that was fatal. I think we felt so trapped that going for "a decent walk" became a daily obsession. At first, the prevalence of virtue-signalling snoopers as evidenced on social media meant that we really did walk from home, and rejoiced in the fact that from our back door we could reach the top of the hills behind the town, hiking to places we'd not visited in years, driving ourselves to achieve new heights, new distances.
My point is that I think we're still suffering from this obsession, which makes life difficult when sore backs and so on get in the way. And talking of sore backs: I'm discovering the real meaning of "warming up" for exercise and the increasing necessity to attend to this. Take this afternoon. We'd gone about 10 minutes' walking along the shore road when my lower back started to ache. So did my hips. So did one instep. I felt like stopping, turning round, going home. And then we met a couple of friends we've not seen since Covid, friends we met on group trips abroad who actually live here. They'd been collecting seaweed on the shore for their garden. We stopped for a catch-up. And when we moved off again, we were both frozen - because there was this wind and we were dressed for walking and not for a stationary demo or whatever. But the aches and pains had gone, and I was soon able to accelerate and complete the walk I'd first thought of without any recurrence.
So, note to self: do some stretches before you go out for a walk. Get the circulation going to these wretched muscles that make you feel about a hundred years old.
And the photo? Taken along the beach road at Ardyne, looking towards the cloud-covered sunset beyond Bute, with the Arran hills putting in a ghostly appearance to the left of the bright patch of sky and a touch of gold over the sandbank in the centre of the picture. You have to imagine the somehow chilly sound made by a mini-murmuration of oyster-catchers wheeling in formation above the fields to my right.
A final confession: we had Christmas cake for lunch. That is all.