Last Sunday, I pulled on my sneaks, a fresh race day t-shirt and joined the thousands of other people running The British 10km London Run. Despite the early start it was hot and muggy, and the route (though everyone keeps laughing at me for saying so) was surprisingly hilly. The roads between the Strand and Victoria Embankment are steep when you're running up and down several times! The race, dubbed 'the world's greatest road race' follows an iconic route, along Piccadilly, past various key sights, along the Embankment, and finishes up near Westminster. It felt good! I was running solo, in my extra springy, fail safe Adidas Ultra Boost, looked like a dork in my sweatband having foolishly cut my hair too short for a ponytail the night before, and listened to Jamie XX on repeat the whole way round. My time was 57:10, and I'm happy enough with that. Now, for the next one!
Thank you to Vitality who gave me the chance to run this race:
Vitality, the health and life insurance that rewards people for being healthy, is the title sponsor of the Vitality British 10k London Run and is one of nine events in the Vitality Run Series.
After the race and some crazy back and forth down Piccadilly trying to find my stuff (a situation where Find My iPhone came in very handy), I was starving and much in need of feeding. Knowing I'd be in central, a couple of friends and I had booked brunch at Radio Rooftop, ME Hotel. If you've been to Radio Rooftop you'll understand that it's a very glamorous — in fact probably London's most glamorous — rooftop terrace, atop the ME Hotel in Aldwych, With marble floors and walls, gleaming white sun loungers and 360 degree views across the city, it's a pretty impressive spot. Needless to say I looked somewhat underdressed in my race day top that I refused to change out of, plus I skirted the no-trainers rule, but the staff did treat me like royalty because of my medal!
We kicked things off with Blood Orange Mimosas — the best way to start Sunday brunch. Radio Rooftop tends to be more a nighttime/ cocktail hour hangout. Its weekend brunch offering is completely new, launched just in time for summer with a hashtag #MEYOUBRUNCH, which I like with the play on the 'ME' in ME Hotel. The menu (not cheap, though not ludicrous for the odd glamorous occasion, or to impress a visitor from out of town), is as glamorous as the surroundings, with a varied selection of dishes such as Croque Madame, Truffled Wild Mushrooms on Toast, Crab Omelette, Pulled Pork Burger, Asparagus with Duck Egg, and Shakshuka.
In need of a hearty feed, I went with the Shakshuka (£10), anticipating it not to be as good at Ottolenghi's at NOPI, but keen to make the comparison. It was actually very good, with a rich and tomato sauce and eggs with perfectly runny yolks, all baked in a cast iron Staub pan and served with 2 slices of sourdough. NOPI do theirs with a little more oomph, with goat's cheese and garnish, but there's no doubt this was tasty. I know it sounds silly, but I always like it when you can only see a sneak peek of the eggs with Shakshuka, so when you break into it, they're somewhat of a surprise, whereas with this, with the egg very much visible, there was no surprise element.
I also ordered sweet potato fries on the side (just done a 10km so they were totally justified), which I really enjoyed. They weren't crisp but they weren't limp, they were sort of baked to an in-between point, with sweet, fluffy insides. I had no problem polishing those off — great dipped in my Shakshuka too.
Keith got the Pulled Pork Burger, which came in a shiny-top brioche bun, was full of meat, and had a side of sweet potato fries — not a bad serve for £15. Chloe, though undecided, went with the Poached Eggs on Sourdough with Avocado Puree, Spinach and Bacon Dust (£12). She did raise the Bacon Dust query with the waiter and asked for the option of regular bacon but he advised the dust version was actually better, so she took his guidance and went with that. The dish was delicious, with perfect eggs and a tasty avocado puree both under the toast and under the eggs, but if you've ordered a dish with bacon, you expect a meaty rasher, not a scattering of dust. Aside from that dish perhaps being a little too glamorous for its own good (straight up poached eggs, bacon and avocado would be a better shout), the brunch in all was great. It's not somewhere I'd go on a regular basis — though I wouldn't say no to those Blood Orange Mimosas on the regular —mainly due to the fact that I'm way East and it is quite expensive, but for special occasions, to take visitors, or a leisurely catch up with the girls, it's perfect.
If there's one thing I love more than sneakers, it's monogramming. This present from PUMA, which arrived in the height of the Wimbledon future, couldn't have been more spot on. A great new tote bag, a box for keeps, and a sparkling new pair of PUMA Match kicks. Now all I need is a racket. No joke though, I am thinking about taking up tennis...
"Don't run. Push the earth down with your feet" — Charlie Dark, Run Dem Crew
By no stretch of the imagination have I always been a runner. It was only about 18 months ago that I learnt I could do it, struggling round the breathing difficulties, getting past the 2km mark and investing in trainers that were actually meant for running in (note, AirMax aren't). Runners always said "you'll get the bug soon" and I always thought, no, I definitely won't. Something that felt so impossible now makes me feel so invisible. Starting my day with an 8km run to work is a better stimulator than any coffee. A wind down 3km loop works better than any massage. And a rare jog with Ed is one of the happiest feelings. He inspired me to stick with running when it was tough, encouraged me to do my first half marathon, and continues to make me improve.
The novelty of getting across central London or from A to B using just my feet and willpower is a novelty that's yet to wear off and one that I hope doesn't any time soon. Without meaning to preach, I urge anyone who outrightly says, "I can't run" to go and run. Stick with it. Accept it's tough to start. Know it gets easier. And then enjoy the transition of hating it to loving it. Chances are you probably can't remember being bad at something then improving — spelling, handwriting, riding a bike are all memories lost in your childhood — so the feeling of getting good at something as an adult is probably completely new.
