Archive for the 'How to…' Category

Fancy a Run?

In London there are many different outlets for exercise–anywhere from the cheap and natural way of running outside on the streets to becoming a member of any of the hundreds of gyms or even taking part in any of the running events that are held year-round throughout London.  You can even decide on the intensity of the events–anything from a 5k for charity to the rigorous but world-renowned London Marathon.  But more on those later.

So fancy a run outside?  There really isn’t much to explain here.  Just put on some running clothes, find some shoes and grab that iPod and head to the streets, park, river, canal, etc and just go for it.  Up in Angel, I prefer to jog either down to Clerkenwell up to King’s Cross then back to Angel or I like to run along the Canal.  I’m trying to work my way up to running to Broadway Market and back.  So far I’ve made it halfway there before I desperately need to turn back around of fear of imminent collapse.  Either way, mix it up so you get to see new streets and new places that you wouldn’t have known existed before.  You can also track you run, get ideas for new runs or find running groups or clubs in your area at any of these websites:

Nike Plus


Map My Run

Now on to the gyms.  C and I also belong to a gym–Fitness First.  One thing to know about London is that there are the chain gyms and then there are you local independent gyms and then you have you council leisure centres.  As you probably can guess the price will go down from the chain–independent–leisure centres in most cases but so will the quality of equipment and facilities.  My dream gym would be the Virgin Active gyms.  These chain gyms just have that something extra to make the whole pain of going to a gym bearable.  There are pools, saunas, steam rooms, and a wide variety of classes and equipment.  The only downside is that the price is not for those sticking to a budget at all and you may need to provide your own lock for a locker.  Oh there is also a cafe and wi-fi.  Fitness First on the other hand has a diverse set of classes and loads of equipment including cross-trainers and treadmill with personalised tvs so you’ll never miss an episode of the Apprentice or Britain’s Got Talent.  However, only a handful of them have pools if you the type who prefers to do your exercise in the water.  C and I are still quite please with the gym and really don’t have any complaints and the price is still reasonable for us.  Another chain is LA Fitness but I really don’t know anything about the quality or membership price.  However, you can also try a local independent gym…just do a google search or take a look a this Time Out list of the best gyms to see if there are any near you.

Time Out Best Gyms

Lastly, the leisure centres.  In most cases these will be the cheapest but depending on the council and the quality could go either way.  So make sure you do research before committing to a membership by checking out all the options and prices and think rationally about how far you are willing to travel to go to a gym.  Also, it is worth waiting to get a promotion, so keep your eyes peeled!

Ok, now we are on to my favourite part–the events!!!!!!  Fancy a 5K, 10k, mini-triathlon, full triathlon, half marathon or full marathon?  Well London has it all.  I’ve never participated or even competed before in any fitness event in my life but this year I will do the Adidas Women’s5k  Challenge in September for a charity and today I just signed up for the Tree-athlon at Battersea Park.  Maybe next year I’ll work myself up to doing a half marathon but we’ll see.  Below are  just some of the many events you can get involved with or look into running on behalf of a charity.  If you’re a true champion you might want to enter the London Marathon which runs in April.  It is one of the top 5 marathons in the world raising millions for charities and with over 35,000 runners and celebrity runners and those running in full out costumes (enjoy the pictures at the end).  The 2010 London Marathon will now by sponsored by Virgin and the ballot has already closed for next year so if you fancy running you’ll have to wait to 2011. To check out some of the events see the list below.  Good luck!

Adidas Women’s 5k Challenge


London Marathon

Cancer Research UK 10k

London Triathlon

Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon



















A Challenge to Ourselves

Following our last post about how much we’ve been slacking in the blog department, I pose a challenge to C and myself.  We will post one blog entry a day for the next two weeks–that’s right 14 new posts starting from tomorrow 31 May to 13 June.  In an ideal world/my fantasy world of having abundant amount of time I would like to post everyday, let’s be realistic shall we, that isn’t going to happen and I know I will be on holiday starting 10 June for 2 and 1/2 weeks so I doubt I will update much during that time too.  But Challenge On!  Hopefully this will make up for the lack of posts in May (I know the last actually one was on 3 May).  Bad sunshine…bad.  Post 1 of Challenge–see you tomorrow!


A & C

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Off to Giraffe to do some quality brunch research!

Quick hit: london recommendations by the trendy

Or at least that’s how it feels from the look of  this slick/pretty website

Stumbled across this recently and am still enjoying it – they have maps of unique and interesting places to visit in cities around the world. The London one is pretty decent – a good mix of obvious and more difficult suss out yourself hip things. I don’t agree with everything they recommend – the White Lion Pub in their Covent Garden section, for example, is always so mobbed with people I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole when I lived around there – but all in all pretty cool.

Word of warning: this is definitely aimed towards those who have a bit of cash for shopping and eating, but they list a lot of gems so check it out.


Quick hit: walking site for London

The best way to see, experience, and ‘get’ London is to walk this city – as far and to as many random corners as you can. Also, if you haven’t noticed from today’s snowfall, the minute there is any problem London’s transport network gets pretty snarled up – and things are a lot closer than they may appear on the map. Chances are, if you’re in study-abroad accommodation, you’re in a pretty central location anyway – try walking to get anywhere. It’s often faster, cheaper, and a hell of a lot more fun that rocking along in a tube carriage for an hour, seeing nothing but a strange guy across from you who hasn’t showered in a few days or that annoying couple making-out or reading the London Paper/Metro over someone’s shoulder.

