Tag Archives: London

224/365 – Weekend of sightseeing

This weekend, I passed on the long distance cycling and running in favour of sightseeing. My parents were down in London and so I decided to take time off to enjoy quality time with them.

We were out for 12 hours on Saturday; soaking up the VJ day celebrations, exploring the parks of the Thames, attending a Covent Garden festival and enjoying a tipple  in the regenerated area behind King’s Cross.

Another long fun day of exploring and sampling the scones was had in Cambridge on Sunday. We visited many colleges, chilled out with Charles Darwin in his portico and took a trip on a punt with a rather grumpy ‘punter’ steering the ship. 

Alongside the tourist activities, lots of good food was eaten and there was a bit of wine enjoyed too. So when it came to getting up for work on Monday, I felt a bit sluggish after a weekend of indulgence and sleeping on a blow up bed – perhaps more so than I would have expected. Regardless, the important thing is it was lovely to have some unbroken time to enjoy with my nearest and dearest. 

 

214/365 – Bike ride in the sun

With the 60 mile cycle looming in my mind, I dragged Elaine out for our longest cycle yet yesterday – a 45 jaunt around London.

We took a scenic route through quiet City back streets, flew past an ever busy Westminster sparkling in the sun and along the speedy cycle highway to the Chelsea bridge. From there, we cut up by the statuesque buildings on Museum Road to the Royal Geographical society’s building. At the 20km point, we took a break to rest heavy legs while checking out the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition (pics below).   Stretching out in the sun like cats, the thought of doing at least another 20km was not pleasant. But remembering we hadnt even cycled a quarter of the distance we’ll be doing in five weeks time gave us a kick to keep moving. 

Coming back through Hyde Park (Elaine picture below dodging families) and Chelsea, the last downhill free fall to get to Finsbury Park was met with cheers and grins as we made it to the 28 mile mark. 

 

While it’s less than half of the distance we’re putting ourselves through in September, each new milestone makes it that bit more do-able. 

The best thing for me was that I felt really strong for it after a chilled Saturday and an early night. The steroid reduction didn’t make any difference and in all honesty I could have kept going. As my parents are down to London next weekend, we’ll probably get out for a shorter cycle to keep the strength up with a 45-60miler planned for the weekend after with one of my workmates. It’s getting exciting now. 

209/365 – Three years in London

After my Childline shift this weekend, I went for a run and inadvertently found myself on the street where my London  life began just over three years ago. London was in a state of flux then and that made it a perfect fit for me. Still grieving a year after the riots, it was preparing itself for the limelight of the Olympics but there was doubt in the air. Could all the separate Londons come together and offer pride to its residents? It was suffocatingly hot, smelly and tired, but trying hard to pull its shit together.

Stopping in my stride, I stood on the pavement opposite the office block where I had my first working day just hours after arriving in the capital. I took the photo above in the same spot I had my pic snapped for the website on my first day. Three whole years and it all came flooding back. The building held a year of memories and I could feel them all pulsing through me – clashing angrily. I could taste each cigarette smoked outside those glass doors, feel each bit of my bruised heart mending, picture the faces of my first new friends and delight in the spread of contentment as I became more and more sure that I had made the right decision to move. I fell for London’s charms in these walls and I fell for Elaine. I worked to build a new life here. It was a transition year and not least because I had my first MG symptoms in the bathroom there. Not that I knew it at the time. 

So what did my trip down memory lane mean? It reminded me of all the highs and the lows since I first walked through those doors. It reminded me how much I’ve learned in London and how far my limits have been pushed. And it reconfirmed how changeable the world is…My first office building, that held all I’ve mentioned and so much more, now appears to be a squat.  Like me, it’s undergone it’s own transformation because nothing stays the same for long.

195/365 – London picnic for families with myasthenia 

Next month, August, there’s a chance for families with someone affected by myasthenia to spend time together and make new supportive connections. Held in London’s Alexandra Park, in the north of the city, the day will offer fantastic views, hopefully sunshine and guaranteed good company (Elaine’s going). 

The idea for the picnic came about at the last Myaware Young person’s meetup group. Discussing one of the member’s family situation, the group reflected that it might be useful to bring our loved ones together at an event. Having MG can puts a lot of strain on families/partners etc and, as it’s a rare disease, without charities it’s unlikely you’ll meet someone else in the same position. This is a great opportunity to connect with other people in a similar situation and who have been through the same challenges you have faced.

The plan, at present, is to meet at on Saturday 22nd August at Alexandra Palace at 1pm cafe bar before moving onto the park for the picnic. I’ll update the blog if this changes. If you’re interested in coming along, either join the Myaware Facebook group or email  sarah.hindley@myaware.org.

153/365 – Post Camino resolutions

As I discussed on day 140, Elaine and I spent time once we arrived in Santiago de Compostella last year writing separate lists of what we wanted to do differently on our return home. I found mine just before coming away and overall it made me feel positive about the last year. This year it took a little longer to process lessons learned as we were busy in the aftermath of the walk. Yesterday, on the beach in San Sebastián, I spent time thinking about what changes I want to make following this trip. 

