London fun and Gladstone parkrun

Friday night I headed to the Big Smoke (aka London) once again. This time for pleasure not business and to see two good friends of mine from university.

The train and tube journey were easy peasy (i.e. I didn’t get lost – who even am I??). My friend, Laura, lives in the very cool St. John’s Wood location which was home to that famous zebra crossing on Abbey Road near the Abbey Road Studios (where the Beatles, amongst others, recorded a lot of their albums).

To be honest, I would never have known had my friend, Charlotte, not pointed this out to me. I obviously had to get a photo, though sadly I was walking the wrong way to recreate the iconic Beatles crossing! But with cars waiting, I did the best I could!

That evening we went to a fantastic Lebanese restaurant, called Yalla Yalla (self-described as a “hip West End restaurant”). It felt very hip. In fact, the entire time I was in London (and this is always the case) I feel so uncool. Londoners seem to exude this effortless coolness that I can only admire from a distance.

It was a great pick of a restaurant because Charlotte is veggie and they had such a range of vegetarian and meat-based dishes that everyone was happy. The two others went for three small plates each which looked delicious.

Halloumi, falafels, salad and chicken and feta in filo pastries. Whereas I went for pomegranate and honey roasted chicken wings followed by a mixed grill.

It was all divine. And I even got to help out Charlotte and Laura when their normal-sized stomachs became too full. I’m literally the dustbin of my group of friends.

From there we meandered around Soho, China Town and other very cool parts of London.

It was incredible busy (as you can imagine, it being Friday night) and every pub was spilling out people.

We were hunting for a bar where we could have a nice drink and chat. After walking a fair way I got the rumbles for something sweet… and lo! and behold a crêpe cafe appeared. I mean, what a find! It’s called Scoop and honestly I was in heaven.

My only predicament was whether to have just scoops of gelato in a funky cone, a brownie and gelato, a slice of red velvet or a crêpe (pancakes and waffles were also available but not really my cup of tea).

Not normally a crêpe person I quickly changed my mind having seen someone order one. I went for a white chocolate filled crêpe with a scoop of salted caramel gelato. I could have gone with multiple toppings and more than one scoop, but I decided to reign in the beast within and be sensible seen as how it was 10pm and I did have parkrun in the morning.

Dear God, what have I been missing all these years of believing crêpes weren’t my thing? (I’m not a Nutella fan so this is probably why as you can’t move for Nutella crêpes). The gooey, oozy, sweet and moist (yes, moist) deliciousness sent me to heaven and back. And I cleaned up that bad boy easily.

We then headed to a bar across the road for more normal adult endeavours (me now floating along on a sugar high). It was a lovely evening and made me realise a) how very uncool I am by London standards (who am I kidding, by any standards!) and b) how much more ‘happening’ London is than Southampton. OK I knew this already but it just blew my mind how easy it was and just how much stuff there was to see (and eat). But, still, I would never like to live near or in London…as good as that all is, I’m a hermit by nature and think I’d be overwhelmed (and broke) if it was long-term. Plus I love the friendliness and greenness of the more country-based suburbs.

parkrun the next morning was going to be at Hampstead Heath but after (luckily) checking Twitter on Friday I realised they’d cancelled for some reason. The next best location was Gladstone parkrun which was really easy to get to via the tube.

From the tube station (Dollis Hill) it’s literally about 0.5 miles down one road (Anna-proof!) to get to the park. The park is actually quite big though (and hilly) so I did have to hike around for a fair while to find the start (mainly because I hadn’t actually researched further than “it’s in Gladstone Park”).

Having arrived fairly early (8.20am) and the fact that it was cold and overcast meant me walking around a park for a fair while was actually quite good!

The views were lovely and the park was very peaceful. There was a small pond with ducks and lots of interesting carvings of animals in tree logs about the place. It really was a very good location for a parkrun – besides the hills

When I got to the start area I happily chatted away to the few runners there. It amazes me how in this sort of situation I can easily walk up to people I don’t know and just start talking and be at ease. But in any other scenario? That would terrify me and I’d stand to one side awkwardly. I met some lovely people. I also heard from some people who usually do the Hampstead Heath parkrun that Hampstead Heath is very hilly so I was quite glad not to have gone (that’s where Parliament Hill is sooo…bullet dodged!)

The course was a two lapped course (which, by the way, is now my favourite type of course. Not quite as repetitive as a three lap course and seems to go a lot quicker!). There were some nasty short inclines and some long gradual inclines but also some declines. It was actually a very enjoyable course as it was so varied.

