Tag Archives: London

Walk ‘The Line’ in London

Get your weekend cultural fix and dose of healthy exercise in one go with The Line, London’s first contemporary art walk. With works by artists such as Damien Hirst, gin distilleries to explore and pubs to wet the whistle by canals, all located within this east London walk, one might be mistaken to think they had walked in on a hipster’s paradise.

The Line begins near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and meanders through the canals and the Meridian line to North Greenwich. Dotted along the way are intriguing works of art, such as this stony-faced chap:

 

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

London Hikes Inspiration

As any outdoor-loving Londoner knows, it can be hard to escape into the outdoors from the city, particularly when you’re reliant on public transport.

So when I found a website with loads of day hikes, all within easy reach of a London train station, I knew I had to share the joy.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The Brainwave Centre London Santa Dash Review 2016

If you have ever been to London in December, there’s a good chance you would have seen hundreds of Santas running around the city. Each year various charities promote ‘Santa Dashes’ to raise money, and after spending several Christmases in the capital and thinking “I wish I could do that” as be-robed St Nicks breezed past, I finally got my opportunity when my workplace organised its own Santa Dash in support of Brainwave. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , ,

NATIONAL OSTEOPOROSIS SOCIETY 10K RUN HYDE PARK REVIEW

 

starting_line

A couple of months ago in the last fading rays of summer light, I made a resolution to maintain my summer cardio fitness levels year-round. No more excuses of evenings getting dark too soon, or Christmas festivities getting in the way, this year I was going to make sure I stayed at peak, all-round fitness 365 days a year. And in that spirit, I signed up for the Osteoporosis Society’s 10k run around Hyde Park on Saturday. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Getting a Green Thumb with The Conservation Volunteers

Lavender Pond TCV

One of the perks of my job is that once a year I get to take a day off work for volunteering. This time I was particularly lucky to take the opportunity to volunteer at the Lavender Pond Nature Park with The Conservation Volunteers.

I used to live quite close to this area, and for years I would gaze with intrigue into its gates, wondering what lay behind the old pumphouse and how to access those bridges on the pond. So when the opportunity to finally quell my curiosity arose, I pulled on my boots, tied up the hair and pulled on a pair of garden gloves, ready to get stuck in. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

A Wander Around Lumiere London

This past weekend London played host to its first Lumiere festival, a series of light installations placed around the capital. If you were reluctant to face the crowds, here’s a selection of a few of the installations we managed to get a peek of over the weekend. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

BUPA 10000 London Review

bupa run back (1 of 1)

This past weekend my friend Anya and I decided to spend our bank holiday Monday running the BUPA 10k for Save the Children instead of sleeping in, having a BBQ and knocking back a few drinks. While you might doubt our decision-making, the BUPA 10000 turned out to be a great event filled with a fun atmosphere, a beautiful route past London’s great architecture and lots of entertainment for runners and spectators alike.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

If You Do One Thing in London This Month…visit Kew Gardens.

Kew-gardens-greenhouse

For Londoners, Kew Gardens is what Stonehenge is to the rest of England – an iconic site representative of the area that all residents should visit at some point, but just the right distance away that it is practically the definition of the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Every Summer Solstice (or in Kew’s case, Christmas) everyone is reminded of their self-made promise to visit sometime along with some minor investigations of prices and travel, before it is pushed right back to its old place on the ‘Things to Do When I have Spare Time’ list, between cleaning out your wardrobe and updating your driver’s license address.

This is all a great shame, as Kew Gardens is a treasure trove of follies, interactive learning and exciting diversions that caters to even the most biophobic of visitors, and the arrival of spring in March can only improve things.

Kew-gardens-folly

 

Kew-gardens-pagoda

 

Kew-gardens-flowers

 


Kew-gardens-bear-impression

 

Kew-gardens-bear

 

Kew-gardens-peacock

 

Kew-gardens-house

 

Kew-gardens-treeline

 

Kew-gardens-tower

 

Kew-gardens-WWI

 

Kew-gardens-zen

 

Kew-gardens-mini-sunflowers

 

Kew-gardens-doorway

Tagged , , , , , ,

#Take12Trips Challenge, Trip One: Broadway, the Cotswolds

 

When it came to choosing a destination for my first #Take12Trips challenge, the choice was easy.

Only 1 1/2 hours on the train from London, with beautiful scenery, food and cozy pubs to escape the torrential rain, what better choice than the Cotswolds to celebrate the Valentine’s weekend?

The village of Broadway in particular, with its busy (for the Cotswolds, anyway) high street, central location to popular walks and cultural centres, not to mention great choice of pubs,  was the winner and so it was on Friday afternoon we giddily left work early and trundled through the countryside from Paddington.

Despite there being only one main street, we managed to get lost soon after our arrival in Broadway, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the weekend. Fear not, as a hard slog up Fish Hill soon brought us to our accommodation, the Farncombe Conference Centre.

Situated on its own 400-acre estate, the Farncombe offers rustic-styled accommodation at decent rates. However, it’s the estate’s panoramic views of the Cotswolds countryside and Broadway village that’s the clincher.

 

Farncombe Estate

farncombe-estate-tree

See?

Our day began with a four-mile circular hike to Broadway Tower, a Victorian folly created by Capability Brown and a favourite of artists such as William Morris and Rosetti. With the night’s rain suitably muddying our trousers and boots, we doggedly followed the slippery trail up to Broadway Tower.

