…  Going For A Stroll

So where were we? 

You might remember a while ago I’d decided to go on a weight loss kick. … Losing Weight

Well, while I’ve been in the planning stages the paunch has sought re-enforcements and so changes need made.

But finding time for exercise isn’t easy. 

The efficient Mrs Dr Brown does her weekly school drop-off in her running stuff so she can go on a run directly from there, saving time and minimising the chance of being side-tracked and missing a workout.  I tried the same technique but when I turned up in my Speedos at drop off the rest of the parents complained to the head teacher, so I never got to the pool.

So how about a nice walk?

But where to start?

10,000 steps, right?


Do you know where the 10,000 comes from?  Rigorous placebo-controlled trials looking at cardiovascular outcomes and mortality data?


A Japanese toy manufacturer plucked the figure out of the air in 1964 to sell more pedometers because it was a nice round number and the Japanese figure for ten thousand looks pleasingly like a stick-figure walking.

Illustration by the boy, age 10. Thank you.

But in true DrBrownIsGettingBetter.com spirit of making the mistakes so you don’t have to, I’ve even managed to mess up going for a walk.

Here’s the (regrettably true) story.

There is real science now (as an NHS GP I do actually do this for a living, remember) that to get a good habit to stick, you have to find a slot in your week to fit it in – think Mrs Dr Brown’s post drop-off run or my pre-swim warning letter from the school PTA.

I therefore take my pedometer for a walk late in the evening once Child A and Child B have settled to bed.

But as they’ve got older and bedtime has shifted, this is getting progressively later.

That’s fine because I find walking in the dark more peaceful.  There’s less traffic so I can stick in my headphones and stroll safely about the streets of leafy suburban Manchester.

Nothing could be nicer.

I do have to be a bit cautious though, because some of the resident’s Facebook and WhatsApp groups started warning that there was a large, strange man wandering the streets late at night.  Fortunately I never saw him.

But back to my story.

On a silent, moonlit winters night I noted a garden security light flash on, and I realised it had been triggered by a beautiful adult fox calmly walking across someone’s front lawn.

I don’t live in the countryside, so these aren’t massively common.  So in true BBC Winterwatch style I paused, unplugged the headphones and took a minute watch the fox pass.  I truly believe it paused, made eye contact with me, and there was a brief connection of kindred nocturnal spirits, before it passed on its way. 

A beautiful, personal and rare moment of interaction with nature.

But I then glanced up to see an elderly lady, also clearly drawn by her security light activating, looking horrorstruck out her upstairs window to see a large man in an overcoat standing stock still at the end of her garden staring up at her house.

Now, thinking myself into her shoes I can imagine said large man in overcoat staring up at her house might have been unsettling.  And I am nothing if not empathetic and emotionally intelligent.  So I felt I had to reassure her.

So I didn’t seem like a burglar trying not to be seen, I decided that openly  acknowledging her would be the most reassuring thing.

So I waved.

I waved!

I mean, for heaven’s sake, Brown!  You can’t just stand in the street and wave at old ladies late at night!

I realised I may have made things worse.

And with the initial foxwatching and now this amount of overthinking, I must have been looking up at her house for several minutes.

I was on the cusp of walking up her drive to ring the doorbell to explain I wasn’t a sinister escaped convict etc but again felt that a stranger banging your door late at night might make things worse still. 

Then I had an idea.

How to reassure and explain in one easy step.


What could possibly go wrong?

Reader… I mimed the fox.


Pointy ears… big swishy tail…then pointed into the hedge where it had disappeared.

It was dark, and I was some distance away, but I think at that point she may have started to weep.

Anyway, the up-to-now relative calm of my evening stroll was then interrupted by the roar and flashing lights of two police cars, coincidentally driving up the same road towards where I was standing. So I popped my headphones back in and headed off to finish my walk.

Incidentally, it turns out I had a lucky escape because the next day the local Facebook and WhatApp groups were going bananas about the strange prowler walking the streets at night and frightening the residents, and from what I can work out I must have only just missed him!

8 thoughts on “…  Going For A Stroll

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