Still Bill

Last week I wrote about how I was coming to the end of a very long and enjoyable audio book. I asked what I should listen to next and was overwhelmed with suggestions – thank you to everyone who recommended books and podcasts for me to try.

A few people mentioned author Bill Bryson, and I remembered that I’d enjoyed his writing before so I bought the audio version of his book about travelling around Britain – Notes From A Small Island.

I’ve been listening to it for the last few days, and have found it really relaxing. While Bill occasionally takes the train, most of his travels are on foot. It might sound a bit strange that I’m enjoying a book about walking while I’m lying down and going nowhere myself, but I’ve loved it.

Walking’s always been really important to me. As a teenager I used to walk the dog for hours at a time while listening to school lessons I’d recorded. I’m sure this was a big part of why I did better academically than anyone was expecting. In class I found it hard to focus while sitting down because most of my attention went on trying to sit still and appear ‘normal’. But while out walking I was able to follow and absorb the information much more readily.

Later, when I was a college, I used to walk an hour and half to and from the campus. This time was precious – it gave me space to get energised in the morning and to unwind after a long day. I used it to mull over ideas, and it meant I got to connect with my city in a much deeper way.

Walking was also my main coping strategy for managing stressful situations, or times when I felt sad or frustrated. As my mobility has deteriorated, one of the biggest adjustments I had to make was to the way I managed pressure, because walking’s become wheeling, and wheeling’s not a safe solo activity for me.

Walking around Britain with Bill, at the times when I need to rest, feels totally natural to me. On a few occasions his descriptions have been so captivating that I’d be lying if I said I haven’t felt a twinge of envy that this isn’t something I can do as easily or independently as I’d like. Generally though, Bill’s book has been totally absorbing, and its pace has perfectly matched my resting body.

I’ve almost finished it already though but thankfully I’ve had loads more great suggestions for me to try.

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