Last week we signed a six-month lease for a house on the North Shore. It’s in a nice suburb: everything is handy, there are decent shops, the beaches are lovely, and Tristan’s commute is a cruisy 10 – 15 minute drive (I drop him off and pick him up each day, so I can have the car).

Yesterday Tui and I went to the beach first thing in the morning. It’s gorgeous – golden sand, pretty shells, lovely beachfront houses that I will never be able to afford. It was typically Auckland weather (sunshine and showers – it’s rained at least once every day that I’ve been here, so far) and we wandered along, saying hello to other dogs and their owners. Tui hadn’t seen the sea before, but she decided that it was just a super-sized pond and happily plunged in, chasing sticks.

She was a happy, happy dog.

There were a few people having a morning jog and they made me miss exercise (and feel like a flabby, blobby person). My running gear is still on its way to NZ, but I decided that the time was right to try running barefoot – I’d been told that advocates of ‘natural running’ swear by it and say that it strengthens the feet and legs and minimises the risk of injuries. Given that I had to give up my marathon training last year, after damaging tendons in both feet, this sounded worth a go. And where better to try barefoot running than a sandy golden beach, with a cute little dog scampering alongside me? For minimal financial investment (a decent sports bra and a pair of shorts and a top – both bought on sale yesterday) I could start exercising again.

Of course, I’m an idiot and didn’t think about tides. When we got to the beach this morning the tide was in and there wasn’t much beach available (and what was there was covered in shells, which didn’t make for a pleasant barefoot running surface). However, the tide started to go out while we were there and I did manage a few minutes of running. And it was great! Easy, comfortable… it really did feel much easier than ‘normal’ running. It helps that the sun was out again and that the beach is beautiful; it’s a far nicer training environment than a typical English suburban street. It felt so good to be doing something physical again. And my feet feel absolutely fine.

And as I strode along, pausing every now and then to fling Tui’s stick into the sea and watch her retrieve it, it occured to me that running barefoot could be a good metaphor for my life at present: I wanted to do it, I got it organised, I got out there and did it. No procrastinating, no over-thinking. I didn’t really know much about exercising in this way, but it seemed to be a good idea and, so far, it has been. This is precisely how I should make all of my decisions. Life really isn’t supposed to be complicated.

(One sketchy moment at the beach this morning: Tui spotted a seagull floating a few metres off-shore and swam out to try to catch it. It waited until she was almost there and then flew off and resettled a few more metres out to sea. I had visions of this continuing and of Tui ending up on the other side of the harbour, but thankfully the gull flew away and Tui returned to the shore.)

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