Back out

Queen Mary's Garden in Regents Park. The rose garden is incredible.

Queen Mary’s Garden in Regents Park. The rose garden is incredible.

It is a beautiful August day here in London and instead of being out enjoying the day, I write type this blog propped upright with pillows on the couch with a hot water bottle wedged up against the left of my back. Somewhere in my frenzy of strength training right before bed on Sunday, I pulled some muscles in the lower left of my back. I didn’t notice anything at the time of course. Nothing stops leg lifts and squats. Monday morning I felt a niggle, but I sucked it up thinking it was a small little injury. I even cycled home hard and relaxed Monday night with a few brews to take the sting out.

I was wrong. I woke up Tuesday in a lot of pain.

I ended up being off work two days this week, only appearing at work on the days I had meetings I didn’t want to miss. Oh and I had the Great British Beer Festival. I couldn’t miss that either as it was a chance to numb my back with the sweet armpit taste of English cask ale. So I’m laid up all weekend, hoping by Monday that my back feels good enough to go out and look at trees. I can’t stand another day in the office. I’ll go crazy.

Late night on the road

My brain the last few weeks though has been seeking out escape, despite things here being pretty damn good overall. Seeking escape has lead to Colleen going to Colleenland. It’s a dark, mysterious and distant land, which no one wants to go to. Especially me. I’ve struggled to interact with the world around me at some points with no real reason and no real cure. It’s not the first time it’s happens so I know it normally goes on for a few days or a week and then dissipates. But I think I’m through that rough patch now. I spent most of the time stuck in my books, avoiding people so I wasn’t mean or saying anything stupid. It’s the best path for me.

I want to think my escape is because I don’t have a airplane/train/car reservation at the moment. No trips booked after being pretty booked up for about 8 months straight is a difficult high to come down from. Although it’s been lovely to catch my breath and not have to do anything on the weekend, I do believe I am a nomad at heart. Staying put for a long time is hard and I’ve kind of just told myself I’ll stay here in London for a minimum of 2 more years. Somewhere in my head, I don’t want to have such plans of putting down more roots. But it really is the best thing at the moment for myself, my job and my life. At least it seems that way.

So. This weekend I am actively engaging in escapism the only way I can with a hurt back and no money: reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and watching Ewan McGregor’s show Long Way Round. I’m not sure if it’s helping or fueling the fire, but I’m going to keep the course. I see another travel book being read next, which will blend in nicely with both that book and that show. When those are done my new class will probably be starting and I will once again be too busy to have time to day dream about getting away.

I leave you with some nice, random photos from the last couple weeks and I hope you’re all having a good time wherever you are.

More Regents Park

More Regents Park

We moved offices last Friday. This is the last time I will be able to see this view of London Town. A bit sad.

We moved offices last Friday. This is the last time I will be able to see this view of London Town. A bit sad.

Me and John late night at St. Pancras

Me and John late night at St. Pancras

Young Elms of Hampstead

Young Elms of Hampstead

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Life is happening

Sunny, summer days are here in London town

Sunny, summer days are here in London town

Well, it certainly has been one of the longest stretches of time in between posts on here in a while. That’s no good. But I want to say it’s mostly for positive reasons. Yes, mostly, I haven’t been home. Or I’ve been moving to a new home. Or I’ve been traveling (almost too much) or had a fully booked in weekend doing sport, going to events, sitting at the pub and generally burning my body cause I forgot sun block again. I assure you I have been writing a lot with a pen and paper even though this space has gone quiet. It has really helped me work through some things and at the least progress my thoughts in a positive direction. So I hope to continue that this summer. But here I am on a Friday night because “I’m focusing on my career right now.” Me and Pic got the house to ourselves and Glastonbury is on BBC. I’ve actually got nothing better to do than write a blog, cook dinner and boogie and I couldn’t be more pleased.

See. I've been writing.

See. I’ve been writing.

