I’ve not got a bad pair of legs even if I do say so myself. The thing is, I paid for them, my mother walked my legs into me and scared poor cellulite from ever coming near. From an early age, her love of walking was ours, like it or not there was no choice in the matter.
At the age of six I was holding onto the side of my sister’s pushchair while walking with mum to visit my grandmother seven miles away. We walked from Morden, where we lived in South London to Balham and back again. This was a regular occurrence and at the best of times without detours it was fourteen miles with short legs. Can you imagine how many steps a six year old needs to take to walk that distance. We didn’t own a car, mum couldn’t drive but the long and the short of it was my mum loved to walk.
I have a scar on my knee now from a fall on one of those walks, I don’t look at it today without thinking back. I can see the blood and the small stones stuck into my knee and I can still feel the kiss that made it all better. In fact many of my childhood memories could be played out on the A24 otherwise known as the London Road.
I remember having dreams as a child of trying to walk or run from a monster and as much as I moved my legs I couldn’t go anywhere. I wonder now if this might have been on the nights of our long walks, my legs still stepping one in front of the other under the bedclothes.
It wasn’t all-bad, we chatted ten to the dozen there and back, I knew my mum then like I do today because we talked to each other, we never walked in silence. I always think it strange when I see families walking along not speaking to each other, what a waste of precious time.
We played guessing games, told stories and sang songs on those walks, my sister joining in from the pushchair. The sweet game was my favorite, it was a special treat when it happened as mum didn’t like us to have too many sweets. We had to suck a sweet and see who could make it last the longest, last one with the sweet won. My sister always won that game, I couldn’t work out how she managed as she talked as much as us. I tried and tried to win, stuck the sweet under my tongue, held it between my teeth and kept my mouth open without swallowing but she was always to be queen of that game.
Mum used to say one day she would walk the length of England, I always hoped when she did eventually do this, she would wait until I was old enough to stay at home. I think I probably walked the length of England a few times in my childhood, but hey I’ve got good legs. What’s more I have the best relationship with my family, wonderful memories and a driving license!