Joining a walking group

‘Hygge’ is apparently all last year’s news. The new word to look out for is ‘ikigai’. A Japanese word for something that gives you pleasure and purpose in life. To me both the Scandinavian and Japanese concepts seem the same. Finding joy in the little things in life. Apparently if you discover your passion, you will never run out of motivation and energy according to Hector Garcia, one of the proponents of the concept.

I have two options as I wake up this morning, take it easy or join a walking group and go for a long walk. I have been thinking about joining such a group for a very long time. Last week as I leafed through our local magazine I found an item about such a group and rang them up for more information.

Today’s walk is starting from the ‘Limehouse’ station at 1030 and so off I went with my packed lunch and water bottle and reached the station with plenty of time to spare. At the entrance I saw an elderly lady who looked as if she was also waiting for someone. I had a chat with her and found that she was also waiting to do the walk. Soon the other members of the group showed up followed by the guy who was going to lead the walk. Most of them do these walks on a regular basis and know each other well. They make me feel welcome and we start our walk.

As we walk around the corner from the station we reach the Limehouse Basin Marina where house boats are moored. Even the apartments surrounding the marina are built in the shape of a ship’s bow and look as if they are going to set sail from the marina.

We walk along the canal and pass further houseboats moored along the canal. Soon we reach the Bow locks and further along the canal, the House Mill, London’s oldest surviving and the world’s largest tidal mill dating back to 1776. Here we stop for a comfort and snack break.

Along the route, I get a chance to talk to some of the ladies in the group. The first lady, I met this morning, is actually 88 years old, a retired teacher who now has an online business selling first edition books that she and her husband collected over the years. She used to play golf, tennis, badminton and still plays soft tennis. The other members of this walking group are easily 10-20 years older than me. I am amazed at their energy levels. The walk is not too fast and yet not too slow either. I like the pace as it lets me take in and enjoy the surrounding views as I walk with them.

We walk past the Olympics stadium and soon stop for our lunch break. Part of the canal is a bit run down, the water is covered in algae and there is rubbish floating around, but as we reach the Hackney marshes, the view gets better. We leave the canal and walk through the grassland which form the marshes for a distance and reach a railway arch. It is from here that Sir AV Roe made his successful flight in his triplane in 1909. The avroplane can be seen in the London Science museum.

As we walk along the canal, we see a family of swans resting along the canal bank and one of the ladies made an attempt to walk towards them. The head of the group lifted his head and looked at us with a snarl. He made it known in no uncertain terms that we were not welcome. Further along the canal groups of swans are having a good time paddling along with the ducks and the geese. A young guy caught a big fish with his fishing rod and was trying to reel it in when it wriggled free and swam away. He would have set it free anyway, but cannot claim that he caught the fish if he didn’t actually catch it.

My elderly friends are flagging by this point. We have walked about 6.5 miles. If I have their energy when I reach even seventy, I will be very happy with myself. I think the team needs to be renamed ‘ the silver haired walking club’. So my friends circle is getting wider. I would like to carry on doing this. The weather was kind to us today, with the temperature in the low twenties. It is unlikely that we will get such good conditions time and again, but let’s see.

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