I was in Paris for a few days for Roland Garros. I felt so lucky to be taking another tennis grand slam off my list of things to do in life. Quite a lot of people don’t even get a chance to do one thing on their bucket list and I keep getting able to do all I set out to achieve. Not sure why, but I’ll take it. DSC07498So any ways, before the Open started I was really really really hoping that I would just get a chance to see Rafa play. It was a 50/50 chance without the weather being shit.  But man, I lucked out on weather and would you believe, I also got to see Rafael Nadal play at the French. It was so awesome. He was so so good and totally crushed his opponent. It was over in just an hour and a half. That was legendary, but the evening match with Gael Monfils was more memorable. Monfils, the hometown guy, really had the crowd going. I loved the atmosphere and I nearly started yelling “ALLEZ GAEL” myself. I like Monfils a lot anyways and he was playing brilliantly. I didn’t do too much else in Paris besides be annoyed by the hostel being completely filled with Americans fresh off the boat. They were nice, but they also did my head in. They were mostly 20-23 year olds on their first trip to Europe. It’s been a long while since I stayed in a hostel in a European capital that I kind of forgot that whole scene. The lessons learned on that was 1. If I go back to Paris, stay at a B&B and avoid people. 2. Don’t go back to Paris: go to small cities in Europe from now on. These are important for the future sanity of myself.

I think I did some other stuff between then but I’ve just returned from Scotland on Monday morning. It was 10 days of much needed fun and mostly doing nothing at all. Fyne Fest was awesome as per usual with great beers and great food and music.

Fyne Fest

Fyne Fest

The weather and the midges held out for the weekend. Luckily for me they held out for the next week as well while I camped. I didn’t need midge spray but once for about 3 minutes. I am beginning to think these midges don’t actually exist. And imagine if British people had to cope with mosquitoes. Like those full on mosquitoes you get when you’re up in the hills or forest land. The British would wither and die. The sooner they realize their bugs, birds, animals are all tiny compared to other countries the quicker they can stop their complaining. Actually they’d probably complain about how small stuff was and they’d want things to be regular size like the rest of the world.

I feel like I've been sleeping mostly in a sleeping bag the last two months, which is partially true.

I feel like I’ve been sleeping mostly in a sleeping bag the last two months, which is partially true.

My time in Inveraray and Islay was awesome. The best bit were campfires on the beach with a bottle of whisky. Next year I am hoping I can bring some friends along to the beach to share in the experience. I was happy to do it alone this year just to scope it and not have to commit to doing anything else, but I’d like to do a bit more next Scottish holiday. Any one up for it?

River in the Highlands.

River in the Highlands.

Beach life.

Beach life.

So I’ve gotten back from Scotland feeling pretty refreshed, but now a week of really stressful work has happened and I’m right back to where I was pre-holiday frazzled and banging my head against the desk. Ah such is life. I have no other travel plans the rest of the summer and I’m happy about that. It will be nice to stick around London for a change and enjoy times with my friends until school starts back up in August. Then once again I’ll be hiding in my room doing homework for 4 months. Can’t wait.

It’s getting late now. Nearly 10 (!!) and I am about to fall asleep typing this up. Piccadilly is circling, wanting me to get to bed too.I have not been sleeping well for weeks and I am looking forward to not having an alarm tomorrow morning. I’m pretty sure this tiredness stems from my complete lack of exercise for the last month since the Rat Race 20 mile assault course we did. Oh and there’s been the drinking. By the way, the race was good. We finished in mostly one piece. All this laziness changes tomorrow morning cause I’m going for a long run after breakfast. Time to get the creaky cogs of this body spinning again.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. Stay out of trouble and take care. Cheers.

Heaven: water, sun, sand, fire, writing implementation, paper, and some alcohol.

Heaven: water, sun, sand, fire, writing implementation, paper, and some alcohol.

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Sunday Funday

I woke up this morning at 6:30 to the sound of something tap tap tapping in the kitchen. I thought it may be a mouse partially trapped in the mouse trap banging around. I was not going to get up to have a look cause then I’d be acknowledging it and would be forced to do something about it. But it turns out it was just my housemate making some food. At 6:30 in the morning. On a Sunday. She apologized for possibly waking me and then went back to her room and left the food out. A question: WHY THE HELL ARE YOU MAKING FOOD AT 6:30 ON A SUNDAY MORNING FOR NO REASON!? It’s now 9:30 and still the food hasn’t been eaten. Cheers.

