In our never ending quest to find fun ways to stay fit the girls and I decided to try roller-blading in the park this weekend.
Blading is not as easy as it looks although we were slightly cocky in our ability at first. While picking up our hire skates from a shop over the road from the Hyde Park we piffed at the offer of a £15 hours beginners lesson - I mean how hard can it be? I used to go to rollerworld in derby every week, and I was, like, really good - I could go backwards and EVERYTHING! Wrist guards? No thanks - they are for geeks.
However, our arrival at the park told a different story. We strapped ourselves into our roller-blades and found it not to be quite as easy as I remembered. Que lots of squealing, wobbling around and curses that we had not got the wrist guards. After a few minutes though we managed to find our feet, secured our balance and set off along the path. It was a quite a crisp Sunday afternoon but there were still plenty of people out and about, including cyclists, joggers with prams and religious fanatics all of whom we managed to wobble past without mishap.
Soon enough we were whizzing along the open path and starting to quite enjoy ourselves even to the point of confidence, especially me and S who started picking up quite a bit of speed... which was all well and good until we saw the path ahead drop down a hill. And then realised we'd missed out the small factor of practicing how to stop before setting off.
I knew this could be bad. We were getting faster and the slope downwards was getting steeper. The path led down towards a road that ran through the park leading onto the busy main roads that circle Hype Park, and was separated by bollards and a curb. If there was a hazard perception test for roller-bladers this would involve a LOT of clicking right now.
I started squeeling and manged to skate onto a grass verge, which didn't actually stop me but send me whizzing back the other way only to crash straight into a lampost - which luckily stopped me. Meanwhile S went screaming and whizzing past me, straight down the hill and round a bend at the bottom towards the main road. Luckily she fell over before she got there. Meanwhile along came F in a flurry of frantic arm waving screaming her head off unable to stop. She too went arse over tits.
EVERYONE was staring at us and laughing. Frank Spencer move over. I was hanging onto the lampost for dear life, laughing harder than I have laughed in a long time just happy to be alive and unbroken. F and S were laughing too, trying to pick themselves up off the floor which, dear reader, is not the easiest of things to do with wheels strapped to your feet.
Luckily one of the regular skaters witnessed the commotion, came and rescued me from clinging on to the lampost at the top of the hill and gave us a lesson into how to stop, and then hung out with us for a while to make sure we were ok. I also managed to fall into the sandpit that runs next the path for the horses to ride on as I tried to turn round to talk to someone behind me.
More practice is definitely needed, but once we had mastered the basics we had an amazing afternoon skating up and down the (hill free) road. Blading is fantastic exercise for the thighs and bottom, and I could really feel it the next day. I had no idea that an afternoon of physical activity could be so much fun, or that such a lovely community existed there. Apparently each weekend a regular crowd gathers in the park to blade, skate and hang out - on sunny days there is even music courtesy of a DJ powered with a car battery. And these are not your stereotypical crusty (sorry) skater types, but a real mix of people from all walks of life who just like to skate.
We have planned our next outing, and S is even considering buying her own blades to save on the hire charge. I wonder if this will become a new hobby for me, or just another of my fads? Either way, it was the best Sunday afternoon I've had in London in a long time.