On Sunday I'm running the Vitality British 10km London Run, my first race since Hackney Half Marathon, and I can't wait. I'm no speed Queen, I simply run for the enjoyment and this is a particularly nice one because it loops around iconic London landmarks including Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Downing Street — hopefully all in the sun!
Who else made the most of World Gin Day on Saturday? It's fair to say I indulged. Is there anything a G&T won't make easier? The lovely people at Bombay Sapphire were kind enough to introduce me to their brand new, super premium, small batch distilled Star of Bombay a while back, which I can confirm is delicious and have since converted to, so G&Ts at home are extra smooth and glorious (helped too by the fact we now justify splurging on Fevertree).
I forgot to share this nice infographic advance of World Gin Day but it's just as insightful afterwards. Impressive that 65% of the world's gin is drank as a gin and tonic! And that Spain has the largest population of gin and tonic drinkers — with my efforts, I'd have sworn it was Clapton...
Ultimate Gin & Tonic
1 part Star of Bombay
1 part Fever Tree Indian tonic water
1 piece orange zest
Method: Place ice cubes into an empty glass and stir rapidly until the glass is chilled. Add the Star of Bombay and stir several times to chill liquid slightly. Add tonic water. Add the orange zest.
Mornings are either spent working or running. When there's not a pressing deadline I'm running late for, I pound the pavements. It's the best way to kickstart your day. I'm extra bright these days thanks to beautiful new kit from Roxy — way more than just bikinis and board shorts.
I can't stop listening to the new Jamie XX album, it's impossibly perfect.
God knows I love a pizza. Always, all ways, I'm keen. I'm spoilt in Clapton with not one but two awesome pizzerias, Sodo and Yard Sale Pizza, both of which probably think "Oh god, not her again", 'cos I can always eat the place empty (and actually once at Sodo when they ran out of dough...).
Yard Sale love a collaborative project. They dipped their fingers in the water last Burns Night and paired up with Deeney's for a Haggis Pizza, and now they're back at it again. They weren't going to let their first birthday go down without a bang so they took the opportunity to pair up with fellow Monty's Deli — the home of London's favourite pastrami sandwiches.
Though not quite the collab' for me as a non-meat eater, I can appreciate it regardless (pizza, good; pastrami, gooooood), the fruit of their labour being a calzone packed with pastrami, sauerkraut and fior de latte mozzarella, available for one week only until 9th June. (Run, quick!!)
We went down for their birthday party to share well wishes and more importantly sample the limited-edition creation. Whilst I couldn't obviously try it (don't worry, I didn't miss out, I devoured margarita slices by the dozen) Ed reassures me — and you — that's it delicious, a combo that works, and ultimately worth racing all the way over here for. Remember though, be quick, it's only available this week.
Happy Birthday Yard Sale. Looking forward to another year of pizza. (And hey, make the next collab' veggie, yeah?)
Genuinely don't know a morning that doesn't look like this. This morning I'm writing about Leeds' breakfasts for BuzzFeed — I'll share the link once it's up. After that's it's back to thinking about Amsterdam for another piece. I'll share my trip diary from there as soon as I get the chance. Been so busy recently!
I'm powering through with my boyfriend's choice of music, this Roman Flügel podcast, and after all this early morning writing, I'm off for breakfast at Hubbard & Bell — their avocado on toast with smashed pistachios is heaven.
You don’t have to be around me for more than 5 minutes to know that I love pizza. I mean, I love pizza. More often than not I favour Sodo Pizza Café, not just because it’s conveniently at the top of my road but because its sourdough bases are crisp and perfect, and its cheese to tomato ratio is spot on. But when there’s talk of a new pizzeria (especially one that’s close to home in East London) I’m there like a bullet, hence I had to go and try out Circle Pizza Co, the newest arrival on Hoxton Square.
Circle Pizza Co’s claim to fame is its 150-year-old sourdough bases, which are way fresher than they sound, I assure you. What that means is they’ve kept feeding their original sourdough starter with fresh ingredients, thus keeping it always active and meaning technically yes, it’s got 150-year old origins.
Less of the technical stuff, more of the experience. Ed and I went straight after work, starving, and were able to sit outside under the awnings on the square. We ordered quickly from the 6 or so options, and our pizzas arrived swiftly, of good size and with extra, extra cheesy toppings. All creatively named, I went with the Dark Side of the ‘Shroom, which had San Marzano tomato, fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, homemade ricotta cream and sundried tomatoes. The bases have slightly more to them than Sodo’s, thin and crisp throughout but with blown out crusts, and the toppings are certainly heavier, which some may favour, though personally I’m partial to Sodo’s ratio which is a little lighter on the stomach.
Nevertheless, these are great pizzas, a perfect casual weeknight dinner spot for the summer, and a great addition to East London. There are never enough pizza places for me anyway.
Circle Pizza Co. at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU.
I never, ever buy new clothes any more. Ever. Apart from new trainers. So when we were in Amsterdam last weekend (prettiest city ever, great shopping) I treated myself to something new. Printed summer jeans from COS, which I bought because they remind me of a colourful pair I lived in as a 4-year-old (yes, I do have a tendency to still dress like a child). They also bear resemblance to a polka-dot Something Else by Natalie Wood pair I loved so much and wore 'til they bust in Sydney. Can't wait to wear this new pair all summer long - thanks COS for creating lovely nostalgia.