I figured I was up and would get started on my homework. I looked at my syllabus to confirm I had an assignment due today and actually I have nothing due today. Win win win! This has allowed for me to do a quick update to all of you people on what’s been going on.

I guess a lot is happening and I’m overwhelmed.

Since I last wrote I’ve been to Porto, Brighton and Birmingham. They were all really good times in totally different ways. Porto was a lovely city break. I can’t say enough of how nice the city was. The architecture, the drink, the people. And set on the banks of a very beautiful river. I spoke to a lot of people about the trip and almost all of them had never been to Portugal. But it’s on everyone’s list. If you do get a chance, go! Just book it and go. It’s cheap once you get there. Very cheap.


A few days later I went down to Brighton for a concert with Bobbles. It turned into an unexpected night of epic dance. We had pretty much the whole balcony of the venue to dance. Everyone on the balcony was so sucked into the performance of Dan Croll that no matter how ridiculous our dances got, no one turned around to see. And fueled by a few beers and ciders, some of the moves were ones never seen before and likely never to be seen again. My problem now is every time I hear a Dan Croll song, I’m possessed to dance like a complete fool. I like it.


I was up in Brum for a conference for a couple days this week. It was really good and gave me a lot to think about. Hopefully one day I can actually put to use some of the things I learned. It was quite focused on urban design and a bit about trees. Right up my alley. I’ve always been a sucker for urban design and probably always will.

Besides all that, I’m trying to train for the 20 mile assault course (not going well), looking for a new place to move (going ok-ish) and finish my class (also going ok-ish). Oh and go to Ireland in 2 weeks. Busy busy.

Today I will be working ahead on course work today. There are visitors (friend Tim and gf Emily) afoot from the USA so I want to be prepared for any outings we may need to go on. It will be nice to see them. It’s a great opportunity to make Eric jealous he’s not out drinking with us.

Any ways, I will get going. Lots of videos to watch for class. And hopefully I will get out for a run today.  Hope all is well with you kids. Keep in touch. I leave you with a shot of Conker outside le pub.


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Life in the present

Basically life is so flipping busy, I can’t keep up with documenting it. That’s a good thing. I like being busy. But I also like documenting life. So not as good. What this is good for is living in the moment. There’s not much down time to think about the future. For me, that’s probably for the best as I tend to over analyze that which has yet to take place.

So this morning I set out 5 writing tasks to complete by the end of the day. This is #4 and I don’t see the 5th getting done. It’s just too much. I’ve had enough today. I don’t know what I’m doing to myself except seeing how much pain I can put myself through. Like everything feels like it has to be pushing the limit right now. Why!? Stop it, Colleen! Am I that bored? Surely not. Surely you can find something wasteful to do with your time.

This limit pushing is going every which way (Also I want to already apologize for this crap of a post. Unfortunately it’s what’s needed): exercise, learning, work, home and fun. The stress of it all is showing itself lots of different ways. Like when I was randomly overly sensitive to noise for a 24 hour period. What is that about?  And you know you may have pushed the fun limit too far when you wake up the next day, look at the photos from your vomit coated camera and find this:



I looked at that and thought, why did I take a photo of a dead person in a skip? And then realized I didn’t take the photo. And that’s not a dead person: that’s me. Class. Luckily I was not alone and got home (mostly) unscathed. But I can’t take it easy with anything right now. That’s why when I thought about having a small whisky tonight I realized I don’t know how to pour a small whisky. A small is a 1/3 of a pint. So it would be in my best interest for me to pass on that and actually show up for work tomorrow. I know my boss would be appreciative.

Oh but also I am being super awesome with fitness:



I did my first pull ups ever this week. Two of them. See, I’m not completely ruining myself with alcohol. Somehow I’m stronger than ever despite everything. Running is held up do to a twinge of pain in my left foot. Hopefully by next weekend I’ll be back to being a running fool. This is where I do some working out during the work week. I’m too poor for a gym membership and really, I don’t need anything else besides what’s available at this outdoor gym.

In school news, I’m not failing my class. That’s alright then. Hopefully that continues until May.

