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Life Chez Dee Episode #34: Walking with Oli

I know I’ve written quite a few blogs about my adventures out and about with the Nordic walkers, but today was rather special for me. Oliver is still on school holidays and asked if he could come with me; I cleared it with Ewa, but I knew deep down she’d be okay with it, he was with me, and he’d already proved himself capable of coping and keeping up when he’d walked with the group before.

He’d had his first taste of effective walking when he came along with Bart, Ewa and lots of the regular Nordic walkers to “walk the lights” in Blackpool. It was organised primarily as a social evening out for the walking groups, but also in support of The Edward Dee Fund. Normally it would cost about £6 for a walk, but Bart organised this evening walk as a free event, but asked that donations be given to the charity.

The walk was not only fabulous, but I was incredibly touched by the amount of support shown, and the incredible generosity of those who came on the walk with a massive £235 being raised.

We all met that evening at The Solaris Centre and caught the tram to Bispham. After a quick warm up, we all walked, at varying paces, back down the seafront, through the lights and into Wetherspoons for fish and chips as a reward for all that used energy. The walk was open to friends and family and Oliver and Justin came with me too. William would have come, but he had a trumpet lesson going on at home and so we left him to fend for himself that evening. Oliver and Justin used the ProX walking tool, rather than using poles, as neither of them had been through the initial training with poles, and so I decided I too would use the ProX so we were all doing the same thing.

Justin was impressed at how effective it was. I knew how effective it was. I really got into my stride through the lights, swinging my arms, walking purposefully, effectively … and fast. Oliver loved it. He worked really hard. The 3 mile (ish) walk we did really was a fast pace and Oliver not only kept up with us all beautifully, but also used the ProX tool too, with 1kg of resistance, and I have to say I was pretty impressed at how well he managed keeping up with us all. I know he was feeling it though, and after all this exercise for his upper and lower body, and a very late night to boot, he was very tired the next day; thankfully it was the last day of school, so not much going on there, but I knew he was really tired by the fact that he said he didn’t feel like he wanted to do after school football!

Anyway, the reason I digress is that Oliver was so taken with the walking and the ProX that he asked if he could have one of his own. I didn’t give it too much thought, as I wasn’t quite sure if it was a fad, but thought maybe if he did mention this more it might be something he’d like for Christmas. Well he didn’t stop mentioning it …. I’ve heard him asking about having one of these now so often that I mentioned to him that it would be a good thing for him to ask for as a Christmas present from someone …. But he doesn’t want to wait. He has emptied his pocket money jar out, and paid Ewa for one of his own … and today he came with me on the walk to use it.

He’s asked for one with a broader belt to it; one which has pockets and a bottle holder. Ewa had it ready for him in a box to take home, so he wore one of hers that she hires out on the walk today.

He’s really enjoyed it this morning … granted it was a beautiful day, a bit nippy but gloriously sunny; the green, the windmill, the water shimmering, boats sailing by, it was all incredibly pretty.

He’s observed so much going on around him, and he’s observed others, and how they’re walking. He’s joined in with the pre and post walk exercises, noticing which part of the body he’s focussing on. I helped him through some of these exercises, tweaking his position sometimes, and pointing out whereabouts he should be feeling the stretches. I made him pay particular attention to stretching out his calf muscles … as he seems currently to have a tendency to walk on his tiptoes … I find with Oliver that he has little experimental fads with what he does, and this walking on tiptoes seems to be the current foible. We point out to him so often how he shouldn’t do this, how he’ll shorten the muscle, how painful it will be for him eventually to put his feet down, and all manner of other lectures … so today was no exception in having me point this out again as we did all our warm up and cool down stretches together.

I’m impressed with Oliver at the way he naturally fits in with people, and how he’s comfortable chatting to people, both adults and children alike. I think an ability to chat to people is a marvellous quality to have. Today he’s chatted to a host of people, but particularly with Ewa, all about walking, and his technique; and with Phil about all manner of things from music and drumming through to watching Strictly.

Rewarded with a post walk hot chocolate when we were back at Lowther Café … the drink I chose for him as a post walk treat … because he was so busy chatting, he didn’t even come into the café with me, he was far too engrossed in chatting to Phil about Strictly. He told me his legs were aching a bit, but that’s probably due to the fact that he did a 3K run with Justin yesterday, followed by a two hour football party! And to be honest, he’s probably still feeling the after effects of all the walking we did on holiday. I know that I am still recovering a little from all that walking; it’s been a long time since I’ve done so many steps day after day. I don’t know how many miles we’ve walked in total this week, or indeed how many feet we’ve climbed, but I do know that it was a lot … a lot for my legs … and even more for little legs, but he’s enjoyed it, he’s enjoyed the views, he’s enjoyed the time we’ve had for each other, being able to connect and chat without disruption or distraction. We’ve had some long overdue, quality family time together.

I know Oliver loved it today, he’s recounted the walk, and his various chats, and he’s asked to come on other walks whenever he can when he’s not in school.

This just goes to show that this effective walking, and the groups run by Bart and Ewa are suitable for so many … all genders … all ages …. all abilities. And how lovely is it that all this mix of people can be enjoying the same activity, and all benefitting from the enjoyment, and from the mental and physical wellbeing it brings. We’re fortunate to be a family who enjoy time together, and certainly love to explore and be out and about, but to observe Oliver appreciating being outdoors, walking, noticing, enjoying walking effectively, learning about his body, learning so much as we walk and talk, interacting with so many … hopefully this love of walking and the outdoors will stay with him throughout his life.

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