Friday, March 09, 2018

The Case for Walking

We had planned to rent a car while staying in England.
A 30-minute train ride from London, on the edge of National Trust land, we didn't want to be stranded in the country.
The view from a hill. 
But, as I explained in an earlier post, the $323 cost to rent the car for 18 days more than doubled to 500 pounds when we arrived, which equals nearly $750. I couldn't justify it.
"We'll walk," I declared. And 500 pounds would pay for 50 taxi rides that cost 10 pounds. I bet we wouldn't have that many.
I had no idea how close their house was to town, so the morning before the homeowners left, we went to the grocery store and threw in a number of things to tide us over -- pasta and sauce and lunch meat and bread, apples and bananas and yogurt and cookies. I knew they had eggs and potatoes so I could make due with omelets or roasted potatoes if we needed to.
The next morning on an exploratory run, I discovered that downtown was only a mile away. Since then, we've been making trips every few days so we can carry home what we need.
We've only taken one taxi ride, coming home from the train station at 11:30 at night in the snow. Other than that, we have walked.
And I might be a convert to the idea of walking on vacation rather than renting a car. In addition to saving money on the cost of the car, we haven't need to fill it up, argue about parking or who will drive or getting lost (although we have gotten lost while walking). We haven't need to worry about dings from cars parked next to us. No car has equaled extra peace of mind.
It may be true that we haven't done some things we might have with a car. Apparently Box Hill, located in the hills to our west, was the picnic scene in Jane Austen's Emma where Emma criticized Miss Bates. Perhaps we would have taken the dogs to walk on the heath, wherever the heath is. We probably would have driven to town and spatted about parking spaces.
But walking has let us explore parts of town we might never have seen.
Like this building from 1626
Can you see the numbers on the center peak of the house? 
Or this one with the interestingly shaped windows.
Mind you, I wouldn't want to pay for new windows. They'd definitely be special order.
We have walked the dogs to town twice (keeping them on a leash) and meandered around the lake at Priory Park. Who knows, we might have been rushing to a tourist destination rather than taking the time to explore the city.
Swans and ducks abound in this lake in Priory Park

Which is why Minnow dived into the lake to try to catch a bird
We've window shopped (noticing that pink is the color this spring) and we've tested coffee in most every non-Starbucks in town.
We've learned about local customs, like when to say Good Morning or Cheers or nothing.
Exercise is another benefit to not renting a car. Some days, like today, my Fitbit reads 24,000 steps or more.
And we've taken interesting photos, like this one. 
The berry clumps are gorgeous. 
And if we hadn't been walking, would we have noticed this sign? Perhaps not just a sign, but "a sign."

I have to agree
Maybe renting a car won't be such a priority in the future. 


Jeanie said...

Great sign! And good for you. That walking has to be good, financially and physically and look at all you've seen! It's sure good to know that is an option.

Anonymous said...

I love that sign. Perfect.
You are 100% right about walking. Especially as there are two of you, so even if it gets dark, you aren't alone on a road.

Jacqueline Brown said...

I think you made the right decision. I may have learned to drive in UK, but I hate driving there now. In comparison to France there are so many vehicles, it is way too congested for me to feel at ease driving.

Just Me said...

Sweet ! 🤗

Sim Carter said...

I had to go back to your old posts to see where you were! Reigate is about ten miles from my grandmother's old house in Epsom. I think my mother was born somewhere in Surrey too. Looking at the map, I saw Tunbridge Wells is in the area but that the only way to get there without a car is to train into London first and then take a train from there: a whopping two hours all together. That must be why Mark and I, who also flew into Gatwick, didn't go.

We did a ton of walking in Europe — 24000 days not at all unusual and we've tried to do that back here at home, taking a more relaxed approach to our days. Sometimes we'll grab our recyclable bags and walk the short 1/2 mile to the grocery store. The distance is nothing and if we shop carefully, and balance the loads properly carrying two bags each home is not a big deal. I like having a goal like that for my walks—walking to post a letter, walking to the Beverly Center to shop for a birthday present, walk to the library , etc. But we certainly don't see all the beautiful places you're seeing.

It must be nice being in England where you don't have the language issue but I'll bet you're missing France. When do you go back?

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