The Walk and Talk Club offers a way for people to get mobile, make new friends and, most importantly, take a much-needed break from the rat race.
Walk and Talk Club is about health and meditation. Research has demonstrated the overall benefits walking has on our health: not only can it help you shed those extra pounds, but it can reduce the risk of heart disease and other health conditions, keep your mind sharp, and promote a good night’s sleep. The meditative aspect comes from the walks, which are undertaken in silence, with the social side happening afterwards.
I joined the club on one of their healthy living events: a Sunday walk to the farmer’s market to buy fresh produce, followed by a Tuesday walk to a restaurant where the produce was prepared for lunch. A small group had already formed by the time I arrived for the walk, and they were quick to make me feel welcome, as well as tell me why the club was so popular. Flora, one of the club’s founders, spelled it out: “People spend their whole lives living in an area, but never take the time to discover all it really has to offer. Spend a few hours with us and we’ll show you a different side to the place you call home.”
Initially, as a renowned chatterbox, I struggled with the ‘no talking’ rule but after a few minutes (and a few whispered questions) it was easy to see why the silence is enforced. It gives you a new perspective, both on what’s going on around you and also what’s going on in your head. This isn’t a voyage of self-discovery though – these guys walk fast, and if you spend too much time musing you’ll find yourself playing catch up with an 80-year-old in hiking boots (and from experience that’s not as easy as you’d think).
After the 30-minute walk we stopped to refresh at the Grove Café, where we were permitted to break the silence. Booming out of the open doors came the first few bars of We No Speak Americano quickly followed by Ciro (the café’s thoroughly Italian owner), who was carrying an inflatable guitar and giving out funny hats and novelty sunglasses. His personality was infectious and within seconds everyone was clapping, singing and laughing so hard it hurt. This is the kind of ridiculousness that most adults rarely indulge in – a joy for the soul.
Brimming with positive energy, we set off for the last part of the walk to Alexandra Palace Farmers’ Market where the final activity of the day (apart from pondering how to get our hips to move like Ciro’s) was to hunt down some fresh seasonable produce. After hearing from some of the traders about their approach to bio-dynamic farming (where the ecological, spiritual, social and ethical combine), we left laden with a cornucopia of seasonal veg, plus some locally produced eggs and goat’s cheese thrown in for good measure.
It was on a slightly damp Tuesday that we found ourselves arriving at Chriskitch – the perfect spot for sharing food, coffee and stories. The chef, Chris Honor, arrived with a selection of platters, overflowing with our farmers’ market finds, transformed from a collection of muddy roots into a healthy feast.
Chris’s creations were fresh and packed full of flavour, drawing on influences from around the world. Mushrooms grilled and dressed with chilli and lime. Squash, dripping with tahini, sumac and honey blossom. Celeriac, roasted with capers, topped with gloriously oozy poached eggs and hard goat’s cheese. And the show stopper? A towering plate of raw beetroot salad. Sliced thinly, then prepared as a quick pickle, the crunchy bites of beet were complemented by crisp green apples, dill and pomegranate.
Accompanied by new friends and interesting conversation (did you know honey goes through the stomachs of three bees before it reaches us?), Walk and Talk Club well and truly proved to me that being healthy shouldn’t be a chore, no matter what age you are. Bringing mind and body together to create a sense of wellbeing and belonging is not just enjoyable, but once you get going it is pretty easy – particularly when you’re part of the Walk and Talk community.