Gone Running? Not yet …

The last time I went to Venice it was one of those “I’ll go to Venice and everything’ll be alright” times.  I was learning to walk again after months with my leg in the air or, encased in plaster to the knee, hopping tentatively behind my walker to the bathroom or down those few terrifying steps to the terrace in the garden.  Too many stairs around me, too much mayhem on the roads, I was making heavy weather of it when one day I just knew:  what I needed was a trip to Venice.  “Venice?” you ask.  Yes, Venice, where only film stars can avoid walking, and each painful step is twice rewarded by the magnetism of the place.  To give the expedition a social twist (acquaintances become a little tired of visiting, after the first couple of unreciprocated visits), and to give purpose to my daily excursions, I enrolled in a photography workshop.

In preparation, I had Bandula, the trainer, came to bully all those atrophied muscles (from head to toe, and to the furthest extremities of my fingertips) five days a week.  I augmented his efforts by submitting to the pulse massagers, and other healing gadgets of HM Perera, the Physio, on three afternoons a week.  I even took a flying (in our little seaplane) but unsuccessful visit to Thalpe for walking practice.  And of course, I had a wardrobe of cool weather clothes to sew or alter.

It was all an exciting whirl and right up till the moment I took off it seemed it might be the height of folly to be thinking of going anywhere, let alone Venice.  But I’m nothing if not determined (especially where Venice is concerned) and so, fool, or visionary (I know which Ma would have nominated), off I went!

Visionary I am – unswerving in my belief in the potent power of Venice to entice me out to explore endlessly and thus to full recovery – but I did recognise I might benefit from an intermediate step.  And in any case, my oldest friend lives in Switzerland, and where better to practice walking than in Switzerland, where it’s the national pass-time?  During the ten days I spent with S, we took daily walks in the forests and valleys around her village, or around the summits of a couple of mountains we went to, gradually building up to around 1,000 or more steps a day (recorded on the pedometer I bought, I could see how useful it was going to be!).

Ha!  Wasn’t enough.  All of a sudden, there I was in Venice, on two-or three-hour location shoots, where we were walking 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and one day, over 6,600 steps!  My goodness…  Gradually I began to see improvement and the reward for my efforts was being able to penetrate deeper and deeper into breathtaking Venice.  For me, the city is a fantasy, a wild and vivid fantasy – the manifestation of man’s most fervid dreams, of power, and corruption.  At every turn the magic of the place still astounds me.

But I digress.  At New Years I followed the music for a few vertiginous steps around the dark, dazzling, dizzying dance floor, and the other day I was prompted by nothing but high spirits to take Maggie by the paws and do a little jig.  But today I ran.  Not the great loping strides of a runner, but I ran.  Already I feel a new sense of freedom, a physical confidence I haven’t felt since I fell down those stairs, on the 5th of February last year.

You understand now why I have such faith in the power of Venice?  It won’t be long now before my answer will be “yes, I went running”.

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P.S.   For those of you appalled by my apparent profligacy, I have no excuses.  I’m not wealthy (in fact my financial situation is, as it has been all my life, parlous), but there’s nothing I can do about it – the Wanderlust Gene is not recessive, and must be accommodated.  And for a few weeks in Venice, dear reader, I will gladly forego my favourite foods, champagne (or wine, or any other alcohol, for that matter), flowers, trips to the theatre, the patronage of painters, even the purchase of books, fashionable clothing, eating out in restaurants with friends, pretty well anything.  Just so that’s understood.

45 thoughts on “Gone Running? Not yet …

      • ,you show immense courage – and great photographic skills. Like you with your running, today I passed the milestone of first drive since I went into hospital: all the way up to the village, about 250 yards!

        • Haaa! That’s fabulous, Viv. And do you have wings, now? The Global Garnish Geek just reminded me how recovery allows us to be more mindful about what we used to take for granted, and that is indeed true. But I’ve noticed it has also made me aware of how brave Ma was, in getting her mobility back after the stroke, and it also makes me think differently about the future – I’ve had a glimpse of how life may well be, when I’m older, more frail. Woooo – try not to go there, but it’s good that it’s in the back of my mind. By the way – is the float finished? When’s the procession?

