Simon, pictured, introduces me to a kayak. We meet at the Chiswick pier where I am kitted with a kayak, a double-sided paddle and a life-vest plus a hearty "good luck" and, just like that, I am floating. The ducks and geese pay me no mind; a coot floats by and the moorhens , with a red flash, about everywhere. I also see a crested grebe and a heron (who eats a fish which seems halfway caught in its long skinny neck). It is hot and the banks lush with greenery. The water brown and opaque. Joggers whizz by while the serious rowers stroke in unison: puff, puff, puff! I stay away from them.
I love the eccentricity of it all of course. A relaxing way to see London. When landed, Simon keeps his kayak in front of his house on the Chiswick Mall (unlocked) and feet from the water so he may go for a float whenever he should wish. It suits him : born in Florence, educated at Oxford and now a venture capitalist - I would expect him to take exercise in no other fashion.
Me: "Which cereal are you having?"
Madeleine: "Coco Sugar Pops."
Me: "How about the Fruit Loops?"
Madeleine: "They only had Honey Loops, which are like Cheerios with honey."
Madeleine: "Eitan always eats the ones he doesn't like first and saves the best ones for last."
Me: "It's a good strategy."
Madeleine: "Yeah, I guess. If you are Eitan."