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Postman’s Park

May I recommend a slightly famous but often overlooked little gem of a park, Postman’s Park. Literally one minute walk from St. Paul’s, it’s well worth a look (it was also featured in the movie Closer, if you happened to have seen that). Postman’s Park is a tiny oasis in the middle of the city financial institutions. It was established by a Victorian guy who wanted to celebrate ordinary men and women, so in one corner there are all these tiles that celebrate ordinary heroes, mostly people who saved others from drowning or from fires. Their deeds are described in duly lurid Victorian prose, but it’s touching nonetheless. The park is a charming little spot – go on the weekend, when it’s not crowded with office workers on lunch – and the unique tiles (handpainted by the Victorian man who set up the thing who was an artist) are truly worth a gander:

Tile 1



Victorian quirkiness and sentimentality at its best. To get there, leave St. Paul’s tube station (or just leave St. Paul’s cathedral area, if you happen to go tomorrow while the tube strike is still on) and walk towards the Museum of London (should be signs). Postman’s Park has an entrance that is hard to see until you are right up on it on the left, just as the Museum of London comes into sight.


Hamley’s for all your summer fun

Now that we are into June we can almost officially call summer.  The weather here has sure felt like it lately, with just a few exceptions here and there.   With great weather comes the great outdoors.  For Londoners (those without cars or means and ambition to travel outside of their zone) this means tromping to your local park for some sunning, picnics and playful games with friends, families and even strangers.  For all those park outdoor activities i.e. frisbee, cricket, football, american football, etc, why not head to Hamley’s–the most famous toy store in London, located in the middle of Regent’s street almost equal distant from Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street.  If you go into Hamley’s, you will quickly see it is not just for kids.  Last year, my friend and I went there and bought our first frisbee of the season.  There are plenty of toys, games and outdoor play equipment to suit any fancy and even a broad selection of board games for that ever expected rainy day.  My next purchase I think will be a cricket set or maybe a croquet set.  Summer is just beginning, so go to Hamley’s then head straight to the park for a perfect afternoon.

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


















Halfway There: 7 Down, 7 to go

And with that, we mark our half way mark for our challenge to ourselves.  7 down and 7 to go!!!!!!  I hope you all have been enjoying the flood of updates!

All the best, 

A & C

Westfields Shopping: High Street vs. High Roof

So if you ever get tired and weary of trudging up and down crowded High Street, especially Oxford Street which is just unbearable on the weekends, then head over to Westfields at Shepard’s Bush.  Westfields just opened last year before Christmas time and it is the best indoor mall in London.  The first time I walked into there it was like being back home (States) at our local mall since the high street model has fallen out of style other than quaint main streets in small towns.  This is the case at least for where I live in Virginia.  Westfields holds all the high street shopping under one roof so you never have to worry about the rain or finding the next tube station down the road because everything is convenient in the shopping centre.  You’ll find your main departments stores such as Debenhams, House of Frasier and your favourites off the high street including Zara, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, H&M, Gap, Aldo….the list really just goes on and on.  You don’t have to worry about the crowds too much, the walkways are the widest I have seen and they have plenty of seating where you can take a break and have a smoothie from Boost or a coffee at one of the many cafes around the shop.  You can even stop for dinner at any of the dozen of well-known restaurants located inside and outside Westfields.  Also, a movie theatre is going to open soon so you really can make it a full day.

This is where I spent this rainy Saturday today and I finally came away with the essential summer clothes I have been lacking these past few weeks of nice, warm London weather.  Had a smoothie then headed on back to Angel all under 3 hours. Whoohoo.  Where you feel you need a new outfit, or retail therapy or even just to help the economy out, Westfields should be at the top of your list!

Westfields London Shopping Centre

Mon-Wed 10am-9pm; Thurs-Fri 10am-10pm; Sat 9am-9pm; Sun 12pm-6pm

Best London blog there is: Londonist

Enjoy TimeOut but get a bit bored of their endless listings? Enjoy reading London blogs but always looking for one that covers it all? The answer: Londonist

My friend and fellow London-phile, let’s call her ‘E’, recommended me to this group blog 3 years ago just after I had left London after my study abroad program. I visited it frequently, and I must say it was actually a huge factor in getting me to come back to London. is simply wonderful – a constant stream of news, lists, reviews, cheap stuff, ephemeral things to do, major festivals, minor festivals, random lunch spots – it’s all there, and it’s all delightful. It’s a blog that is alive with passion for London and the amazing variety and sheer volume of stuff this city has going on all the time.

Whenever I’m looking for something to do, whether it’s that night or over the next week, or whenever I want to ‘connect’ back to the sense that this city I live in is not just the busy road outside my flat and my commute to work but a thriving, incredible place full of wonderful, interesting things, I always find myself going to Londonist and browsing their frequent postings.

So, thank you Londonist. You make this world a better place, and I would say bookmark it, RSS it, go there frequently – it’s pretty impossible not to fall in love with London all over again after reading just a few posts.

Bea’s of Bloomsbury

So the weekend is quickly arriving and what is a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than having a tea and scone in the heart of Bloomsbury.  (Also be sure to check out our other post on afternoon tea including some of favourite tea spots in London.)  Bea’s of Bloomsbury is situated right off where Rosebery Avenue turns into Theobald’s Road before you reach Holborn if your traveling from Clerkenwell.  You won’t miss this cute little bakery because there is an immaculate wedding dress cake creation in the window calling you in promising delicious scones, cupcakes, cakes and other fun snacks.  They have a few outside tables which will suit any sun lover and I would suggest their tea and scone deal for just 5 pounds.  It even comes with a miniature size jar of jam which you may even be tempted to each straight out of the jar with the tiny tea spoon also provided.  These are probably some of the best scones I’ve had in London as well and for the price you are definitely getting more than value.  So go enjoy your tea and scone this Saturday!

Bea_s_of_Bloomsbury_1Bea’s of Bloomsbury

44 Theobalds Road WC1X 8NW

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