The joy of walking with girlfriends started for me as soon as I was able to get rid of all my children for long enough to take an hour out and get into the park. In the early days it was a bit of a fine art as they were so spread out age wise, one would have been at nursery and the other two at primary or secondary school near where we lived. I was “privileged” enough to stay at home for the early years of their life – but trust me, it doesn’t always feel like a privilege. I gave up my career to look after my kids because it was cheaper than sending them to daycare or paying for a full time nanny and I would do it again, because despite missing out on a dazzling career in the music industry and consequently dying young from all manner of unhealthy behaviour whilst hanging out with the rock stars of the ’80’s (and therefore only having one child at best), I got to watch them grow up and I was there when they fell over and needed a hug and a kiss on the plaster, or took their first steps or made their first friends. That was the privilege bit I’m referring to – I wanted to be there, but sometimes it was hard to remember that. It often felt mind numbingly boring. Helping them fix pieces of Lego together or doing a jigsaw puzzle or attempting to feed them something that was up to their demanding standards was soul destroying and lonely at times.
Step in a cohort of other, likeminded mothers (not many fathers around at that stage) at the nursery and the primary school who were also stay-at-home mums at the time and desperate for adult company. We all pretty much felt the same way and so started hanging out together more and more to share concerns, stories and highlights. In order to balance the copious amounts of wine we needed in the evening to stay sane, we would go for long walks, every Monday morning, straight after dropping the kids and it became an essential part of our week that we all looked forward to. It’s just so good for the soul.
Those regular walks stopped as we all got back into work once the kids were at full time school – although lockdown got us back in the groove. It was the only way we could see each other during the pandemic, so we walked and walked and walked. Now one of our favourite activities has become one of the highlights of our birthday season. A great excuse to us to all come together to get some exercise, catch up on all the news, have a massive laugh and eat cake! The simple act of walking in itself is great on many levels, but when you add close friends into the mix, it’s joyful. As you get older, you start to really work out what you value most in life and being with close friends, the people who enrich your lives is right up there.
Our destination these days is often to the Petersham Nurseries which is always a special treat, for coffee and cake and it’s the perfect combination, even on a rainy day. We massively appreciate the changing of the seasons (because that’s what happens when you’re old) and that adds to the enjoyment of the experience. It’s such a supportive group we have and taking the time to step away from our busy lives and spend time in the moment is extremely valuable.
All that low impact exercise almost balances out the stuffing our faces full of cake and coffee! Win win! The trees all look so gorgeous at the moment in their autumnal colours and the fresh air helps too:-
The activity always extends far beyond the physical benefits of exercise. Enduring friendship is invaluable and making the effort to spend time together over the years has meant that we’ve all remained very close. We’ve supported each other through the highs and lows of life and conversations invariably cover everything from cancer, to hair colour, to relationships, to work, to children, to weddings, to scams, to basically anything and everything and not only do we learn a lot and make important life decisions, but we cry and laugh together.
I couldn’t imagine a life without them and the support we offer each other. This walk was about our birthdays – the icing on the cake!
Lots were unable to join us the morning we set off….but it’s always a relatively fluid occasion and this year was just as gorgeous as ever.