Spring is on. Like no doubt. Magnolias are out. They’re out a full month earlier than last year. Not good really. I’d show you a photo of them, but all I have is a photo of some crocus and daffs from earlier this week in Kilburn.



Some of the cherries have popped, but only the early blooming ones. With a crazy wet winter and a very early spring, it’ll be a tough year for the plants I reckon. A bad year for pests in the UK. A good year for pests (meaning no pests) in the US! All these crazy shifts in weather are pretty unnerving to me. I feel like I can physically feel climate change. Any one else feel that?

So I will be off traveling to a few places in the next few months. I’m very much looking forward to my time away from London (I love you London, don’t give me that look) to see new places. I promise to make posts about those places more interesting than this one.

Ok, I am off to bed. I woke up at 5:45 this morning I really need to sort my  life out and become a lazy bum again. TTYL friends!

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Kicking my ass

It’s been a quick month since I last posted! It’s been pretty must full of homework and working out in my free time. Little time for too much else faffing. Today though I’m taking off to lie around, watch Olympics, catch up and maybe even see my friends for a drink in the evening. Imagine! There is no complaining though. It’s been good for me to refocus on good, productive things for myself.

And hot damn, I am feeling good physically. Training for the Rat Race Weekend is really ramping up and I hope to survive uninjured until May 11th (race is on May 10). We’ve signed ourselves up for the 20 mile course, so it’s going to be a long day of exercise when it comes to it. Tomorrow I’m doing a 13 mile run. The weather is supposed to be half decent and it’ll be a good break from my homework. I thought I was pretty fit before, but nearly everyday some part of my body is sore from a work out. It’s really good to be pushing myself and has lead to some good work place competition (my team is my co-workers) and judging. Like judging people when I see my co-workers/teammates eating to many hot cross buns. Although really I have no room to talk with my Percy pig addiction. Any ways, I’ve been busting out the squats, crunches and push ups like cray. I was never really into squats, but damn do they kick your ass and tighten up everything. I will try to keep them up for the rest of my life if I can.

My plan after the Rat Race is to sign myself up for a marathon in the Fall. I’m thinking about doing one in Oregon, but I shall see how the finances play out and if I can afford a trip over there later in the year.

School is cool. And as expected it has me thinking about what is next. Definitely more tree stuff. Yes, there is no doubt about that. But where to do tree stuff? I think I want to move back to Oregon sometime soonish. Whatever soonish is. It could be in 6 months or it could be in 2 years. I’ll keep you in the loop.

Besides all that, I’ve just been watching it rain. Don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s been pretty wet here. It’s not the rain bothering me. It’s the wind. I have had enough. In the right of the photo below you can see our back fence is damaged. After another round of storms last night, the fence is in much worse condition.

Le sigh. More rain.

Le sigh. More rain.

Any ways, that’s the update from London. I am still going to do that W8 5PN update. Probably next weekend when the weather will hopefully start to get more tolerable.

Hope you’re all well. Keep in touch, y’all.

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10 years later

10 years ago tonight, I got on an airplane headed to London for a semester abroad. I didn’t realize back then how much those 4 months would come to shape my next 10 years, but I’m glad it did. Tonight I got to walk along the Thames and take it all in. Tomorrow I’m going on a special expedition to commemorate the anniversary. You W8 5PNers out there are certain to like it!

The city

The city

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2013: A year in Review

Back in January 2013, I wrongfully assumed that my London adventure would be coming to a close in January 2014. Instead, everything has pretty much remained the same from then. Well, there were a lot of ups and downs between now and then but I’m still living at the same place, with the same job and with still the same cat keeping me entertained in the evenings.

lazy cat

lazy cat

I thought I’d done one of these re-caps the last few years, but I can’t seem to find one from last year. My memory is certainly suffering these days. The numerous pints of beer must be catching up with me. Any ways, let’s get this going as I’d like to go bed sometime tonight.

