Most weekends I do three 'pay what you want' walks around London. On Saturday morning, eight people joined me for the walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's cathedral. Over the last few years, I've done a few walks with people from CAFOD (Catholic Aid for Overseas Development). Father George from Sri Lanka and Atul and Pinto from Bangaldesh were accompanied by Dominic, who had been on a walk with me previously. The other half of the group had a distinctly American feel, with Danny & Amina from Massachusetts (I think) and Abby & Kate from North Carolina. I took their photo as we passed through Covent Garden.
For the afternoon walk which takes us over to Bankside & Borough on the south side of the River Thames I had a few repeat walkers; Chris & John who came on the East London walk last year and Kaidi who had been a few years ago and brought with her, two friends, Bonnie & Rhonda. We were also joined by Ewan and his daughter and Steve & Anne. Now, I wanted to mention Ewan because three years ago, at the ripe old age of 41 he was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's. Parkinson's disease is a degenerative neurological condition, with symptoms such as tremors, slow movement and stiff and inflexible muscles. The name comes from James Parkinson, who amongst other things was an east London surgeon and apothecary, who first published in 1817 his observations on the condition which he called the 'shaking palsy'.
Most people with a cursory knowledge of this disease would probably associate it with the elderly, but as illustrated by Ewan, this is anything but the case. As a husband and father of a young family, Ewan's diagnosis turned his world upside down. It seems he refused to admit his diagnosis for a while, until it was something he could no longer ignore and once he had opened up to friends and family about his condition, realised the importance of a support network. Wanting to widen the net, Ewan set up a self-help website with the aim of providing support to other Parkinson's sufferers, their carers and families. Obviously Ewan's own personal experience forms a large part of the content, but he also includes recipes for healthy eating, exercises regimes and stuff like that. He's also been busy raising the Parkinsons.Me profile locally (he lives in Oxfordshire), taking part in challenges and events. My walk on Saturday was one such event and Ewan was joined by Anne, another person with Parkinson's who lives in London. I'm very pleased they were able to come along.
If you've recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, or know someone who has, please have a look at Ewan's Parkinsons.Me website, (recently awarded charity status) and I'm sure he'd be delighted if you got in touch with him, should you so wish.
Incidentally, I took the photo of the group (below) standing by the site of the original Globe Theatre, which opened on Bankside in 1599.
Sunday is the East London walk, which aside from me warbling on about random things that I find interesting, includes quite a lot of street art. Here are Sunday's group in Shoreditch, standing in front of a piece by an artist that I really like; Conor Harrington, an Irish painter, based in London. The group included a lovely bunch of guys from the north of England, a couple who lived in London (and worked in the area) and Efi & Pedro visiting London from Athens.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.