Alongside quitting smoking for good, the two other ones that relate to myasthenia are:

1. Find healthy ways to cope with stress 

Stress is a trigger to increasing symptoms of myasthenia, and I realised how unhealthy my methods of coping with it have been recently. I have been resorting to drinking, binge eating unhealthy foods and occasionally smoking to cope. These are all further detrimental to my health and the myasthenia. Alcohol especially prevents good quality sleep, which is especially important for someone with MG. 

If anyone has useful techniques or any websites/book you would recommend on this subject, please feel free to share. The vast amounts of information available about stress make it hard to know where to start.

2. Better diet 

As mentioned above, my diet has been affected by stress of late and I’ve been eating an unhealthy amount of sugar, processed food and gluten/dairy. I’ve also not been making time to cook foods with the nutrients I need. While I don’t think I will return to a full dairy free diet, I plan to completely eradicate gluten, cut out the majority of dairy, significantly cut down on sugar and try to eat low fat protein. 

The others, joining the Spanish club at work, beginning weekly dance classes with Elaine and getting out of London more often for walks, are less relevant. They do however focus on quality of life and will only be possible with a better work-life balance. 

106/365 –  Week day off

 Elaine and I had a mini mid week holiday yesterday for a practical reason – a medical appointment. But as the appointment wasn’t until the late afternoon, and the sun was shining, we decided to make the most of our day of leisure. 

Feeling like the luckiest people in the world on Wednesday evening, we decided to meet for a celebratory drink on the way home. However, after a long few days, I could barely keep my eyes open and struggled to make it through my beer. 

After a long sleep, I woke up feeling fresh at my normal alarm hour and smugly rolled over. Then I realised how sore my body was. With the clocking ticking down rapidly to the duathlon, I hadn’t given myself a day off training since Saturday and had clocked up 44 kms combining cycling and running in that time. I would have to reassess later whether my plan to go to hot yoga was a good idea. My symptoms were significantly reduced from the previous week but I felt I was on the edge of tipping over again if I did much more without a break.

We spent our commute looking at different options for the days after our Camino trip. By the time we reached the Emirates airline we already felt as high as kites with thoughts of holidays, adventure and the warm sun. 

The last time I was on the Emirates airline, the cloud made it difficult to see past my old stomping ground Canary Wharf. This time it felt like you could see the sun glimmering on glass and metal for miles in every direction. It seemed like a good length of time to be looking out over London and Elaine seemed happy to finally be able to tick it off her London list. 

From there we headed Mudchute city farm on the Isle of Dogs which I would thoroughly recommend. No more than a mile from Canary Wharf, the community run project has a distinctly rural feel due to it’s wild woodland setting. It comprises stables, numerous types of animals big and small (including Llamas), a lovely cafe and plenty of walking paths in the wooded areas around the main courtyard. Although you could still see the wharf in the background, psychologically you felt miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.    

      

After wandering around the farm for a while, my legs were screaming and I knew it was rest time.  After the delicious banana and peanut butter cake above, we had to head towards the hospital and ever so slowly off I went.

During the hour and 15 minutes wait at the hospital, I started to feel quite ill and realised just how wiped I was. Elaine had a flight to catch directly afterwards so I dropped her off at the train station before making the informed decision that I was no good for anything other than a film on the couch and a ready meal. 

Today my body feels better for the rest although I think another exercise-free day is in order to ensure I’m fully recovered for some longer distances this weekend. 

99/365 – London strolls

Since early last week, I’ve not been feeling strong enough for long runs or cycles. So I’ve been trying to compensate by doing extra walking. Still determined to do my 10,000 steps a day (roughly five miles) in training for the Camino – I’ve been making an extra effort to do more. 

In spite of the Saharan smog last night, I took an early evening break from work to go for a long walk before the warmth was gone from the day. I took one of my favourite routes up to the top of Alexandra Palace to gaze out over the city as the sun was setting behind me. As you can see from the picture below, the air had cleared by then and in the distance I could see across the city to my old office in Canary Wharf. With the cherry blossoms blowing their petals in my direction, it was a lovely moment I was glad I had taken for myself.  

Then today, after an early morning shift at Childline, I dragged Elaine out to explore North London. Having walking through Archway, Highgate, Hampstead Heath to Belsize Park, we took a break outside in a little sun trap cafe in Belsize Village to refuel, delicious salt beef bagel for me pictured below, before carrying on to Swiss Cottage, Kentish Town, Primrosehill and finally along the canal to Camden Town.   

 That there are five months of this weather ahead is putting a massive smile on my face today. There is no better feeling than being out in the warm spring air exploring new parts of London.

 As my body felt strong enough for the 15km distance all-in-all today, tomorrow the duathlon training continues. But this week has taught me that sometimes slowing down to walking pace has restorative powers. I can’t wait for the Camino in around six weeks’ time.