Forget TfL – use feet!

Taking away my 45 minute daily commute, my monthly travelcard and my extortionate gym membership; replacing it with a 15 minute commute two or three days a week, a 45 minute commute one day a week, two or three days a week of flexibility, a pre-pay Oyster card and a desperate need for exercise has resulted in one thing lately: an awful lot of walking.

I’m a big fan of walking in London – after all, I did spend two days walking 42 miles of the Thames Path back in May. It’s just that often I’ve not had the time to do much of it. Training for the Thames Path challenge resulted in a few walks to work, but that also required some very early starts to make it in on time. Now, time is something I have a bit more of, but (oddly frustratingly) many of the places I need to go are just a short walk away.

When I discovered I’d be moving to ‘proper’ central London, many people said that I’d be able to walk everywhere. I scoffed at this, thinking it a massive generalisation. Yes, trips to Marylebone, Oxford Street, Waterloo and Angel would be massively doable, but what about college in South Kensington – surely that would be a bit of a trek? I presumed the same would also be true of my friends in the East End.

However, the combination of no gym membership [I’ve been blessed with a bargain Groupon for 10 day passes, but I’m trying to use them wisely] and Google maps on my iPhone has spurred me into action. Awakening a tad hangover on Friday with nothing planned but a trip to Bow to visit a friend’s new place, I typed the postcode into Google and discovered it was exactly 5 miles away, and, according to the computer, just 1 hour 40 minutes away. Perfect exercise on a beautiful day! It was a good walk – I got a couple of chores done; timed the precise journey time to favourite karaoke bar; stitched together Shoreditch and Bethnal Green; and discovered that the Roman Road is a flipping long road. The walk was so good that a few hours later I walked home again, varying my route, just to keep things interesting.

Using the same app tactic, on Monday I pondered walking home from college – again it hit the 5 mile mark and I figured this would be an excellent antidote to a day of intense concentration. I was enticed by the fact that a considerable chunk of it involved Hyde Park – an excellent place to walk on a crisp autumnal day. It was immensely pleasant – I listened to Wittertainment, caught up with a friend (that multi-tasking thing again) and managed to route my stroll through Selfridges Food Hall where I purchased special offer Cholla bread. Good times, and definitely something to be done again. (Though the purchasing of items in Selfridges rather negates the saving of money in not taking the tube.)

Apologies for the wonky Albert Memorial…

Yesterday, I found myself in Wapping, so checked my phone on the off-chance that a walk was possible. It told me I could be home in 75 minutes – only thirty more than if I took the tube or a bus during rush hour. I had the time, so got going. It turned into a highly entertaining adventure given as it passes through The City, where many streets have amusing names… 
Stop that giggling right now! 

Plus, you get very close to some iconic London landmarks: 
For the uninitiated, that’s the Tower of London (and the Shard) and a glimpse of St Paul’s. 

In the last five days I’ve walked 19 miles on this mission – I don’t think that’s bad going at all. It’s rather fortunate that my Dad’s recently sent me CDs via which I can learn Greek grammar by song, soon I’ll be able to walk and become familiar with participles while singing Old MacDonald… That, my friends, is perfect multi-tasking!

The joys of multi-tasking

Now that I’m living a new life with all sorts of new jobs and time pressures, I’m more and more drawn to the benefits of multi-tasking. As a woman, I’ve been blessed with this particular skill and always put it to use in various ways  – learning choir parts while baking would be a particular favourite, as would utilising long(ish) walks for phone calls to family members (my mother’s first question on answering the phone is now “where are you going?”).

However, I’ve learnt that there are certain things that one cannot do at the same time as something else…

  • On a very basic level, I find it very tricky to do complicated choreography (clapping rhythms and anything more than basic swaying from side to side) while also singing – I blame a familial disposition to mild dyspraxia for that one. 
  • You can’t read and walk. This ought to be obvious and I haven’t been guilty of attempting to do it for ages, but other London commuters don’t seem to have realised it yet. You cannot expect to go at the required commuter pace in a tube station if your nose is stuck in a book. If I see you doing this, I will glare and tut loudly. 
  • As someone pointed out at prayer training this evening, you also shouldn’t pray with your eyes closed while walking along the road – kind of obvious that one, but sometimes you can’t help how the spirit moves you…
  • I can’t read and simultaneously listen to a podcast/spoken radio. My mind will only take in one set of words at once. I often forget this on the tube and waste valuable minutes of The News Quiz or Wittertainment because I’ve picked up a Metro and idly begun reading its drivel. It was particularly idiotic of me to try reading Mark Kermode’s The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex on the tube while listening to that week’s Wittertainment – I lost out on two high quality things.
  • You should never, ever, try and multi-task if it involves a heated hair styling implement. Last Friday I tried to eat lunch, check email and curl my hair simultaneously. None of the three things went well and had I simply done my hair first I might actually have finished it, instead of having to leave the house with it half done – in fact, with all three things half done and a half-clean bathroom that I’d begun cleaning while my lunch was cooking. It was an epic fail of multi-tasking. 
Having said that, there have been some excellent successes:
  • It is possible to be in charge of PowerPoint and a sound desk while working through a chapter of New Testament Greek. Simply lay your exercise book over your muted channels and voila! Ok, so I may have accidentally turned the speaker down once, but I don’t think anyone noticed. [However, I have discovered that it’s impossible to start playing a video clip, get the PC levels up and turn the house lights off at exactly the same time – but usually the job isn’t being done single-handedly.] 
  • Writing blogposts on the bus courtesy of the new, free and rather fabulous Blogger iPhone app. Finally, a decent blogger app! My commute’s gone from 45mins twice a day to virtually nothing (and mostly walking) but the odd bus journey can be utilised well – though I did discover last week that highlighting theology articles can be tricky on a moving vehicle… 
  • Catching rays during our marvellous autumn summer while also learning Greek [you may notice a recurring theme here] – the British Library’s courtyard is a total sun trap. Glorious. 
  • Epilating while watching films. It’s the perfect pleasure/pain combo, plus the noise of the movie helps drown out the (potentially dodgy sounding and high volume) noise of the epilator. 

If anyone has any other top multi-tasking tips, they’d be gratefully received. At the moment, what I think I could do with is some form of gadget that would dry my hair for me while I dressed/applied make-up – that would save me a whole heap of time every other morning!