          • A long way from being finished – of our share of the task, 1 panel is finished all bar a bit of grass (shortage of green), the second is well on the way, and the third little one barely started. I have almost finished making the patchwork for the tabards, but there’s also the whole bed of the float (chess board) plus a castle and a tower (for the lorry exhaust) and goodness knows what else! Carneval is 10th/11th July.

            • Oooo yes, I see, quite a lot more to do, but from what we saw the other day, it will be a float to elicit ooohs and aaahs, and not a little envy. Will there be dancing? I do love a procession, with music, and dancing, and elaborately dressed vehicles:) Mid-summer. I’ll try to remember but I do want to see (always want to see).

            • Marching bands before and after each float. They do have a dance in the Salle de Fêtes, the night after, but my dancing days are done. The best bit for me is when it gets dark and they process with torches back whence they came (actually a hangar just outside the village)

    • Me too! Though I’m hardly an expert, since scrimping and saving is the only way I’ve been able to fund this life of mine. But yes, the process of saving, researching, planning – stoking the anticipation and excitement – all adds to the experience.

  1. You picked two incredibly beautiful spots to recover and build up your health, and I am so glad that you were successful. When we were in Italy, my son took it upon himself, at the end of each day, to give us the daily stair count, which was considerable, once you add up all the grand churches, cathedral domes, bell towers, and steep winding streets. We had pizza and pasta, but with all the walking and climbing, didn’t gain a pound. And Switzerland is incredibly beautiful, green, lush, and tidy. Where else can you take an elevator to the top of the mountain, go on a wilderness hike, and find a little cafe to buy a cup of Ovaltine above the tree line?

    • Where else, indeed? I’ve been visiting Switzerland since 1972 and until this last visit had never quite appreciated just how extensive – and venerable – the hiking infrastructure was. And how as a walker, one became part of an unusually chummy community. Now, I want to know, what was your highest daily step count when you were in Italy – 20,000?

  2. I would too…give up all that and more for a few nights in magical Venice! Cannot begin to imagine how you managed though! Thank you for a wonderful post and for teaching me another new word – parlous!

    • Ahha – I wonder how many others of us would give up all the frivolous things for a trip to Venice. Managing was a project in itself – I think that’s the best way to describe it, Madhu. But I did, and now I’m almost ready to go running. Parlous – a good word, though rarely used these days of easy credit, I fear:)

  3. “And for a few weeks in Venice, dear reader, I will gladly forego my favourite foods, champagne (or wine, or any other alcohol, for that matter), flowers, trips to the theatre, the patronage of painters, even the purchase of books, fashionable clothing, eating out in restaurants with friends, pretty well anything. Just so that’s understood.” This made me laugh out loud — then I smiled, thinking, quite definitely, “that is a woman to be reckoned with.”

    • Just so long as you got the picture, Cara!!!!:) It is a bit self-indulgent, I know, but I don’t have children, and I do do things for others too, truly. Not so sure about a woman to be reckoned with, but yes, pretty determined if it’s important. Thanks, dear for our valuable feedback.

    • It’s better warn you, it’s a life commitment: once smitten, we have to feed our addiction at regular intervals, cause if you’ve got it bad, you just can’t get enough of Venice. I’ve got it – I was bewitched by a water sprite.

  4. so inspiring to hear your healing journey, i really believe that nature is healing, and now i must acknowledge cities too! i am sure you soon will be running! i am hoping to walk in the Swiss mountains in September, only for a day or two, the flowers are amazing there, and the butterflies 😀

    • Ah, yes, the Alps in late summer, fabulous! Pick me a Gentian with your camera please – with a bit of luck they should still be flowering.
      By the way, I think that anything that triggers our minds can be a force for healing. It’s just that nature seems to be a very direct route back to our original elements – out of ourselves, in other words, allowing the brain to do it’s thing without all the garbage we muddy ourselves with. Thank you for your positive thoughts on my recovery.

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