Burgess parkrun- a last minute decision and a panic jog

Burgess parkrun scenes including the lake that you run around

On the 15th July I was in London and so of course looked for a new parkrun to go to. Initially I had pencilled in Highbury Fields because it was fairly easy to get to (tube to Angel and then a mile walk up the high street), however due to the heat there were loads of issues with the trains and on Friday night when I checked, Angel station was closed and had been all day. I was also fairly near to Burgess (a couple of tube stops to Elephant and Castle, then a mile walk along Walworth Road), so opted for that. The journey planner said that the tube would only take 3 minutes, so I left later than I should have done. By the time I had walked through London Bridge station to the tube, time was getting on, and I came out at E&C at nearly quarter to 9! That didn’t give me a long time to get to the park and I was starting to panic about missing it. I thought I knew which way I needed to go as I’d looked at a map, but to be certain I looked at the maps on my phone but it was directing me to go a different way, so rather than risking running in the wrong direction I ran into a Sainsbury’s and asked a very helpful member of staff. Thankfully she pointed me in the right direction (the way I thought I needed to go until I checked my phone) and I made it to the park just as they called for the new runners welcome. Phew.

The route looked a little complicated online, and I had read on the excellent Blog 7t (amazing if you are a parkrun tourist) that you could get lost, but in the welcome they specifically said that you could not get lost on this course. Here’s hoping!

In fact it was pretty simple- basically a lollipop course, so out, around the lake, then back again. There were lots of marshals and I have to say that they were so enthusiastic (it reminded me of Ellenbrook Fields in that sense)- some of them were stood on benches but they were all whooping and cheering- not easy as some of them were in the full sun too.

As I got close to the lake the faster runners were heading back, but it didn’t ever feel congested (there were 322 runners that day to fairly busy). It was very hot that day, and the RD had warned everyone to take it easy. Some of the course had shade, but some was across open grassland so it was baking hot there. It is very flat though so on a cooler day it would be good for chasing a fast time. I somehow managed to finish in under 30 minutes which for a hot day was good for me.

In the out and back portion you ran through an underpass, and it had some interesting artworks, so once I had finished I walk/jogged back to take a look before heading back to the station. It had all these boats to commemorate the canal that was there (but had been filled in), some had things like wooden bottles carved into them (there used to be an R Whites warehouse in this location so it commemorated that too). I could also see The Shard across the park too- it really is quite central.

I was so pleasantly surprised by the park in general- I hadn’t been there before and didn’t know what to expect, but it had lots of interesting features including lots of wildflower meadows and flower beds, tennis courts, and a very nice looking café.  Check out Blog 7t if you want to find out more about the history of the park.

That was my 280th parkrun and my 86th different venue- ever so slowly creeping towards the next milestone!

A weekend in London- tea blending, Hamilton and Reasons to Be Cheerful pod

For Christmas, Andy gave me a voucher for a tea blending workshop from Bird and Blend Tea co (my fave tea shop), and one Friday in July I went to one of the events. (They have them fairly often at their shops but as we are not that local to one it involved travelling into London after work so logistically was a bit tricky to sort).

For Andy’s birthday I had booked tickets for Hamilton, and that was on the Saturday, so we opted to stay in a hotel for the Friday.

The workshop was at 6:30 so I had to head to the train station straight from work, and Andy met me having ordered an early dinner of pizza. (He had also been to the Crosstown cart close to the station and got us a doughnut to share later, and some of their cinnamon scroll almond butter which I have been keen to try). We had time for a short walk around Borough Market before I went in to the shop.

I was a little apprehensive as I was going there on my own, and when I got there everyone else was in pairs/ couples, but it was all so friendly and welcoming that I didn’t feel odd being by myself. During the evening you can have tea cocktails (or mocktails) or any of the teas they make, so I went for an iced chai (because theirs is amazing). There was a little warm up matching game to play when we arrived, matching up samples of tea to their type, and we impressed them by getting them all correct!

When we arrived each person had their name tag given to them, along with a tote bag containing some samples (including a pouch of their Bucks Fizz tea because a couple of people were celebrating birthdays), paper to make notes on and the empty pouches for blending.

