There’s no such thing as cold weather, just unsuitable transport

I’ve been thinking for a while that, marvellous as the bus is, the girls should try to get to school under their own steam and get some exercise – even if just once a week.

Then London bus drivers played straight into my hands by going on strike on Tuesday. Clearly, we could not use the car, as every car journey means another drowned polar bear cub (as the Cutester firmly believes. I’m more concerned about Londoners dying from my diesel fumes). So we decided to scoot.

I was surprised at how out of shape we all were. The journey is over 1.5 miles with a lot of uphill, and my legs were already aching at the end of our street. (For once, at least, it was the Cutester who led the way and left us in her dust.) What made it definitely worthwhile though was overtaking the queue on the main road of people who’d jumped in their cars in the absence of a bus. ‘Smug’ doesn’t begin to cover it. And hopefully, if we can just do this consistently once a week it will be less effort each time.

Smug and snug. I had to take my coat off early on and scoot with it over the handlebars of my scooter. I’m getting used to feeling warm outdoors this winter – my daily exercise consists of walking to school for the afternoon pick-up, and as I never seem to be able to leave the house on time, it’s a seriously brisk walk. I arrive in the playground panting and peeling off layers of clothing, while the other mums look at me strangely and pull their scarfs tighter.

I don’t know if the title of this post is really fair – it certainly doesn’t apply to places with real weather like Scotland. But there’s something in it. On Wednesday I was invited out to a drink in a pub I would have driven to before my car-free experiment last year (about 1.5 miles again). Cycling there was a doddle, and a joy. It was probably close to freezing, closer on the way home, when there was also cold rain in my face. But I did not feel at all cold wearing a wool jacket, jeans and leather gloves topped with waterproof trousers and hi-vis waterproof top. The only sensation of cold was round my head and ears, and that was actually quite pleasant. Yet had I seen myself cycling past in the cold, dark and rain, I might have felt sorry for myself…

Maybe the climate of this country is habitable after all. You just have to keep moving – under your own steam.

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