Best Trip: Scotland It was only 5 days at Fyne Fest, Inveraray and the Isle of Mull, but it is the trip I’m still talking and thinking about 7 months on. I hadn’t taken a holiday in the 9 months before then and I was feeling  like shit. But the week I went to Scotland was the week I finally went permanent at my job. The stress and strain of life drained out of me that weekend. The trip ushered in an excellent 2nd half of the year and now flows into 2014. I won’t go on too long as you’ve heard enough. The weather was pretty good. Even warm. And best of all: no midges. Looking forward to the 2014 edition of Scotland.

getting blown off the top of  Dun na Cuaiche above Inveraray

getting blown off the top of Dun na Cuaiche above Inveraray

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Honorable mention best trip: America I can’t choose between my two trips to America. They were both good in different ways. I only really went to Scotland and America for an extended time this past year, so these win by default. It was good for my soul to spend some quality time with my family and some of my bestest friends in the world. Made me feel grounded again.

a pile of family

a pile of family

Best new food: Brussels Sprouts There’s a bumper crop of sprouts in the UK this year. Maybe that’s why I first noticed them. A few months ago I bought my first bag of them to try out. I loved them. Now I buy them nearly every week. I never imagined being a brussels sprouts person, but here I am, a devotee. And they are only a £1 a bag at the co-op. Bargain!

Honorable mention best new food: Grünkohl For those of you who don’t speak German, that’s kale. I got Grünkohl at one of the Christmas markets. It had to be over a pound of cooked down kale with various seasonings  in a wooden bowl and a few brats and potatoes thrown in the mix. I think it costs €6, but a €6 I’d happily spend again. In fact I’ll be sure to get it again next year when I go back to Köln for the Christmas markets again. (Yes, I’m holidaying in the same places again this year. They are excellent, how could I not?) But I’ve thrown kale into a few of my dishes for the first time this year and it’s nice.

Best song: Chris Malinchak – So Good to Me A tough race in 2013. I spent a lot of hours listening to BBC Radio 1 while working, so I was exposed to more new music than I had been over the last few years. So many new bands and singers are now on my iTunes. I love it. But this song, which I heard first in February last year, got me through some cold working days. It was such a summer tune and made me happy. It still does. 

Honorable mention best song: Laura Mvula – She The first time in a long time I’ve heard a voice and instantly fell in love. Laura Mvula’s Sing to the Moon album is ASTOUNDING. I’ve mentioned it here before. Have a listen.

Best bike ride: To and from work. 193 times 4091.6 miles of commuting by bike in 2013. Yes, I counted. And I’m counting again this year. None of those trips were in vain. Not once the whole year did I say in the morning “I don’t feel like cycling today. I’ll take the train to work.” It wasn’t always pleasant. Sometimes I faced 50mph wind and cold rain in my face. Sometimes people would do idiot things on the road and sendBut I would rather be out in the elements or deal with asshole motorists/cyclists/pedestrians than face the battle of the train any day. All that cycling got me in very good physical condition too. I lost 3″ around my *waist (thanks sIRK). Dropped a couple pant sizes. And not one incident to report. Safe cycling all year. Long may it continue into the future. And heck, it’s only when I cycle to work that I get to see stuff like this:

Fog monster eating the Houses of Parliament

Fog monster eating the Houses of Parliament

Honorable mention best bike ride: Spin up in a brewery Brighton to Dark Star Brewery. My co-worker Rob and I did a ride from Brighton to the Dark Star Brewery last May. 20 miles over the South Downs. Luckily for me and my 45 lb Pashley, only about 5 of it was uphill. The rest was on flat ground or racing down hill. It was a beautiful weather day as well. I drank good beer all day and ate some amazing bbq’d food as well. It was a win of a day. And if my Roland Garros watching doesn’t interfere, I’ll be doing it again this year. Below is a few seconds of the uphill bit of the journey. I will figure out a better way to record on my bike this year!

Best pub: the random one I went into on Buttermarkt in Köln I had a few mulled wines by this point. I wasn’t much paying attention to the name of the pub we went to. But I had a few Kölsch in there and they were good. It was great as it was a real German experience. I think I was the only non-German in the place. I immediately took to drinking Kölsch and  I like how it is served. The small glasses keep the beer fresh and cold. And it’s easy to lose track of how many one has had. I highly recommend going to Köln and losing track of your beers in the evening.