The muddy ground didn’t stop others either, as some of the Tower’s locals ventured out from their huddle to meet us.

cotswold-sheep

 

 

kirsten-broadway-tower

After veering slightly off the trail, we discovered a deer enclosure nearby, and spent several long minutes quietly creeping up to the fence for a peek.Our efforts were eventually rewarded though, as we spied a group of them gathered under the tree before they sped off upon sight of us. My piece of advice for seeing them? Keep your eyes peeled and your footsteps soft, as the deer sightings are a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment!

broadway-deer

Further down the trail is a paddock of horses, which were earnestly chowing down on their breakfast and only paid us the slightest bit of attention in hopes of more delicacies. Now, I was never the kind of girl growing up that desperately wanted a horse, but these little ol’ guys were so sweet and friendly I couldn’t resist stopping to pet and feed them.

feeding-horses

broadway-horse-closeup

feeding-horses-landscape

Wandering down the trail, we came across an endless series of gurgling brooks, melodically flowing streams and quaint manor houses and cottages that are iconic to the Cotswolds.

farmhouse-gate

flying-bird

cotswold-house

Arriving at the end of the walk, Broadway High Street, we quickly scouted for a lunch stop and settled for Tisane’s Tea Room. With cosy nooks to take the weight off your feet, roughly 342342541 varieties of tea, and friendly staff, we quickly tucked into hearty portions of beans-on-toast and quiche, finishing just in time for the afternoon’s main event.

 

broadway-high-street

 

The rugby.

Watching England beat Italy was only improved by our surroundings in the Crown and Trumpet pub, a quirky and fun-loving establishment that was voted CAMRA’s Pub of the Year in 2012. With its good selection of beers, ales and ciders, friendly staff, and their own pub-cat, it is the type of place that makes you yearn for somewhere like it closer to home.

After getting ourselves in a suitably jolly state for woodland ramblings, we continued to explore the surrounding Broadway countryside, eventually stopping on the hillside to admire the view.

cotswold-way-field

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

London Walks: Boxhill

Box Hill is undoubtedly one of the easiest countryside areas for Londoners to escape to for a good day’s hike. Owned and managed by the National Trust, the area has a good selection of trails, panoramic views of the South Downs and enough follies to keep the walk interesting if woodland scenery is not necessarily your thing. Not to mention, it is only half an hour’s train ride from London Bridge.

However, Box Hill can be a little tricky to find if you don’t drive. When disembarking from Boxhill & Westhumble station, go past the School for Church Organists and head towards the T junction. Taking the subway to the other side of the road that is located on the left, follow the signs towards the car park for the National Trust Boxhill car park.

  It’ll soon become apparent that Boxhill is a fun hike as soon as you reach the start of the trail: STEPPING STONES!   Obviously it took a loooong time for the novelty to even slightly wear off….

 

stepping_stones

 

8ycf1

 

dog_stepping_stones

Enjoy hopping around on the stones for as long as you can though, as the trail right after the stones is steep and winding.

 

Boxhill_tree_trunk

 

 

i_heart_nature

 

However it is all worth it once you reach the top, with views stretching for 25 miles across the South Downs at the Salomon Memorial. Dedicated to the city financier Leopold Salomon who bought 230 acres of Box Hill and donated it to the National Trust in 1914, today Box Hill is known as a place of inspiration for British writers, as well as a few eccentric characters.

Purchase any snacks or drinks here, but be prepared to queue – Boxhill, and in particular the National Trust cafe, is a popular rest spot.

 

Log_Henge

 

Follow the trail towards Broadwood’s Tower, stopping to take a gander at the tree-stump Stonehenge on the left and the various wildflowers and butterflies that inhabit the area.   The word ‘tower’ might be stretching things a bit when describing Broadwood. Back in the day, when ruined castle remains and prehistoric monuments were the latest fashion trends, rich Victorians with time on their hands would build what are called ‘follies’, or faux-historical buildings and ruins with no real purpose other than to sit there and look pretty and entertain guests on walks around the rich Victorian’s property.   Luckily nature stepped in and made Broadwood folly even more impressive.

 

Broadwood_tower

 

 

John_tower

 

 

Broadwood_folly

 

 

After reaching the summit of a vast number of steps up the Mickleham Downs, take a lunch stop in the absurdly picturesque village of Mickleham. Complete with an ancient church, quaint pub and homes with lots of character, not to mention a private school that could easily pass for Hogwarts, this area is ideal for a pub lunch or picnic before attacking another steep section of the trail (keep an eye out for the ponies!).

 

Mickleham_church

 

Mickleham_church_interior

 

Mickleham_school

 

 

Boxhill_pony

 

The narrow path of overhanging branches and haphazard tree roots might make you feel like you’ve walked off the path, but continue onwards and you’ll suddenly walk onto a wide open plain. The Mickleham Gallops is home to a Bronze Age hoard and barrow, and an old Roman road nearby. It is also home to enormous oak trees.

  Boxhill_oak_tree

 

Continue following the path towards Headley Heath, where there are more achingly-cute English homes than Pinterest can take.

The path eventually arrives full circle back to Salomon’s Memorial. Before heading back towards the car park and stepping stones however (tempting, I know) walk to the right of the National Trust cafe and there visitors can see one of the more truly bizarre sites in the UK.

 

Boxhill_fort

 

One of 13 forts to line the North Downs, the Box Hill Fort was originally built in 1889 as a ‘mobilisation centre’ as a part of the London Defence Scheme. With the threat of continental invasion fresh in the minds of Victorian military strategists, the scheme was created to defend London as the last great bastion of the British Empire. Box Hill Fort however never saw battle, and today it is mainly used as an elaborate house for bats.

For more information and trail directions, please download this map here.

 

Salomon_memorial

Tagged , , , ,