Throughout  the evening we were given samples (one of each type of tea, eg one fruity  tea, one green tea), some were hot,  some cold brewed in water or lemonade, and even had a proper matcha demo, whisking it up first before letting us try one pure matcha and one flavoured topped with coconut milk.

Finally, we got to make our  own blends. They had tins of base tea (black, green, rooibos, white etc) and then add ins (rose petals, chai spices, lemon peel- all sorts).

I decided I would do one black tea, one rooibos and one fruity, as those are my favourite types. I really love their Belle’s Breakfast tea (black tea with rose petals) so I made my own even more floral version with rose, lavender and cocoa shells. I added chai spices and cardamom to my rooibos base, and then did a mix for hopefully cold-brew tea with hibiscus, chamomile, rose, orange peel, lemon thyme and lemongrass.

Special cinnamon scroll almond butter plus the tote bag and my tea blends

At the very end we could also purchase anything from the shop with a discount, and handily we needed some top ups so I bought a few too- the tote bag was very handy then!

I thoroughly enjoyed it and would happily do another one at some point too.

It was super hot that weekend (it was just before the ridiculous climate change heatwave) so the air con in the hotel room was very much enjoyed as we shared our doughnut!

Saturday morning was of course parkrun day, but I will get to that on another post as this will be too long otherwise. After checking out of the hotel we had a wander around the centre, getting sandwiches from Pret and eating them by the river before walking  to the theatre to see Hamilton. This was our third time of seeing it and it is still just as impressive- the energy from the performers is intense and it was just fantastic to see a live show.

London in the sunshine, cool sculpture at Kings Place, junior parkrun and Hamilton set

Sunday started at junior parkrun. I was going to meet my niece and nephew there again (they’ve been enjoying it) but they were not well, so I offered to volunteer. I ended up doing the funnel manager job, which I’d not done before. We only had 39 runners and not many coming in at the same time so it was not too tricky to keep track, but I think I’d find it very stressful at a busier event.

Then we were off to London in the afternoon again, this time to go to see Reasons to be Cheerful podcast at Kings Place (right by Kings Cross station). It’s a really nice venue- we’ve seen a few podcasts there- and the discussion was really interesting (it’s called Cabinet of Chaos if you are interested)- a range of guests in the first part and then Sadiq Khan in the second part.

What is your favourite show to go and see?

Ally Pally parkrun!

Yes, that’s it’s actual name!

(It takes place in the grounds of Alexandra Palace but it really is called Ally Pally parkrun)

The train line from WGC to London goes through Alexandra Palace so quite often I’ve looked out of the window at the big TV aerial, but I’ve never been to it. I really enjoyed my mini parkrun tourism to Finsbury park (also on the same line) so I decided that I’d head to Ally Pally this summer. They were cancelled on many weekends, so my only option was 9th July, and I got chatting to two running friends who fancied heading there too, so a date was booked.

To get to Alexandra Palace train station means taking a slow train, as the fast ones don’t stop there. It also meant there was only one train every half an hour, and the last possible one was around 8am getting in just after 8.30, meaning that if that was cancelled or delayed, the train after that would be too late. Happily my co-tourists agreed that the 7.30 train was not ridiculous but sensible, so we met on the train (I ran to the station, they drove to Hatfield and got on there).

The park is right by the train station, so we had plenty of time to wander around, walk up to the palace, admire the views across London, look at the ducklings in the lake and find out that no toilets were open before 9am. (This is fine for me because I hate using public toilets, but could be useful info for others).

At around 8:45 we wandered down to the start line and there was hardly anyone around! I wondered if because they had been off for a few weeks people had gone elsewhere, but it was a proper flash-mob parkrun in that one the new runners welcome was finished, it was packed (274 runners in a fairly narrow start).

They told us it was their summer route, essentially two laps but starting in the centre. You ran out from the centre, did two laps, and then ran back in to the start/finish (in the opposite direction). It was really varied, with parts of it being through open meadows, with views up to the palace, and parts in woods which were lovely and cool. Some of it was on tarmac paths, but some were dirt paths where you had to watch out for tree roots. There were a couple of steep hills, but one of them had the most enthusiastic marshal at the bottom reminding everyone that they could do it. There was also one very steep downhill section which I just could not run down!

I did speed up a bit too soon for the final sprint as I didn’t realise quite how long we had run before joining the loop!

