Something that slowly dawned upon me, as I gazed at the green fields from my office window, was that if I don’t do some form of exercise I will turn into a rotund country gent with rosy cheeks who breaks into a sweat just by flicking the pages of Cotswold Life.
Oh, and Cotswold life is a glossy, self-congratulatory lifestyle magazine about living in the Cotswolds and how simply splendid that is. It is designed borrowing the palette of Mark 1 Land Rover interiors and then Photoshopping their photos within an inch, of their grainy, soft-focus lives. They then treat the photos with a faux painterly effect that makes me want to delete all my filters as soon as I humanly can. Think: urbane rustic. Or: cowshit on an Audi. I will (badly, I imagine) attempt to emulate a Costwold Life article:
Lower Slaughter: Every year in Lower Slaughter, Felicity Singden-Smith-Beauforteunse, organises the annual village fete and pig dressing competition, Sod’s Sowstyle. ‘It’s terribly difficult after dropping Tilly off at polo, and Milly off at pony club and Gilly off at the marmalade making society to find the time to do it – but I simply had to after I heard that Cotswold Life was going to be there,’ said Felicity. Tickets can be purchased at the church, please bring bring proof of Audi ownership and some Hunter wellies.
You get the idea – but back on subject, keeping fit in La Campagne is trickier than you think. I thought I’d be striding across the countryside, thwacking aside shrubs as I consulted my OS pathfinder map as to where the next cosy, country pub would be. Not that easy, it turns out.
Summertime is great, I can whip out the mountain bike or my (frowned upon) road bike any evening in the week and coast along country lanes, dust motes in the air, hot-air balloonists waving at me (this actually happened to me) and I almost reminisce about the moment – it can be so perfect.
But…cycling used to be my commute, I used to actually go somewhere, whereas cycling just to keep fit feels a bit…I dunno, odd. I know, obviously, that keeping fit in itself is the purpose; and that is always important to me. But doing a big circuit and then passing through picture-perfect village after village feels like Groundhog Day.
This is why exercising in the middle of nowhere is difficult, and these are the options that you have:
- Cycling. As I said, great in summertime. But all the roads have a 60mph limit and, boy, do people use that limit. There is nothing quite as frightening as being on a single track road and a Landie rocks past you at 60mph. In winter, it is just miserable – dark, cold, wet and muddy. So you have to light yourself up like a christmas tree and hope to not get killed; like Tron with muck.
- Running. I like running, but the hills around here are bloody murder. Running should be slightly pleasurable, but pulling my skinny Irish arse up these hills is putting me right off.
- Walking. I know that it is said that a 20min walk is comparable to a 20min run – but come on, that is surely total bunkum? I think I’d have to walk for, like, 2 hours and I just don’t have the time.
- Gym. The nearest gym is in Swindon and that makes it doubly worse. Firstly, I don’t like Swindon, who does? Secondly, I don’t like gyms – I feel like one of the babies in the Matrix, burning my energy in some big machine.
- Exercise Videos. Honestly, me? Exercise video? I’d rather take the engine out of the car and live like the Flintstones.
The end of all this is that I run. It’s the least hassle, has the best return (fitness wise) and is relatively weather independent.
I just don’t do enough of it.