Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Fascination with Running

Wherever you look in London, there are people running. They are in the parks, on the paths, on the streets and when they aren't running, they are planning when their next big run is. Ahh.. Londoners - you have to admire their determination to run in a smog and pollution ridden city after a long day of work and tube-travelling.

Traveller has to admit that she has not just been observing this phenomenon - she has become apart of it.

Besides the fact that it hurts, is tiring and takes time - there are so many positives to this form of exercise in the city. Honestly!

1. It's free (unless you are on a treadmill).
2. It allows you to enjoy the gorgeous parks that London has to offer.
3. It's a very good way of keeping off those winter pounds (for in London, it always seems to be winter), and
4. There is always motivation.

You can't go anywhere in London without hearing about the next big race. There are hundreds of races every year, from 5k's, to 10k's to half-marathons and the ultimate fitness test, the marathon. Even the local celebrities are runners, T has seen numerous pictures of the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Ronan Keating and Brit T.V stars pounding the pavement at various London marathons.

So, in saying that, T now has two races on the cards. First up, is a 5k run in the Race for Life on the 20th July and second is the Nike Human Race - a 10K run which happens in 25 cities all over the world on the 31st August. In London it happens at dusk, at Wembley Stadium, followed by a concert by the likes of Moby. Fun!

Well, fun... until you look at the facts.

- Traveller has never run over 5k.
- The race is in just over two months.
- In that time, T will be travelling and eating copious amounts of Italian food.
- There will be thousands of really fast runners there and,
- T has a hard time tackling a challenge when she is nervous. A lot of talking herself out of it tends to happen - which only takes more time away from the actual training!

In aid of fighting her anxiety, T has started to map out a plan in order to get herself fit for the race, and already that looks like a LOT of running. 136 k's worth to be exact! Eek! During this planning stage, T discovered that she actually likes the idea of running a little more then the hard work it takes to run 10k at a moderately fast pace.

On a more positive note - the London running hype has even reached her anti-exercise hubbie, who is 'considering' doing the Nike Human Race. T can't believe it! He hasn't committed yet, but he has been on three runs this week and has been running further each time. T is very proud!

On an even more positive note - if there is any way to combat the Heathrow Injection - this may be it. T and hubs are off to Italy for two and a half weeks tomorrow, and with all the pizza, pasta, wine and gelati on offer, they are going to need all the help they can get.


Thursday, 19 June 2008

Glorious Bath

When one thinks of the British city of Bath, images of Austen, the Roman Baths, and Georgian architecture spring into mind. As an avid Austen fan, this is one of the key cities in Britain that Traveller couldn't wait to visit! She couldn't wait to walk the very steps that Austen herself had walked. She also couldn't wait to see the sights where Austen's characters had strolled, had tea and where they had danced. When T imagined herself ambling down the streets of Bath witnessing these historical places, what she didn't picture was a garish red bus packed with loads of tourists with cameras around their necks and bright red earphones in their ears.

This taken into account, after Traveller and her hubbie arrived in Bath, Traveller was put off by Hubbie's suggestion that they should hop on a red bus so that they could get a better picture of the city and its surrounds. The red bus? With the ear phones? And the tour guide? This was not how Traveller pictured her first tour of Bath. However, as all attempts of renting bikes were thwarted, Traveller and hubbie jumped on the bus and were pleasantly surprised with a historical journey of Bath and its surrounds. With all of its red glare - the bus actually provided a wealth of information about Bath, and as Saturday was a sunny day, we were able to view all of the beautiful architecture, the lovely countryside and the main 'hot spots' in a 50 minute round trip!
One of T's most favourite stops was the Jane Austen Centre where you toured a small musuem of Austen's life and some of the films that have been made of her novels. You could even have 'Tea with Mr. Darcy' although T never quite found out what that was, as she is still fighting (perhaps a losing battle) the 'Heathrow Injection'. Hubbie, of course, made himself scarce when T went into the Austen museum.