Scenes from the run, finish token and the 3 of us at the sign

Because the trains weren’t that frequent and I needed to get back (we had to pick up some medication from Watford hospital) we didn’t hang around for too long after, but of course we had the train journey home to chat together too.

It was such an enjoyable morning out- I would happily go back there, and I’d be interested to see their winter route too. I don’t mind hills (we don’t have that many flat parkruns in Herts) and it was very varied which made it interesting.

That was my 85th parkrun venue, for number 279. Slowly heading towards the big 100!

Which parkrun do you think has the best name?

The Netherlands and DLP May 2022

For May half term we had a bonus day for the Jubilee (the Friday before), which meant plenty of time to train it around Europe.

First up were a few days in The Netherlands, visiting The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The main reason for The Hague was to complete my parkrun alphabet, but I am so glad we went there as it was just wonderful.

The Hague

The city centre had lots of pretty buildings, and loads of canals, lots of parks and green spaces and then by the coast a huge beach.  We did have a slight problem in that we popped into a shop (AH I think it was called- there were lots of them around) to get some water and snacks and found out they didn’t take credit cards- we hadn’t taken much cash as you just never need it.

The cities were all easily navigable by public transport- trains between cities and then walking of the tram to get around.

I really liked the cute little “tourist trams” in Rotterdam- they looked like the ones from San Francisco!

Rotterdam (plus a photo from parkrun – you can see my huge plait in the bottom left)

Rotterdam had a port to wander around, and a huge hall filled with food stalls and market stalls. I couldn’t resist the acai bowl. We found an awesome vegan pizza bar (even better than Purezza pizza we both decided) for dinner.


We found a vegan pancake place (Mr Stacks) which was just so good. We got one savoury and one sweet to share, and that was a very good idea.

After a few days it was time to get the train over to Paris- we’d booked (you have to) and so got some lunch bits to take on the train as it was around 3-4 hours.

Then we had a few days in the parks! We do go on rides but also are happy to wander around and enjoy the atmosphere, but over the 3 days we managed to go on all the rides that we wanted to. I have to say that although I love Florida, DLP do the catchiest tunes. There were rainbow flowers to mark the start of Pride month.

DLP. That bottom left picture is from the pre fireworks show where they use drones to make various shapes in the sky. It’s pretty amazing.

DLP were celebrating their 30th anniversary so it’s a great time to go as there are extra events, extra shows, extra parades and also extra food items. The extra parade was pretty special, with cast members dancing down Main Street, characters following in floats, and then they all got up onto stages in front of the castle and danced (for ages!)- they even rotated around so you could end up being close to all the characters at one point.

Character meets were back! Last time you had to stand back and also still wear a mask, but this time that was all gone and I got to hug Stitch! The queue was quite long but it was entertaining as he’d interact with each guest in a different way, pretending to eat their pen or adjust their ears or run away.

Food highlights:

Top tip– don’t buy a tea in the park as they are small and super expensive. Go to the Starbucks in Disney Village for huge cups plus plant milk.

They did a special vegan panini for the 30th with vegan cheese and loads of veggies. There were food stalls in the studios, including a Vegan Kitchen- the poke bowl from there was tasty, but the star was the chocolate cake as they warm it up for you and it is so good- more like a brownie in a way.

Of course I was very excited that Dole Whips were on sale (historically in DLP they were not the same, they were horrible whippy ice cream with pineapple mixed in)- actual pineapple ones! Although the café was hidden from the path- we had a few people ask us where we had got them from.

We also tried the vegan fish and chips as Andy was quite intrigued. Neither of us like fish (obvs I don’t eat it but I never liked it when I was a child) but thankfully the filled didn’t taste fishy, just sort of like battered quorn.

Yes I have my Dole Whip t-shirt on. When in Rome…

I also bought  one of the mugs because I liked the design. It came with chocolate cake, but what they did was scoop some batter into the mug and microwave it. It wasn’t vegan so Andy ate it, but he wasn’t that impressed- it was very pale looking! The chocolate cake in the studios was much nicer according to him.

After a few days there it was time to get the train back to Paris to get the Eurostar home. What a wonderful few days.

Did you enjoy the Jubilee Bank holiday?

Zuiderpark parkrun- my parkrun alphabet is complete!

Ah, this has been such a long time in the making!


