There is wildness in us all, but in most of us it’s latent, sleeping, unused. Wild we are in our deeper selves: we are hunter-gatherers in suits and dresses and jeans and T-shirts. We have been civilised – tame – for less than 1 percent of our existence as a species.
Simon Barnes, Rewild Yourself
Suzanne Baboneau, Managing Director of Adult Publishing at Simon & Schuster, probably didn’t set out to rewild herself the morning she left her home on one side of London at some ungodly hour and walked pretty much to the other side of the city just to get to work. It was miles. There is a perfectly good underground system. What was she thinking?
“I was thinking: ‘I’ve just turned 60 and I wonder what I could do to help keep myself active.’ It just came to me as a challenge. From where I live at Shepherd’s Bush to where I work at Grays Inn Road: could I do the walk physically? How long would it take? I seem to remember there were tube strikes at the time so that was another incentive. My daughters had grown up. I didn’t have to do the school run any more. I liked walking. Why not?
“It might be something I’d do a couple of times and then give up. Maybe it would take too long. Maybe I’d get to work exhausted. Maybe it was just plain crazy. That was three years ago. I still do it every morning.
“I owe a lot to the Royal Parks. The vast majority of the walk is through beautiful green spaces and attractive back roads. I’ve seen glorious sunrises, families of swans, geese flying in formation. It is like walking through the countryside in one of the biggest, busiest cities in the world. It’s extraordinary.
“I vary the route from day to day but it’s roughly west to east from Shepherd’s Bush Green to Holland Park to Kensington Gardens. The Italian Garden and the pond there are favourites of mine. Then into Hyde Park where I see people like me every morning: runners, joggers, dog walkers – all part of the same early bird community.
“Marble Arch is always a bit of a shock to the system, with its reams of traffic and noise and construction but once navigated the back roads offer peace again. The BT Tower is sometimes lit up with a message that says “Good Morning London”. I take that as a personal greeting. I reach work before 9am and instead of feeling tired, I feel better, energised and ready.
“It’s never boring, the walk. Every day is different. I see the changing of the seasons, I vary the route and I don’t care about the weather. My friends say: ‘But what if it’s raining?’ I say” ‘I put up an umbrella.” Sometimes I hum to myself. Sometimes I’m pondering a book title. You can definitely work as you walk. Things come to you. But above all it is just wonderful to look about you, take in nature, be part of nature and make the time to build it into your everyday life. I hardly notice I’m walking 12 miles a day. I’m just going to work my way.
“It’s simple. It’s free. I didn’t realise at first that I’m rewilding myself – to borrow Simon’s phrase – every morning. But that’s exactly what I’m doing. There’s a rhythm and a quietness and a contemplative element to a walk and it has brought me great joy.”
Huge thanks to Suzanne and Simon & Schuster for sponsoring with copies of this wonderful book “REWILD YOURSELF” by the brilliant wildlife writer Simon Barnes at a major Stepping Out event this year. Details coming soon.
ON THE BOOK: “Whether you’ve in the city or suburbs or deep countryside, this book will bring you closer to the nature that exists all around you. You can always be where the wild things are. These days non-human life walsh’s seems to be just over the horizon – but with the smallest alteration all this can change. This book is designed to make that happen.”