Honorable mention best pub: Queen’s Head in King’s Cross. The Queen’s Head is our failsafe pub for a good night of drinking after work. It’s always packed, but the beer is very dependable, if sometimes way over priced. It’s a great traditional type of pub if you’re looking for a place to go in Central London. Filled with locals and workers in the area. I had drinks there a few times in 2013. Always happy to settle down there for a session. It’ll be one of those places I miss if/when I go back stateside for sure.

Best meal: Kedgeree and a pint of Oldham Citra at Fyne Fest. Please let this be around at Fyne Fest 2014.

I could eat and drink this every day.

I could eat and drink this every day.

Honorable mention best meal: Lobster roll and a pint of Newport Storm IPA Hell yes! It’s good eating local, especially in New England with all their fine seafood.

Lobstery. And I don't really care for lobster that much.

Lobstery. And I don’t really care for lobster that much.

Best tree happening: removing the path from around this Holm Oak I don’t often get to make a situation better for a tree. But for this old, bad ass Holm Oak, I got to make things slightly easier. It probably won’t seem like a big deal to most of you, but I got the path removed from under one half of this tree in the hope of prolonging its life. Not that it’s even close to falling over, but I hope the remedial efforts we’ve done will make it stand for an extra generation of people visiting this park. I’m glad I suggested it and it became a reality. There is hope for trees in London after all!

The before

The before

The after.

The after.

Alright everyone. I think I’ll stop boring you and end this post. Best thing as I am planning another post tomorrow. 2013: pretty good. 2014: gonna be a whole lot of awesome. And there better be many more visitors this year people! Get over to London already. Looking forward to recapping 2014 in January 2015, likely sitting in the same place but ok with it. Happy 2014 everyone.

Categories: London, News, Uncategorized | Tags: | 2 Comments


After a glutinous 2 1/2 weeks….no no….come to think of it a glutinous 3 months, I’m ready to purge and be a health and exercise nut for at least the next month.

God, just look at me. It’s gross. NSFW (almost)


And holding a beer no less. The traveling, eating and drinking what I like feels like it’s catching up with me (despite what you all may say). I feel gross. Get ready for Fatty McFatterson to become Hottie McHotterson. Running, eating reasonably well and no alcohol coupled with my normal 2 hours a week day cycle regimen should get me closer to fighting weight by the middle of February. Then only 3 more months of ultra training until the rat race happens. Just running a couple days over into the new year is ok before starting resolutions, right?

If not, screw you. That’s the way it has to be. I’m on vacation still!


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2014: Pushing forward

Happy New Year to you all. I hope the celebrations of the past 8 days has not left you in a deteriorated state today. Me, I woke up feeling hot. Super hot. At 12:30AM as my childhood bedroom was literally like a furnace. It makes it nearly impossible for me to sleep. Eventually I got a few hours of shut eye. I have to say, I’m much happier to have woken up in a much different situation than I did last year. Plus I wasn’t hung over. All my new years plans went to shit (not happy about it) and I ended up falling asleep in my bed watching Skyfall at about 10PM. I suppose that is life at 31.

So I’ve just re-read my new year’s resolutions for 2013 to see if I did any of them. I set 3. Amount accomplished: 0. Pretty good going. I did try on all of them. The final tallies on the side of the page aren’t quite right. I ran 17 times. I played tennis 24 times. And I read 3 Russian novels, including Crime and Punishment! So although I didn’t complete resolutions, I gave it a good try (except maybe the running bit).

My main intent in 2013 of overcoming some social anxiety did happen actually. I got some help and things are a wee bit better in life after a pretty rough April, May and June. Now that I’ve got some permanency with work and life I can settle in a bit and breathe. Hopefully things will continue to be bright in 2014.

As for new year’s resolutions for 2014. I’ve been toying with a few and they are below.

1. One evening  weekday every week with no electronics. (kitchen electronics and lights excluded) No phone, no computer, no music. Most likely I’ll cook or go to the pub. It is entirely possible  though some of those nights I could read or write or exercise. Imagine! What will happen to the world when I unplug? Will it continue?????

2. Read 30 books. I’ve officially declared this on goodreads, so it must be true. It will either be easier as I’ll be back in school or just about impossible to squeeze in extra reading. Time will tell!