Fast forward over 2 years and I finally got to run there!

The Queen’s Jubilee meant that we had an extra day off work on the Friday before half term, and the day before was a training day, meaning we could book a Thursday night Eurostar and then have all day Friday to be in The Hague, minimising the chance of me getting lost. (And of course also sightsee).

The journey was good although there were very long queues at the Eurostar check  in- at least unlike flying you know they are not going to let you get stuck in security. The train went to Amsterdam but we had booked to Rotterdam, and then it was around a 20 min train journey to The Hague, all very easy (apart from the ticket machines being outside of the barriers of the station in Rotterdam). Our hotel was right by the station which helped.

I will do a separate post on the trip, but I absolutely loved The Hague and am so glad that I went. Without the pull of the parkrun alphabet, I would probably have never been there, but I am so glad I did because it was a wonderful city- so pretty with canals and parks, but also by the sea with a huge sandy beach. Honestly, even if you don’t care about parkruns or alphabets, have a look at it.

The huge copper building in the centre of the park is amazing! Plus makes it easy to find the start. I loved the Dutch signs.

Zuiderpark parkrun is a few km from the station, and there was a tram (9) that went straight there. After my disaster in Dublin it was just sensible to get the tram there. I couldn’t quite work out the times, but they were pretty regular (every 10/15 mins), with pay stations on board to get your ticket. I had only packed a t-shirt, no long sleeved tops, but it was pretty fresh at 8am and so I took my rain jacket with me for an extra layer, and standing by the station in the wind I was pretty glad of it.

I got on the tram and tried to buy a ticket, but it said “no tickets available, no card purchase available, no cash accepted”- a woman approached me and asked if I was going to parkrun- she was too. I showed her my tram ticket from the previous day (bought on board) but neither of us could get the machine to work. We had to hope that if a ticket inspector got on the tram we could explain why we didn’t have tickets for that day. We had a lovely chat on the way- she was based in Brussels and had been doing lots of European parkrun tourism (that morning she’d got a bus at something like 4am to get over here)- it turned out we had been to lots of similar parkruns in the UK too.

The trams were easy to navigate as they all had electronic screens announcing the next station, so it wasn’t long before we arrived in the park and started looking for the start. I’d seen the big copper building on their course page, so knew to head to that. Of course we met more tourists walking through the park, and it didn’t take long to see the sign directing people to the start (if you walk the circumference of the building you will find it).

Photo op by the big sunglasses!

The run briefing was completed in English first, and then in Dutch, and of course there were plenty of tourists. We were warned to watch out for bikes and with perfect timing a bike sped past. Some people had emailed in about them completing the alphabet, other people were doing their 100th- it felt as if everyone was celebrating something. I took a few photo by the huge sunglasses, and some of the signs in Dutch (making the most of a new parkrun country too), and decided to tie my rain coat around my waist as I knew I would get warm running. I particularly liked the “Let op:renners” sign which means “watch out riders”- I think warning cyclist of runners?

Then we walked to the start and we were off! It is a fast course- two flat laps around the park. Lots to see on the way around, and a few marshals at key points who were all very enthusiastic. I had a total mental blank over what thank -you was in Dutch, but they all seemed to be speaking in a combination of English and Dutch anyway.

My pace was fairly quick (and a lovely royal flush negative split too)- 8:55, 8:46, 8:44 and 8:30 for the finish. But it was pancake flat with nice wide paths and not many runners so no congestion at all. I didn’t want to rush through and not enjoy the experience, I was so happy to be there after the 2 year wait.

There were 85 runners and I had token 50. I took a few more photos at the finish but didn’t want to keep Andy waiting too long (and we had a train to Rotterdam later in the morning) so I jogged the 1/2 mile back to the tram stop and got one a few minutes after arriving. Perfect.

Starbucks from the station to warm up after too!

So there we have it, the parkrun alphabet has now been completed. I am so glad that I chose this one as my Z, as it was a great place to visit and I am sure we will now go back at some point.

I do love seeing the new badge appear on the chrome extension (third from the left on the top row) and of course a new country flag, although sadly since Crissy Fields stopped I’ve lost my USA flag. I shall have to remedy that soon, as more parkrun tourism calls of course …

Have you visited anywhere that surprised you? Where has parkrun taken you to?