How’s that for a negative split?? I got a new lease of life half-way through and felt far more at ease. The temperature was perfect (very chilly to start!) and I really got into it by the end. I really should do more of a warm-up…starting straight from nothing is not a great idea *sighs*. One day.

I asked the event director to take a photo of me and he was more than happy to. He then turned it to selfie mode and said “but of course you also need one with the event director in it!”

He was so friendly and funny – really made me feel welcome and he demanded I come back at some point: “you don’t get a PB unless you come back!”.

I got back to Laura’s flat, showered and we headed off for brunch (Charlotte had gone home last night). It actually worked out really well me going to parkrun as Laura likes a lie-in whereas I’m not great with sleeping in too late! She took me to the Maida Vale area which was also very cool (and where they did all the BBC music stuff!). We went to The Elgin which was the epitome of hipster.

Anywhere that uses a teapot to hold cutlery is far too cool I had Bavette steak and eggs for my brunch and it was DELICIOUS.

And then it was time for home! I had a fantastic time in London (guided carefully around by friends to make sure I didn’t wander off and get lost). And ticked off number 19 on my parkrun tourism list!

How many laps do you prefer for parkrun?

What would you choose: Crêpes, waffles, pancakes, cake or just gelato?

Do you like visiting London much?

18 Replies to “London fun and Gladstone parkrun”

  1. 19 parkruns as a tourist is pretty epic. Now I can drive I’d like to do some volunteering tourism.

    The gelato place looks amazing. We went to JoJos last week in Fareham. It was so good and much quieter than Sprinkles
    Rebecca recently posted…I Am Team GBMy Profile

  2. 19 parkruns- impressive stuff- so close to that elusive 20! (or do you need one more because of the US one?). Anyway, way ahead of me! 🙂
    I like going to London for a bit- I like living close by so I can get the train in for the afternoon or evening, but I would not want to live there, or commute in- I can get around the tube fine if I look slowly at a map (although because the stations have more than one exit I just reply on my phone to guide me once I am street level!). I went in on Saturday for the afternoon and evening, and there are so many landmarks and things to see.
    I like a one lap parkrun course! There don’t seem to be many though as they would need a bigger park. It’s just more interesting, and the field thins out a bit, as I don’t really like being lapped two or three times by the fastest runners. I know I am not the fastest, but sometimes it’s bad for morale! So the less laps the better. Also then I don’t need to count!
    I love crepes- so tasty. The best one I ever had was in Cologne, a marzipan and nutella one, and they had a slice of marzipan inside, so it melted a bit as it cooked. Amazing.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…A running club celebration!My Profile

    1. I’ve done 20 but 19 UK ones (I was sad when I found out my US one didn’t count!) I was going to do my 20th this weekend but I’ve gotta get to the O2 in London for 12ish so it’s just not possible. But the week after I will!
      Yeah I’m trying to think if I’ve done a one lapped course – one that doesn’t do any out and back bits and is all new course… hmmm. I really hate more than 3 laps as you’re right, being overtaken can be a downer and counting is a nightmare. That other one in London was a killer with its 5 laps!
      OK I need to find a marzipan crêpe ASAP. I think that would far surpass the white chocolate. Not with Nutella though…maybe just ice cream 😉
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…London fun and Gladstone parkrunMy Profile

  3. Hate to break it to you but we aren’t really that cool…!! Also most people in London rarely venture outside their own little bubble therefore are only cool in one place (I am, for example, useless if anyone wants to know where to eat or drink in central London, but give me SW4 or SW11 and I have MILLIONS of options) however that crepe is making me want to do so. Not done Hampstead Heath but I have done XC at Parliament Hill and can testify, yes, there are hills, and yes there is mud. Lots of both = fun running.
    Katie @ TheseGirlsDo recently posted…Altitude training in the PyreneesMy Profile

      1. Gladstone Park is much more friendly and fun though. The Hampstead Heath mob (particularly the non parkrunners walking their dogs) can get a bit nasty when they see people using their park!

  4. I need to go back to Yalla Yalla – sometimes there’s just too much choice in London and I’m guilty of staying within my own little “London village” and not venturing out of my own postcode sometimes! I’m definitely a cake person as despite being sweet-toothed I don’t like ice cream! x
    LilyLipstick recently posted…Travel: Postcard From StockholmMy Profile

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