And the best way to figure out how to walk somewhere, besides peering at your London A – Z, is walkit. I’ve found this site a tad touchy, but it’s still pretty awesome – stick to as simple addresses as you can when typing in your ‘to’ and ‘from’ – full postcodes definitely work the best. And always select ‘less busy’! if the above link doesn’t work.

Happy walking! Trust me, even in February it’s totally worth it. Perhaps not in the sleet forcasted for Thursday and Friday this week, but most other times, go for it.

Tier 1 Imports

Welcome to Tier 1 London – a blog by two American ex-study abroad students who will only leave this city under the lock and key of a deportation officer (Dear Border Agency: we are currently legal. Haha. Seriously. Don’t take us.)

We started this blog to capture and share what we have come to love about London. When we studied abroad three years ago, we remember the feeling of being overwhelmed by how much there is to do and how much we could never explore. We hope this blog will give guidance on getting the most out of London living while amusing the newly arrived, temporary, and those who can actually claim the term ‘Londoner’. We’re going to include some entries particularly targeted towards American study-abroad students, since that was our experience. Look out for the tags ‘Don’t get voted off the island,’ ‘The Clash’, and ‘Love sights hate tourists’ for those type entries.

First, a bit about ourselves. For the sake of being international women of mystery we’re going to refer to each other as C and A.

I’m C. I grew up in Florida (no, not Orlando or Miami) and apparently got so tired of sunshine and bright colorful clothes that London was an obvious choice. I did my undergrad in north Florida. I studied abroad in London fall of 2005, on a British Literature program while living in a posh Bloomsbury area, but only because my university bought the building for cheap when Russell Square was the centre of the London crack trade in the 1980s before it became littered with million pound flats today. After returning to the U.S., I found I missed London so much that I returned two years later for grad school. I did a master’s degree in Social Policy at the London School of Economics (and political science! I hate economics!) and have managed to hold on for dear life. I’m the National Trust member, museum-lover, and wilderness/hey look at that tree seeker.

I’m A. I also grew up on the East Coast, but a bit north from Florida in a place that could still be considered the South, Northern Virginia (emphasis on the ‘northern’). I did my undergrad in Vermont where I studied political science and the three S’s: skiing, snowboarding, and sailing. I studied abroad in London in the spring of 2006, living in a flat right across from the Natural History museum in South Kensington. I’m sure I’ll never live in such a posh place again. After returning to the states, I immediately applied to a London grad school, spent my senior spring break in London, and was back on British soil by September 2007. I did a master’s degree in public policy at the London School of Economics and then scraped by through a period of extreme post-grad student poverty before securing a job and visa. I’m the official-unofficial photographer, music-lover, and spontaneous day-tripper.

We met in student housing for LSE, in another posh area we’ll never again see the inside of: Covent Garden. We now live in a dodgy flat in Angel, and we’re loving it. Especially since our grocery store, Sainsbury’s, re-opened this week. Man, that was rough.

About the categories we’ll be using for entries:

Brown Sauce? – Food. All sorts. Tea, chips, crisps, cafes, you get the point. And we still don’t know what brown sauce is, but we’re sure you’ll be asked if you want it at some point. We recommend saying no.

Culture vulture – Museums, arts, books, theatre: a small attempt to catalogue the crazy amount of high quality cultural stuff London has going on ALL THE TIME.

Look at that tree! – This is a corruption of one of our favorite Mitch Hedberg quotes, which we’ll use for parks and open spaces type posts.

Get off your ass – Learn from our experience: 2 pm on a Saturday is not a good time to figure what to do that day. These are the do it now or it’ll pass you by type ephemera London is also really good at cranking out.

Celebrity stalking – Because it sucks to read in the London Paper the next day that famous person x was in your backyard last night. Like that time Matt Damon was beneath A’s window and we missed it and then found the video of it on youtube. Crap.

Best of – I think you get it. Our favorites.

How to – Still obvious.

Love sights, hate tourists – Okay, we admit it, we really like the big London sights, but hate the crowds (C: especially tripping over the infestations of small children. A: That’s a little harsh, isn’t it? C: No.) This is How to See the Important Things the Keep Your Sanity Way™.

The Wilderness – There is life out of Zone 1. We were skeptical but continue to be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t get voted off the island
– These posts are survival guides and practical tips. And once upon a time we loved reality TV. Don’t deny it – you watched season 1 Survivor as well.

Awkward Old England – Curios, randomness, quirkiness: the things that surprise us day in and day out. Like British commercials. No offense, but we like them way better than American commercials. That WTF? factor just can’t be beat.

The Clash – American –British cultural moments. Pants is a dangerous word. Especially in the office. Just trust us.

Werewolves of London – The music guide, because we refuse to use London Calling, Waterloo Sunset, etc. etc. Really do check out that Chinese place mentioned in the song though.

Cheap/free – Because we’re really good at being poor here.

Final note: it’s a two-way street. One of the best things about London is stumbling upon cool stuff yourself, whether down a random side street or through purposeful searching, so please share and comment.

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July 2018
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