I arrived at the right time. Not early, not late. JUST at the moment the park was waking up.
Today I’d got up early for a walk because later on I was going out for a meal with a friend, and I wanted to get some exercise in before heading off to bury my face in a big lunch.
The open sign flicked on as I walked past the Golden Putter stand. The miniature golf was now open for business. As I relaxed on the bench a few metres away I also noticed the bouncy castle gradually climbing upwards from the floor, and could hear the quiet whine of the air pump inflating it.
As the giant rubber ocean liner filled with air its steam funnels and bright yellow archway quickly solidified. Soon it was fully formed – and where there had previously been an empty space there was now a multicoloured kingdom of fun behind the miniature railway.
The fountains in the nearby paddling pool were also on – but so far there were no children in sight to splash in them. The water in it was clear, and the floor of the pool clean and blue.
The fun was lying in wait – ready to pounce.
I continued on my walk. It’s been pretty warm today – which is not my preferred kind of weather. To counteract this I had liberally covered my arms with not one, not two, but THREE different sun creams.
Theoretically I could have survived re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere if NASA required my orbital services. Thankfully they did not.
Although most of the park was relatively unpopulated, by the time I reached the boating house there were lengthy lines of children – which I thought must be a school trip, but the boathouse was locked…
I continued on – coffee in hand along the river. Still no Swanlings. I wonder where they’ve gone? There were lots of ducks though today…
As I was walking I noticed a lady who looked familiar – but wasn’t sure, so didn’t say anything. I could have sworn she passed me earlier… Did I know her?
I was also making a mental note of two middle aged ladies wearing bright pink tops with leggings and hand weights that kept passing me in the other direction. They were power walking.
I nodded at them, smiling and we said hello as they passed me for the third time.
‘You’re doing great!’ one said to me.
‘Yes but you guys are making it look way too easy!’ I said back. They laughed and continued their circuits of the park.
As I approached the end of my lap I realised that the lady I had seen earlier was actually someone from Slimming World – and I stopped to say hello. We had a brief chat about our progress and motivations and took the time to wish each other luck. Both of us it seemed were in a good place today – and philosophical about the whole issue of weight loss and how quickly it was coming off.
Angie’s words this week in group appeared to have sunk in with a lot of people – and the message of being realistic, loving yourself, and not engaging in self hatred for perceived mistakes had resonated with more than just me.
I was glad I’d bumped into her. If I’m honest I saw her doing more laps than me and thought ‘I wonder if I can do another?’
So, instead of walking back to my car I continued around the circuit.
This was unknown territory.
However, much to my surprise the second lap was actually proving easier than the first, and I was stopping and standing to catch my breath rather than having to sit. My glutes were cramping a bit (it seems I am a tight arse) but otherwise I was loving it.
As I walked for the second time past the bouncy castle and mini golf I posted a pic on the SW Facebook group of the ducks. Almost instantly my fellow SW’er in the park replied – saying that there were dragon boats on the river a few metres away.
I could hear the drums as I read the reply!
I walked a bit faster (yes – walking further AND quicker) and got to the boat house as quickly as I could. There they were. The school kids were actually cub scouts – and they were here for a race!
The enthusiastic parents lining the banks were all cheering, clapping and taking pictures, making the atmosphere really friendly. I moved past them a few metres and sat on a bench for a moment to look at my photos.
‘It’s going to get easier.’ A voice suddenly said.
I looked up from my phone. It was the ladies in pink, who had lapped me once more. One with a thick gold necklace and black sponge covered dumbbells had stopped to commend me for my efforts. She was leaning in towards me smiling with big brown sunglasses on.
‘I have a long way to go before I can make it look as casually fabulous as you guys though!’ I replied.
I wasn’t joking. They were kicking ass!
‘It was hard for us when we started..’ The second lady said ‘…but now I’ve lost three stone!’
‘Me too!’ I smiled. ‘I couldn’t walk to the end of my road before and it’s getting easier all the time!’
‘We’ll see you again no doubt!’ They both said as they hurried off for another lap, all the time lifting their foam covered dumbbells up and down toward their chins as they walked.
This is the kind of thing that makes me feel great. I exchanged an extra hour and a half in bed for THIS. How worthwhile is that?!
I was now almost completely around the park a second time, and although my feet were aching I felt fantastic.
Taking a moment to sit in the shade inside a small wooded area further down the river I again looked at everything around me. The sunlight was peeping through the trees and on a branch in front of me a browned leaf amongst other green ones had a perfect spotlight on it, making the colour of it pop and sing.
Despite the leaf being dead it looked for a brief point in time more alive than any other part of the tree, and had become slightly translucent for a moment, hypnotically catching my eye as it sparkled like a little brown rainbow until the light changed.
Then the sun slipped back behind a cloud and I got up to continue. It had been sunny for most of the walk and I was sweating a lot – and really looking forward to the air conditioning of my car.
As I stepped out of the shade on my way there I passed the wild flower meadow I had stopped to look at the previous week. It was now an even more vibrant carpet of yellow than it was the last time that I saw it – punctuated only by occasional hints of white, red or purple.
I couldn’t help but stop and look again.
I had been in the park much longer than usual – and yet I was still feeling epic. Furthermore, despite doing TWICE what I originally planned (2.24 miles in about 1 hour 35 mins) I had also finished just in time to go and pick up my friend for lunch.
We had decided to go for a carvery in Knowle.
Toby Carverys are one of my favourite things. They’re cheap, cheerful and great quality food. They also have a nice family atmosphere. Since neither my friend or I had recently won the lottery this cost bracket fitted the bill perfectly.
As I drove out of Warwick we talked about what was going on with each other’s lives, and how the sale of her house was going. Nothing it seems is simple in life (including this) but I love her spirit. Regardless of what lands on her plate she doesn’t take the opportunity to wallow in it – and that’s an admirable quality in anyone.
I tend to think that people who tell you they’ve had hard lives haven’t actually had it that bad. Those that just get on with things and make the most of everything are the ones that probably REALLY had a tough time. The crucial difference is that they just pick themselves up and carry on instead of dwelling on it.
I’m not sure this is always who I’ve been when I look at myself over the years (you don’t get this fat by dealing brilliantly with all life has to dish out) but it’s definitely the viewpoint I aspire to.
Upon arriving at the pub I whipped out my Slimming World iPhone app, and started looking at what would cause the most potential damage – and what would be free. Most things it seems were well within my boundaries, and as long as I didn’t go crazy I could have a really satisfying dinner.
So – how does my carvery stack up?
I cut all of the visible fat off my turkey, gammon and beef before I ate them so they were all free. Roast potatoes are 2 syns each and I had four. My green beans, carrots and cauliflower (I had no cheese sauce) were classed as speed. The courgette I’m not so sure about as this appears to have been oven roasted with oil – so maybe a couple of syns rather than free…? My onions in gravy are 0.5 syns per serving.
The mint sauce and mustard are approximately 1 syn combined (0.5 each for a level tbsp) and I didn’t have any gravy. I had plenty to drink with it and no desert.
So the rough total for what was an incredibly tasty and filling meal was about 11.5 syns.
To put this in perspective a pint of cider is 11.5.
A McDonalds Big Mac is 25.5.
I know which one I prefer.
Internet – I could have spent the day kicking myself for gaining half a pound but honestly where’s the fun in that? I could have stayed in bed and not gone for a walk – but where would that have gotten me? I could have not looked at my iPhone SW app before eating and just gone for chipolata sausages with sage and onion stuffing and yorkshire puddings whilst burying my head in the sand.
But today I made good choices and I feel better for that. Yesterday is old news. Next Saturday I’m going to CRUSH my goal.