Month: March 2013

Views in London: playground for imagination

Last week I wrote about the civility of Chelsea pensioners. This week, I’m compelled to mention pensioners in Chelsea outside of the Royal Hospital Chelsea (RHC).

Let’s just say that they are quite the opposite of civil. Tuesday as I made my way from the RHC to the King’s Road, I encountered retiree after retiree hogging the sidewalk; some even edged people off onto the road.

So much for the English genteel! Maybe it’s the frigid weather that has them ever so cantankerous. Though the official word is that spring came last week, winter remains unofficially and stubbornly. Strong winds and snow flurries continue to unsettle London while heavy snow and ice plague other cities throughout the country.

No wonder folks are stupefied. Never mind. I am not writing about civility this week. I’m writing about things I can see from my windows. So I guess that means I’m stuck too, albeit in my flat.

In these frigid temperatures, I’m lucky that there’s so much to see from my windows. At my former residence, I could see a winged lady on the building behind me–Miranda, my muse. End of blog.

Here, however, I have a bird’s eye view that makes for a great playground for the imagination.

So imagine if you will, rolling hills that seem to meet an idyllic body of water, though the water is actually the sky in the distance. What a striking panorama. Then envisage endless row houses with jutting chimney stacks. At a stretch, this could be Edinburgh or even Dubrovnik. Suit yourself!

Coming in a bit closer, imagine trains whizzing by and then periodically a cloud of white smoke appearing and out of that smoke comes the Orient Express. Actually, it’s the British Pullman, sister train to the Orient Express. All the same it’s easy to imagine yourself relaxing in one of the 1920s vintage carriages of the svelte train.

Now imagine a day trip to another city in the country or even a jaunt to Venice.

Next, notice the traffic crossing the massive roundabout below. Boring, right? Wrong! From a high vantage point, traffic doesn’t faze you. In fact, it intrigues you. Vehicles seem surreal moving on quietly. It’s like watching a silent film.

And now and again something extraordinary enters the scene such as a horse drawn carriage followed by six limousines.

Imagine gazing on as if you somehow knew the departed and then feeling sympathy and reverence simultaneously. When the moment passes, imagine reflecting on the giant sculpture at the centre of the roundabout. Like most feel about Anish Kapoor’s Orbit, you either like it or loathe it.

Undecided,  you look to the faithful Thames where you can imagine boats and barges sailing by and people running and walking nearby despite the frigid weather, but you don’t have to imagine they are there.  Thank your lucky stars for the windows. What would you do without them? You’d probably imagine anyhow, but not with such a wide open playground at your disposal.

Open roads in London: No dead end in sight

When I hit the big birthday last autumn, I compiled a confidential list of 50 things to accomplish before my next birthday. I maintained there was no point in blabbing about the matter the way people often do about New Year’s resolutions or bucket lists, neither of which I am a fan of, precisely why I didn’t opt for either on my special occasion. Both a bit dead end-ish, if you ask me.

With that said, I really enjoyed the movie, The Bucket List.

Anyhow, I knew I had to mark the special year somehow, aside from a big soiree, which was great fun but fizzled out soon after it was over. My confidential list (aka London confidential), lives on–no dead end in sight.

Though I am still not going to spill all of the beans, I am compelled to tell you about one item on my list–to run a major race by autumn 2013.

Big deal you might say, and you are not the only one. Turns out I am not the only person running a race. When I mentioned my 10K to friends and family, I found that some had been there and done that and others were well on the way.

One friend ran her first marathon when she hit the big 5-0 and is still running several marathons later. A 10K is a doddle to her.

Not to me I tell you. I need all the help I can get, which is why I asked the said friend to run with me. And meanwhile, I’ve joined a running school, another benefit of living in my new neighbourhood. Body Logic Health in Battersea is one of the eleven UK locations of The Running School.

To this announcement, readers, friends and family alike responded with a question mark. Running comes naturally, many reminded; it need not be taught. One even went so far as to point out that she would never pay to do something that she already does very well.

Running school is just another big city ploy, she insinuated, contorting her face.

Bear with I told her and quoted from The Running School’s handbook.

“Although it (running) seems the most natural thing in the world to do, many people don’t know how to run efficiently without getting injured, and to achieve their goal or challenge.”

That’s me–blown out knees, pulled hamstrings, and low stamina resulting in an unfinished race or never started race. No more, I vowed.

After hearing me out, my acquaintance had to admit to more than her fair share of injuries.

So off to school I went last Thursday to learn how to run and to run fast!  But before then I had been videotaped and assessed by an instructor at the school. Not bad, not bad, the instructor said but there was much room for improvement.

Moving forward, I’ve spent one intense hour of the six hourly sessions not only running but also flexing and strengthening muscles to improve my overall technique.  Throughout the session, I admitted to feeling unnatural, focusing on coordinating my arms and legs, but also feeling taller and stronger as I did so.

This lofty feeling was worth hanging onto I tell you. It sustained me when I thought I couldn’t carry-on, not only during the session but also during training and practicing in between.

Admittedly, I am finding it hard going, trying to get the best out of my arms, my legs, my torso, while running and walking but I can already see the benefits and it is early days yet. My second session is tomorrow and the third one the week afterwards and so on and so on.

There is no dead end in sight, only open roads to look forward to.