3. Run 50 times. I’m giving this one another go. As I’m doing this stupid race in May, I’ll have to seriously get to running when I get back to England. I’d run now, but I’m having a bit of pain in my foot which I don’t like. So I’ll rest it for a few more days. It is starting to feel better (likely due to wearing Karlie’s boot  for 3 hours).

4. Write more! Write more! Write more! I always feel better after it. Pen and paper are the greatest inventions ever. Need to get back into the groove.

Overall I want a simpler existence. Living in London, life is fast and technologically obsessed. Does it make it better? Not really. So I will concentrate on having better, richer experiences. Enjoying life again with friends and family alike when I can. And I don’t want to spin my wheels working on relationships that aren’t ever going to grow. Life is too short and I want to make sure I’m living it. I don’t want to be dwelling on the negative or things I have no control over.

So I think that’s it. I need to do a best of 2013 post still. I have a nice list, but no time at present to do it. I have three more days here in the US and then I’m back in London. And of course I’ve left most things until the last minute to do before I leave.

It’s time to get ready for this new year’s party with the step family. And by get ready, I mean have a beer. It’s basically noon any ways. Take care all and happy 2014!

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A walk in the city

I walked to work on Monday. I know, I’m as shocked as you that I actually did it.

Here’s my route:

Google says 3 hours and 9 minutes to complete. I say 2 hours and 40 minutes.

I was planning to set off at 6, but as it was I woke up at 4:15. Very very awake. So I took at as I sign that I should get out of bed. And I did. As usual I listened to a bit of the old iTunes while getting ready. It’s always on random but it was as if iTunes knew what I was about to do. First song up: Jesus Walks by Kanye West. I thought that was cool. 2nd song was Rambling through the Avenues of Time by Flight of the Conchords. I was ready to go. It was 5:40.

And dang, I haven’t been out that early and in the dark for a while. It was really quiet. Yes, very quiet the whole 4 minutes until I hit the high street.

Early, still dark.

Early, still dark.

The roads were fairly quiet. My high road is one of the main roads, if not THE main road to London from the south (sussex and Brighton), so to see it quiet is not normal. North I headed and hit the next train station Streatham at 6:01. This is a walk I do pretty regularly as my local is very close to the station. Did I say walk? More of a crawl from here to my house. The next station Streatham Hill I hit at 6:17. At this point I way trying to decide whether Streatham is worse in the dark as it’s all deserted or if it’s worse in the day when you can see how crap it is. I just mean the high street. It needs some help. Probably some more nice big trees would help it stop looking so unfriendly.



Oh and at 6:05 I started sweating. I thought it was going to be much colder out, so I was well bundled. It was at this point I had to undo my scarf and open my jacket.

It took a while to get to Brixton from here, crossing over the South Circular and heading down Brixton Hill. I was trying to remember if I ever walked to Brixton before. The answer is no. I’ve cycled quite a few times, but never walk. It is about 3 miles away so not without reason. In fact, I normally take the bus there. It was here in Brixton where I had to look at a map to remember which way to go. Luckily I didn’t need to pack a map as there are helpful map signs across London.

Now, which way do I go again?

Now, which way do I go again?

It was the only place I needed a map along the journey. I knew where I was going, but I was not sure which road I needed to turn down to get me there the quickest. Very helpful these signs are. My arrival in Brixton was at 6:48. I thought I may be making pretty good time, but it was hard to judge. Brixton was also the first place along my journey where the London underground came.

From here it was a short 13 minute walk to Stockwell. By this time the sun began to light up the sky a bit. I checked sunrise before I left the house and le Google said it was at 7:35 or so. It was nice to see the sun’s rays beginning to show.

The sun begins to light a Monday morning.

The sun begins to light a Monday morning in Stockwell.

I was trying to make it to the river by sunrise as I thought that might be nice. As I only had a half hour I thought I better kick it into gear. My next stop was Vauxhall at 7:18. Vauxhall is always busy as it’s a tube station, a train station and a major bus hub. And it’s right next to the river. It took another 6 minutes to maneuver all the crossing, all the while dodging bikes, scooters and cars which seemed to all be doing illegal movements on the highway. Luckily I made it unscathed.

Hey kids there's the London Eye!

