You have to wonder at your own sanity as you don a pair of ice skates and step out on to that frozen expanse of water. Is this really a good idea to wear unstable boots, with such a small contact area, on such a slippery surface?

However, it’s amazing how quickly you get the hang of it and even more amazing is the friendly spirit of the other skaters. I spent an evening skating at Queensway Ice Rink where people actually smiled at each other (and yes this is in London!), complete strangers offered struggling beginners tips and encouragement, and there was always a helping hand as you tried to skate from one support barrier to the next.

I remember skating many years ago when it seemed that the sport was to knock over the beginners, but that certainly wasn’t the case this time.

It was inspiring to watch some of the skaters; a pair of girls delicately and repeatedly practising ice dance moves; one guy spending the entire session perfecting his backward skating skills (or perhaps he still hadn’t mastered going forward yet); a father with his young son hand in hand as the youngster bravely toddled his way across the ice; a very tall, lanky, long-limbed chap who struggled his way along the edges, arms and legs waving in all directions like a demented windmill in a storm; and a couple of young lads clowning around, at first glance looking as though they’d never skated before but on closer inspection it was clear they were very much in control and their “Laurel and Hardy” bumbling was just a rouse.

I spent the evening wobbling around in a pair of blue, rather ugly, plastic skates, and soaking up the friendly atmosphere. I had expected to have a fun evening but I had never expected to find such bonhomie and spirit tucked away among the bowling lanes and fruit machines.

If you’re tempted to try it out, Monday is just £6.50 for the session including skate hire, and there are adult lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays for around £12.

See: Queens Ice and Bowl

About the Author: Chantal Cooke is a professional journalist, writer and author, co-founder of PASSION for the PLANET and a London Leader in Sustainability.

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