Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Stroll On….

P1020096 c res One of the things that happens sur le continent but mostly not in the UK is the afternoon stroll, the paseo, the passeggiata. In Spain, a paseo is a slow, idle, or leisurely walk or stroll, or the place where the strolling happens - a public place or path designed for walking, which can also be a promenade or a tree-lined thoroughfare. It’s derived from the Spanish pasear, to walk. In Italy, it’s la passeggiata, a gentle stroll through the main streets of the old town, usually in the pedestrian zones in the centro storico, the historic centre. The passeggiata or "little walk" happens between 5 and 7pm. But it doesn’t have to be on a sunny day - I’ve seen it in February in a Milan that was more cold and more foggy than London. So it’s not about the weather. France has its flaneurs, from the verb meaning "stroll." Being France, it has become associated with a philosophy, thanks to Baudelaire, who considered a flâneur to be "a person who walks the city in order to experience it". In England, we just don’t seem to have an equivalent. Except, maybe at the seaside. Not so much Nordic power walking, as a stroll along the prom, even a “Constitutional.” It’s not quite a daily ritual, more a phenomenon of High Days and Holidays, of which we have just had a few. On Easter Monday, the sun shone, the waves rolled in. And le tout Hove strolled, walked, and flaneured its way along the prom. Not quite le continent, but not far off…..

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