Hey kids there’s the London Eye!

Arriving at the river, just to the East of Vauxhall allowed me the lovely view of the Houses of Parliament. On a side note, it was Vauxhall where 2 of my co-workers and myself met this summer on the “Walk to Work Day.” I remember meeting there at 7:30 and arriving just after 9, so I knew I was making alright time to get to work on time. This time I was also going a more direct route.

The tide is high as the morning arrives in London

The tide is high as the morning arrives in London

From here I was really enjoying the walk. If you have to walk to work, the South Bank of the Thames in Central London is not a bad place to be. And by this time, 7:24, the city was well awake. Lots of cyclists, people running, shops opening and many others scurrying around trying to get where they needed to be. 

Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament

It was somewhere around the London Eye when my feet started hurting. I was 2 hours into my walk and I had shoes which were well worn and not the best choice in foot ware for walking this far. My main concern was blisters. I didn’t want to get blisters right before going on a holiday where I’d be walking extensively. Luckily I stayed blister free. So 2 hours in I got to the London Eye.



It’s a nice area to walk through when it’s not jammed with tourists. The street cleaner was rocking through cleaning everything up before the throngs of foreigners arrive. I thought I’d be a tourist and take a picture of myself at the eye. I look old and ridiculous. That’s what happens when you get up at 4:15 I suppose.

And retouched on iPhoto as the photo was very dark!

Retouched on iPhoto for your enjoyment as the photo was very dark.

The sun was well on it’s way up as I headed East along the river towards Waterloo Bridge. And walking along this stretch of the river is one of my favorite things about this city. Waterloo Bridge is also the bridge I cycle over everyday. So from there I was roughly tracing my normal commute. Really I couldn’t have planned it better because the sun finally made it’s way over the buildings when I was nearly over Waterloo Bridge.

Nearly up!

Nearly up!

First glimmer.

First glimmer of the ball of fire.

One thing walking does is make you soak in all that’s around you. It was a great sunrise. But had it been any other day I would have seen a couple seconds of it on my commute in and thought “yeah that’s nice,” and gone back to focusing on not being run over. But having walked I had time to appreciate the view. And I’ll always remember this as the day I walked to work. It will stand out in my memory.

I arrived on the north side of the river at 7:52, which is about 15-20 minutes earlier than I normally am at this point. I headed up Aldwych and Kingsway. At 7:59 I arrived in the LBC.

That bit of brick across the road separates the boroughs of Camden and Westminster.

That bit of brick across the road separates the boroughs of Camden and Westminster.

I headed up Kingsway and into Holborn and Bloomsbury. I kind of forgot to mark down times of arrival as most of my brain thought I was already where I needed to be. Fail.

The sun's rays reach the Brunswick Plane.

The sun’s rays reach the Brunswick Plane.

And finally at 7:20, well ahead of schedule I arrived at St. Pancras. I was so chuffed that the weather was so nice for the walk into work. A bit chilly, but not much. By the time I got north of the river my gloves were off, my scarf was off and all my jackets were unzipped. I was sweating.

You have arrived at your destination.

You have arrived at your destination.

In total it took 2 hours and 4 minutes. That’s nearly a half hour ahead of schedule. Not too shabby. I was a bit sleepy and hungry when I got into work, but overall I felt great. I was very relaxed. Much more relaxed than when I arrive by bike. An hour or two later though I started stiffening up. My cycle ride home was fine, but today I was very sore and felt tight in my gluts all day. Who knew walking was such a good work out!?

The walk was great and I hope to do it again sometime soon as well as the reverse walk. Some company would be good as well. I think the biggest thing I got out of the walk was to keep things weird. Do something out of your normal routine sometimes. Make a memory or an event. You never know what you’ll glean from the experience. Me: I got sore butt muscles and strange looks from people at work when I told them what I did. Plus I got to see London wake up, which was something I’ll never forget. The walk also set me on the right mental path for the week. I have felt great so far and I think that will last into the weekend when I go away.

Any ways, my bed is calling. I hope you all give walking to work a shot sometime. Let me know how it is. Take care everyone and have a nice Thanksgiving (for you Americans out there).

Categories: London, London Walks, Walking | Leave a comment

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