I’ve never believed in unnatural exercise; the thought of going to a gym with all those horrific torture machines could give me nightmares, let alone paying to use them.

I’ve never run for a bus!

Hanging from wall bars in the school gym, or attempting to leap over the ‘horse’, are memories I try to keep out of my head. Even running, or jogging, for no good reason has seemed to me a ridiculous activity (I’ve never run for a bus or train – there’s always another – though I’ve rarely missed one as I’m outrageously punctual!), especially as it’s likely to ruin your knees. So when, at school, we were sent on a run because the ground was too hard for rugby, I rapidly found a culvert near to the start in which to hide till the runners came back, meanwhile having a fag or two (an addiction I shed many, many years ago).

Rugby

Despite my aversion to running, I enjoyed running as a winger for rugby as I was able to run faster for short distances than most of my fellows and had the exhilaration of diving over the line with the ball in my hands.

Walking

On the other hand, as a tyke I’ve been walking for most of my life, mostly on the Yorkshire moors or in the Romanian mountains. It began at three years old with my grandmother (who always brought an apple, a bar of Terry’s bitter chocolate and a wedge of Wensleydale cheese as refreshment). Until about six years ago I thought little of doing up to 30 miles in a day. Then those walks had to cease due to health and since then I was able to do only up to a couple of miles on the flat, rarely, on a good day. Nevertheless, Petronela and I walked as much as I was able.

Cycling

I once (1995 or ‘96) cycled across northern Romania, from Maramureș to Suceava city, on a cobbled together bike, having not been on a bike for about 40 years. It included 26 consecutive hairpins to climb over one of the passes.

Romanians thought I was crazy; I enjoyed it but it confirmed my view that walking was better. I didn’t see one other biker; there are many now. I did see a lot of dogs, most of which attacked me, met many fascinating people, and received three proposals of marriage!

Confinement

So, confined to our flat on the instructions of both our medical consultants, we miss the walks, close to home where we have many beautiful walks or, with a short car ride, further afield. We were also aware that just sitting about was not good. So, for the first time I’ve taken up some ‘unnatural exercise’.

Back and forth across our sitting room fifty times is 1km. That’s enough for me in one go though just meandering about the flat, cooking etc, probably adds another kilometre. Petronela is way ahead: she’s on 8km in a day at the moment! I can hardly believe that because she is not a ‘walker’, complaining continuously when I once took her on a 3 mile walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal to Shipley (one of my childhood playgrounds).

Another thing I never thought I’d do was exercise with dumbbells, but Petronela has two of 1.5kg. So I’ve joined her in using those!

Odd behaviour for me, but thank heavens we are now able to stop keeping two metres between us. Now that was really odd!