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?

Wedding recap and back to reality

I’m back! After an amazingly epic week away in Spain at the BTN Fitness Retreat I am home safe and sound. I got back Friday and then sadly was struck down with some awful illness for about three days. I couldn’t even make it into work on Monday and spent the entire day pretty much in bed sleeping. I feel a bit better now but still not hundred per cent. Hey ho!

I’ll do a full recap of the fitness retreat soon… it deserves a good coverage. It was a fantastic week and I learnt a lot about myself (both good and bad). Before going to Spain I had my friend’s wedding as well. I’m the genius that books to go on holiday the day after a wedding!

The wedding was so good. It was my close friend, Shell, who I know from university and her lovely partner Rob. The wedding was held in Dumbleton Hall near to Cheltenham. As I live in Southampton this is quite a drive so I stayed with my friends in Bristol, getting the train from work on the Friday. We went to a fantastic Lebanese restaurant, Lona Grillhouse, on the Friday night which rocked my world.Lona Bristol

We shared a platter of different meat, including lamb cutlets, king prawns, lamb kuftas, shish taouk and lots more Lebanese-style meat. It came with couscous, chips, nan bread and salad. Very tasty! There was also free Turkish delight at the end when you paid your bill.

The next day we got up fairly early to go and do some running. Kate and Jamie have recently just gotten into running (they came down to do the parkrun the other week with me). Though we’d have loved to have done a parkrun, sadly the nearest one was about 30 minutes away now Little Stoke is no longer there. And we just didn’t have the time with the wedding being at 1pm.


They took me to their local park instead which was basically a 1000 metre track. It had 100m markers and went in a loop. It was exactly 1km.





We did that five times (not the most exciting of runs but very cool to have the markers) and then we got ready for the wedding.

Shell's wedding 5

The wedding venue was literally perfect. The weather was good – sunny but not too hot. All in all it was a fantastic day. Shell and Rob are such a lovely couple as well and we were all so happy to see them get married.

It was also nice to have another get together with my university friends and just laugh and chat like we always do. And so nice to put a dress on and be all fancy Winking smile


There were lots of garden games as well to keep everyone entertained. And a hog roast sizzling away for the evening’s buffet… yessss!

IMG_2715Jamie and I were very pleased about this Winking smile

Shell’s dress was beautiful as well. She looked amazing.


And of course the food and cake was amazing. Probably the best food at a wedding I’ve ever had. And I have a very good friend, Charlotte, who traded half her pudding with me so I could try both Winking smileShell's wedding meal

I had soup to start, lamb (very tasty!) for main and then half an apple tart and half a chocolate mousse thing. The wedding had a Japanese theme as they both love Japan. The favours were these very pretty tea light holders as well as some homemade Welsh cakes (as Rob’s side of the family is Welsh). Lovely touches.

I’m not going to lie. I did drink a fair bit (for me). I wanted to let my hair down and relax. I rarely ever drink… unfortunately I didn’t really stick with a type of beverage and went from Pimms, to a Bud, to sparkling wine, to red wind to then gin and tonics. It tasted great at the time… The cake was delicious (obviously) with a carrot cake layer and chocolate layer.

Shell's Wedding  9

We all had a good time boogying the night away as well. It was a great evening. My lovely parents came to pick me up at midnight and it was time to go home. I felt rough on the way home. A combination of all those different drinks and too much food (read: cake) meant I might have had to have stopped (*cough* twice) on the way home to be sick. Much to my parents great amusement. As I said, this isn’t something I normally would do! Oh the shame…

I had my alarm set for 6am and arrived home at 2.30am (ouch). And for whatever bizarre reason I woke up at 4:59am and got up! I was so convinced my alarm was going to go off at 5am. So I got showered and ready and then at 5.45am wondered where my taxi was… The penny then dropped that I was a full hour early. Needless to say I reset my alarm and went back to bed (fully dressed).

I have to say I have never felt so ill in my life from alcohol. On the plane I was freezing cold. I asked for a blanket but they didn’t offer them (well, it was FlyBe…). I felt unbelievably rough and it only reconfirmed to me why I don’t drink excessively. And sadly my first night in Spain, after meeting everyone at the retreat, was spent missing dinner and going to bed early. You know I’m not well when I miss a meal time!! Serves me right I know.

Do you enjoy getting dressed up?

Do you drink? When was your last hangover?

What’s your tipple of choice?