Monday, 12 August 2013

Chocolate bacon & other stories

London is turning me into a morning person. I spent a lot of time on the M25 last week (getting jealous of all the planes crawling overhead – nothing like driving past Heathrow twice a day to give you itchy feet) and that meant a lot of early mornings. My body has now taken it upon itself to wake me up at 7am, even at the weekend. I’m not sure how to feel about this, as I do love a good lie-in, but on Sunday I made the most of it and went for my run two hours earlier than planned. I went for a few runs last week and they ended up looking like this:

So it was nice to venture further afield on Sunday. I have to admit to some very geeky excitement at running in the same park as Miranda. Sunday’s run, my third of the week, was a bit of a relief, actually: after a week off running (moving house, working the weekends, etc etc) I was really shocked at how quickly you can lose fitness. Obviously it doesn’t disappear completely – but on my first run this week, I really struggled, and my normal 5-ish-k became a very red-faced 4-ish-k. My second run of the week was a little better (and on a side note, I think I have finally worked out what to eat before a morning run: a boiled egg and a banana seem to set me up much better than anything else I’ve tried) but it wasn’t until Sunday that I felt back to my normal self. I actually managed to get a 4 mile personal best, scraping in under 40 minutes thanks to a last-minute sprint that left me with a very jelly-legged cool-down walk all the way back to Acton. The early start meant I just about had enough time to make it to a Weight Watchers meeting, although I had to do my stretching in the shower (no, I wouldn’t recommend it, however good at multi-tasking you might be.) Cue lunatic driving up the North Circular and a tour of the church halls and community centres of Cricklewood (I need to find a meeting a little closer to home, I think!) Weigh-in done and dusted for the week, my friend Ashleigh arrived and we embarked on a two-day mini gastronomic tour of London. I’m supposedly the local now but she is an excellent tour guide and opened my eyes to the delights of Fortnum & Mason, Camden Market, and Whole Foods. I did manage to pitch in with one recommendation, stolen from the lovely Ellie who I first met in Paris (she just moved back there – cue horrible jealousy) and who blogs at Eat, Play, Live. In one of her recent posts she reviewed Flat Iron in Soho, far more eloquently than I could (so you should all go and read her post.) My own two-pence worth: eating green salad with a miniature meat-cleaver is not the easiest of tasks, but now I have tasted chips fried in beef dripping, there’s no going back. If you come and visit me, I warn you, I may drag you here. 

Other things I loved this weekend:

In case you didn’t get it from my mustard chicken post, I am a big fan of mustard. I have been known to eat it out of the jar. Not this jar, sadly.

Very classy deck chairs in Green Park.

The Overground: air conditioning, so quiet, £1.50 to get to Camden Road. Yes please.

I can’t quite believe I have never been to Camden Market before. My one and only experience of Camden was on a night out back in January – I have to say, things look a lot more hospitable when you’re not trying to find a taxi to take seven people from Chalk Farm to Chiswick at 3am. Ashleigh and I scoured the food market for the healthiest option: Sonita’s Kitchen absolutely came up trumps. Some places do it better than others, but all too often, I find that the “healthy option” either a) tastes of pretty much nothing, b) is actually not that healthy after all, or c) is both of the above. The curry we had for lunch tasted incredible, and looking at the ingredients, not even my sceptical eye could find anything that would make it that unhealthy. The curry (there was a choice of three vegetarian curries, as well as king prawn, lamb and chicken options) is cooked in a small amount of olive oil, and the acid test for me was that you could actually taste the freshness of the ingredients. It tasted like something I would make at home (except a lot better, obviously!) Meet my new best friend:

I couldn’t decide which two of the three veggie options to pick, so he hid the dahl underneath the chickpea curry and voilĂ , four different curries in one box and he under-charged us. Hero.

A food find like that can really make my day. Fuel for some more browsing (and our little pilgrimage to the Whole Foods in Piccadilly Circus.)

I went for a quick run round Acton Park this evening. I was pleasantly surprised that it’s open until 9pm over the summer. I keep being surprised by things like that, after a year of living in the suburbs. I have a bit of a “not-in-Kansas-anymore” feeling, things lighting up in unexpected technicolour. The park gives off the scent of summer – dry grass crushed under canvas. Close your eyes and you could be anywhere. Open them and the birds rush suddenly like grains of salt flung for luck, to catch the light on the underside of each wing. 

P.S. As for the chocolate bacon, this somewhat improbable claim was written up on a chalkboard outside a shop in Camden Lock. Ashleigh and I headed in to investigate, to be told they had sold out ... So we remain intrigued. I’ll keep you posted! 

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