Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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Tai Chi and gardens

I started learning Tai Chi last year, and really enjoy it. It’s calm and gentle, but it really helps to loosen up my neck and shoulders after too much computer slumping.

Apparently, it is World Tai Chi Day, where people all round the world are taking part in Tai Chi sessions at 10 am, sending a wave of peace and calmness round the world’s time zones.  I rather liked that idea, so I joined in a lovely session this morning in a village garden, along with bees, birds and flowers.  Beautiful!

If you’ve never tried Tai Chi, and get a chance, do try it.

The green and purple border is at Coton Manor garden, near Northampton, which we visited a few days ago.  That would be a lovely place to do Tai Chi too.  Those purple tulips have amazing fringes along the edges of the petals – very strange.

The flamingoes are free-range, and they move as though they are doing Tai Chi, placing their feet oh-so-carefully.

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A year of healthy changes

My year of health-based changes – a response to this health and wellness prompt.

Last summer I found out that I was coeliac, and needed to cut out gluten from my diet. No bread, pasta, pastry, cakes… Yes, I do miss them sometimes, and reading packets for ‘hidden’ gluten can be tedious. Some complete supermarket aisles are off-limits for me. It also make eating with others more complicated (Do I ask about ingredients or just eat lettuce and tomato?), but to be honest, I think I’m pretty fortunate. Someone else at work had similar symptoms at the same time, and had to have surgery for bowel cancer. All I’ve had to do is change my diet.

rice cakes

I discovered that I really like rice cakes a few months before being diagnosed as coeliac. Very convenient for lunches and on holiday.

Mrs Crimble's Jam Coconut Rings - gluten free and mmmmmmm!

Mrs Crimble’s Jam Coconut Rings – gluten free and mmmmmmm! I may have eaten rather too many of these.

In December I started the NHS couch to 5k running programme. It hasn’t all been easy – there have been some bumpy patches on the way, and weeks with very little running, but overall it has made me fitter, and changed the way I see myself. Most runners seem to run further and faster than me (and some dog-walkers are still faster), but I have repeatedly surprised myself with what I can manage, and that has made me stronger.

Along with running, I re-discovered yoga, after a 20-year break. Yoga has really helped me improve my posture, always pretty poor, and getting worse from too many laptop hours.

My most recent wellness move has been to find out more about mindfulness meditation. The yoga had started me off, and the web and various books have helped me on my way. I took some convincing that it could work for me, an obsessive-compulsive worrier, but I can definitely feel a real change.

I love being able to find little patches of calm and quiet – even a few seconds focusing on breathing or hearing the sounds around me can open up space when my mind starts whirling, and longer sessions give me time to catch up and slow down. If you’ve never tried it, go and read up on mindfulness meditation now!

So, what health changes should I try next?