Originally I was going to head to Fulham for the parkrun there (cross referencing the parkrun tourist tool with the tube map made my eyes go funny after a while) and had some lovely helpful directions from the friendly folks on the parkrun tourist facebook page. However, when I started to look into train times, it turned out that because Putney Bridge (the nearest station) was past the split on the District line, the trains weren’t very frequent and it all got a bit complicated. So I went to Mile End parkrun instead- still on the District line (we were staying right by Blackfriars, on the same line) but in the other direction and before any splits which made the journey easier.
I allowed time to miss my train and to get lost in the park, so I was on the platform at about 8.15am- there was not one other person on either platform, it was quite spooky!
Thankfully the parkrun was very easy to find- I did write out the instructions (and which tubes I would need on the way out and back) on a post it note, but pretty much as soon as I came out of the station I could see the edge of the park. It has a cool feature of a green bridge (a bridge with the park on top, so the park can carry on past the road), and as it’s a long thin park it just meant walking to the bottom of the park.
Despite it being fairly mild on Friday, it was really cold on Saturday morning and I was wishing I’d brought my gloves with me. Also, when I first arrived there were only a couple of volunteers and no runners.
It was damp and misty so you couldn’t see the tops of the tall buildings/ the green bridge/ a Change 4 life poster/ my instructions
At around 8.50 runners started appearing- I guess that most of them walk or run so you can get there as close to 9 as possible. Randomly a lady came up and chatted to me- it turned out that she used to live in Harpenden and used to run the St Albans parkrun- such a small world! The RD did a very friendly new runners talk and then there was a very festive briefing (reindeers and dogs on a short lead please…)- he had a whistle which he blew to get everyone listening which I quite liked!
The route was two laps, although as you can see it was more like out, around a little lolly-pop shape and then back again. As the park had a divide in the middle of the paths (I think to divide the cycle path to the walking bit) and you kept to the right, it meant that the faster runners were kept away from everyone else. Although it’s pretty flat, you did run up over the green bridge and another incline, but it was a very fast course. I wasn’t sure how I’d do, but I ended up with a fairly speedy time and nice mile splits of 9.34, 8.57, 8.35 and then 7.55 for the final sprint! Whether it’s always a fairly speedy one (the tail walker was running when I passed him) or it was just that one I’m not sure, but I finished with 27.55 and I was nearer the back, 91/131 – my 36th course (I think – hard to scroll up and down with the list of events now).
As my Nan was from that area of London, I decided to donate my time from that parkrun for the ARUK charity (there’s a link in the results email).
I was really cold, and I had a few mins before my train so I popped into Starbucks for a warm drink to take on the tube with me. I am not normally a fan of Christmas music but they were playing The Muppets singing the 12 Days of Christmas which I do approve of! Andy had been out for a walk and got us a cinnamon roll for breakfast, so after a shower it was time for another wander in London. We’d seen signs for Christmas by the River, but that turned out to be a few small (and expensive- £6 for mulled wine!) stalls. It was still very misty- you couldn’t see the top of The Shard.
We had decided to avoid the crowded places, so after walking by the river for a bit we got the tube up to Angel. Here I somewhat ruined Andy’s surprise by commenting that I thought there was a Bluebird tea shop in Angel now. We had a little wander and then “happened” to come across it- this was a bit of a Christmas surprise for me (whoops). Although to be fair it was still a surprise as I had no idea where it was and that we were going there. Andy let me choose some tea (I went for the vegan Snowball tea which is black tea with coconut, chocolate and vegan marshmallows) and then of course had to get myself one of their amazing tea lattes.
On the map, Finsbury Park didn’t look that far (where we needed to get the overground from), but in reality it was about 2.5 miles, so after that and walking back from the station to home we felt we had earned an afternoon on the sofa.
It was too hot for the fire so we just had some candles on instead. First up was Home Alone (such a classic) and then it was time for the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special. It’s nearly 10 years old now, but there are so many little touches that epitomise a British Christmas.
I also made my version of the Gail’s bakery Christmas bun (it’s like a cinnamon roll but with orange peel and almonds and dark chocolate and all sorts of good things)- using a basic cinnamon roll mix and then sprinkling the dough with a few chocolate chips, orange peel and a few leftover chunks of marzipan. As it can be left overnight to rise in the fridge, it’s perfect to make ahead, so I put it into foil tins and have frozen the others for another day.
On Christmas Eve we started off with a cinnamon roll, pot of tea and fruit for breakfast before heading over to St Albans. We had a few bits to look for (mainly I wanted to get Andy some whisky chocolates which kept being out of stock each time I went in), and I had a voucher for The Pudding Stop and thought I might buy our Christmas pudding from there. We parked a way out of town and walked in, aiming for a long walk around the park and lakes too, but it was so cold and I’d not even brought gloves with me, so it got cut short. Sadly when I asked, the puddings weren’t vegetarian (they must use beef suet), so we came home, had some soup to warm up, wrapped up more and then went on a longer walk near home. Of course after all the fresh air we could spend more time watching Christmas films- A Muppet Christmas Carol (while we had some tea to warm up), and then after dinner It’s a Wonderful Life and The Snowman- more classics.
Which Christmas movies do you like to watch? Which London parkruns do you recommend (especially if they are easy to get to..)? I feel like as London is so close I could really visit a few more- Fulham is on the list but I think I’ll be doing it once Dad is back running again.