This week, Amy has suggested that we Keep Walking for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I feel that I have as many thoughts about walking as I do photographs to illustrate the theme, so I decided to combine the two for this challenge, on a blog that I use mostly when I have more to write about. I obviously can’t claim credit for all the pictures as I appear in some of them.
To begin with, our family never owned a car. We relied on public transportation and our own two feet to get us from place to place. Up until the age of 7 I lived in London and every Sunday morning, my father would take me for long walks, usually to places of historical interest including local cemeteries. The memory of those walks has stayed with me because they were always so interesting and because it permitted me to see the happier, more relaxed side of my father. He was a very private person and didn’t have an awful lot of patience at home but he loved walking and sometimes he would sing while we were going along. I particularly remember a song called ‘Mollie Malone,’ which, at 5 years of age, I found rather sinister and most intriguing.
Of course, I did a lot of walking with my mother too, mostly back and forth to school and also to the local parks, but sometimes we would hop on a bus or tube train and go further afield to walk around Regent’s Park Zoo or The British Museum. We also did a lot of walking when we visited her parents who lived in Kent, strolling for miles along country lanes, picking wildflowers and listening to the birds singing.
Summer holidays at the seaside usually involved quite a bit of walking either along the prom (where the brass band played tiddly-om-pom-pom) or crunching over the shingle beaches with the seagulls screeching overhead, sometimes walking down the Leas Cliff path to the next town along the coast. When I think of all the walking I did when I was a child, it makes me laugh now to hear the kids today complain about having to walk around the block.
When we moved out of London, Dad and I no longer went for our Sunday walks. He was a cockney born and bred and he missed the city and without those walks we seemed to grow further apart. The only walk that I clearly remember taking with him in those days was not a particularly happy one. My mother had persuaded him to take me to Whipsnade Zoo for the day and we had missed our bus. The next one wasn’t due for at least another hour and there was no way he was going to wait that long so he bluntly informed me that if I still wanted to go, we’d have to walk. I wasn’t too perturbed by the idea but after a 7-mile slog, mostly uphill, I wasn’t quite so chipper. Add to that all the walking that we did in the zoo, and I was thankful that we were able to catch the bus back home.
Later, after we had moved to the USA, my mother became my constant walking companion, joining me in jaunts around various trails at parks, nature centers and gardens, sometimes accompanied by the youngest of my three girls.
Some of my longest walks over the past few years have been with this daughter and her husband. Together we have spent countless hours touring the streets of Chicago or hiking mountain trails in Utah but the most memorable walk was the shortest, when my husband and I walked her down the aisle on her wedding day.
Nowadays I walk mostly alone, enjoying the peaceful solitude and recalling earlier rambles, grateful to have had the opportunity to share those walks with loved ones.