Following the bus journey, T and hubbie had a fabulous night planned which included dinner at a a lovely restaurant, a play at the Royal Theatre and culminated in watching the ever-hilarious Eurovision contest. T could not think of a better way to spend her Saturday evening. They had a pre-theatre meal at a nearby Italian restaurant which was lovely but it was the actual theatre performance which was the best part. T had booked her and her hubbie in to see 'Blackbird' - a play written by David Harrower. The play was dark in subject - but so powerful and engaging. It was 1 hour and 30 mins long with no intermission, and T and hub were on the edge of their seats. The play had only two key characters, and the actors were on stage for almost the whole time. It was an excellent play and was featured in an excellent location - as the Theatre Royal is one of the oldest and most beautiful theatres in Britain.

Our next day in Bath was spent sightseeing. We started by touring around the Roman Baths - which hubbie loved! He stayed in there for hours, while T, after an hour and a half, took herself off shopping. The Baths were fascinating though, and T particularly enjoyed the Bill Bryson audio tour.

In the afternoon, we took a 'Mad Max' tour of Stonehenge and Lacock Village. Our tour guide was quite flustered and quirky and quickly shared with our little bus that he had a keen interest in crop circles and the unknown. Following this, he promptly passed around a book on the subject for all of us to have a look at! We were a bit unsure about him at first, but it turned into quite a humorous and unusual journey of the English countryside. T's favourite part was not Stonehenge (although it is quite fascinating), but was in fact, the tour of Lacock Village. Lacock is particularly famous because it was the set of the infamous BBC production of Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' where Colin Firth, as Mr. Darcy, set women's hearts fluttering worldwide in a wet T-shirt scene. T was super excited! Lacock is also famous for hosting the house where Harry Potter lived with his aunt and uncle in the first film.

Our final day in Bath was spent just as the Roman's would have - in an actual thermae spa. This is the only natural thermae spa left in Britain. The spa re-opened in 2006 and is quite the treat! You begin with steaming rooms and foot spas - there are four steam rooms infused with different oils, such as lavender, jasmine, mint and eucalytus. These were very hot, but smelled heavenly! Following this, T and hub cooled off in the open-air rooftop pool which has stunning views of the city of Bath, the Abbey and the surrounding hills. It was the most relaxing morning and a fitting end to our weekend in Bath, as within the next hour we were back on the train to London.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

A Cultural Day-Out

One of the things that Hubbie and Traveller love about London is how much there is to do here. Whatever you like to spend your time doing - T guarantees you can do it here. Last Saturday morning (after a late, last minute decision with our favourite French friends) we headed into Leicester Square to buy some cheap theatre tickets to whatever was going.

We arrived in Leicester Square agog at how many different places you could buy theatre tickets. After much discussion and question-asking, we bought tickets to see 'Mamma Mia' at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The best seats that they had were for a matinee session that very day, so we quickly decided to stay and explore the city whilst waiting for our show.
As Leicester Square is right near Trafalgar Square, we made our way over to the National Gallery as we all had never been. We promptly split up and covered the parts of the Gallery that we really wanted to see - it is much too big to do in one day. It was quickly discovered that the Gallery is one of the BEST free places to visit in London. Traveller was absolutely delighted with the amount of famous paintings there were in the gallery. There were paintings from Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Renoir and so many more. Now, T isn't the most discerning art student, but to stand a mere half-metre away from Van Gogh was simply breathtaking. We all walked away from the Gallery extremely inspired and uplifted and we hadn't even listened to any ABBA songs yet!
'Mamma Mia' the musical was something else. It was T's second London musical experience, and she will just say that it was oh so much better then the first! The songs, the costumes and the dancing were so much fun that even the people in the very back row were dancing in the aisles. Traveller can't wait for the film!
Another of T's and hubbie's cultural experiences over the weekend was a look through the latest art exhibition on the River Thames. We were walking by the river after having a lovely dinner and came across the 'Telectroscope'. Pictured, it is a device which allows people in London to see people in New York, in real time, through a person-size lens. Whilst there, after paying our £1 entry fee, we found ourselves waving at people in New York.
Close to us were Londoners talking to friends and family on the other side of the Atlantic, whilst looking at them through the massive lens! It was quite a reminder of life in London, as in the middle of June we were standing in a coat and scarf, whilst the Americans, on the same side of the equator, were in shorts and singlets boasting of their warmth. They also (we heard this from the people on their mobiles) had no entry fee!
Ah, London - why would you want to live anywhere else?


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