This morning I went for a short walk in Constable country. A friend bemoaned her lack of fitness the last time I saw her, so we agreed that next time we would chat while exercising our legs and lungs, which is free, instead of drinking coffee at over two pounds a cup while sitting down.
She lives in Constable country and knows the footpaths, so I was able to follow her without worrying about map reading and concentrate on the view. The Dedham vale is very lovely at this time of year, fields with swathes of buttercups and clusters of trees with groups of brown cattle gathered in their shade. Willy Lott's cottage and Flatford Mill are so ridiculously familiar from chocolate boxes and jigsaws that it is quite disconcerting to see them in the flesh. The tower of Dedham church bobs in and out of sight depending on where you're standing.
My friend was touched by my enthusiasm, explaining that while she appreciated it, when she and her husband walked that circuit it tended to turn into a route march towards getting the day's ten thousand steps in. The company of somebody who wanted to stop and look at the cows and the church tower and the shoals of tiny fish in the Stour made a change, and encouraged her to look anew at the landscape. I remember that when I was at Oxford the only time I went to the Ashmolean was when I had a friend visiting. It's good to see your own backyard through somebody else's eyes from time to time, if you can.
We notched up 7,500 steps according to her app, and were walking for around an hour and forty minutes, though some of that time was spent sitting down or standing about looking at stuff. There were a couple of short, steepish hills, and I'd say it was a respectable effort for two middle aged ladies on the hottest day of the year, though for maximum health benefits and weight loss we should probably not have opened the Rich Tea biscuits at the end of it.
We went first thing, before the heat of the day could really build up. Now I ought to be gardening, but it is so hot and humid I have ground to a halt. Tomorrow is forecast to be cooler. Mind you, thunderstorms were forecast half an hour ago and they haven't happened yet. I was talking last night to a garden club in Kelvedon, and was mightily relieved to make it there and back with nothing worse than a few fat drops of moisture falling on the windscreen on the way home. There were yellow warnings in place for heavy rain, and when I got home I read horror stories on the web of people in their cars being rescued from waist high flood water in Dunstable.