Walking songs

culture

The recent snow has made cycling to work impossible. Some brave (or foolish) souls have been cycling along the main roads, but my route goes through parks and other open spaces where it's certain that very little gritting will have been done. I'm also a total coward when it comes to riding in icy conditions. I have a Weeble1 like ability to stay upright — despite slipping — when on foot, but I crash to the ground on a bike at the first wobble on ice.

Usually when I can't ride to work for whatever reason, I take the train, but I decided (for reasons of economy and fitness) to try walking at least one way to work this past week. The plan was to walk the 4.8 miles to work2 in the morning, and then catch the train back again. It isn't a huge distance, and it ended up taking me an hour and 10 minutes at a brisk pace, even negotiating the snowy pavements. I had to get up earlier, but it was really pleasant getting into a good walking rhythm, watching dawn break, and having the route mostly to myself for the first part at least.

On Friday afternoon, there were signalling problems at Birmingham New Street, and consequently much of the local network was thrown into disarray. Mr. Bsag called me to say that there were cancellations noted for at least the next hour, so I decided that I might as well walk home too.

I had been quite cold in the office during the day, and the chill persisted despite the exercise, so half way home I felt rather weary. I was listening to my iPhone on shuffle, and just at that moment, the track Ma' Africa by Ulali and the Mahotella Queens (from the album '1 Giant Leap') came on. As soon as it started, I felt instantly warmed, thinking about hot, African landscapes, and within a few minutes I was almost bounding up the hill, a spring in my step, admiring the way that the setting sun was washing the snow with pink and smoky grey.

If the snow continues, I can see I'll have to put Ma' Africa on repeat, particularly when travelling home.

1 Thank you low centre of gravity!

2 A different route to the one I cycle, which is longer, but more cycle-friendly.

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